Mass layoffs and bleak forecasts may be the order of the day for many companies in response to the uncertainties presented by the Covid-19 pandemic, but the data science job market has not screeched to a complete halt. Some companies are still hiring data scientists in India, or have honoured job offers that were made before the lockdown measures came into effect.
Although virtual onboarding might be a regular fixture at companies that already have a lot of remote employees, this arrangement may not align with how you intended to handle your notice period and start your new job.
Transitioning into new roles is difficult enough, and the current situation makes it even more challenging, not just for you, but for your employer as well. This is because the traditional onboarding process they follow may not have been designed to factor in this situation.
However, as companies go back to the drawing board to weather the Covid-19 crisis, adapting to this new situation is unlikely to be their top priority. Thus, the onus will mostly fall on you to be proactive in getting acclimated to the new role and situation. Moreover, with uncertainty still looming large on how work can resume as usual post lockdown, you may want to take an active approach to draw a plan around how you can work collaboratively with your colleagues, effectively coordinate with your manager, and get up to speed on how to get your job done efficiently.
So if you are lucky enough to be starting a new job and are experiencing first-day jitters, we have you covered. To help you navigate this process and seamlessly settle into a new remote team, we share a few useful tips:
Weigh Your Reasons For The Job Switch
Data science is a vast and dynamic field that offers a lot of opportunities to experiment and learn. This means that transitioning from one role to another between various companies is quite commonplace.
Before you even accept the job offer, be sure to weigh your reasons for the move – is this the best option for your career? With the uncertainty that is bound to last a few more quarters at least, do you know enough about the company and the sector it operates in to dive into it?
Although many organisations have robust business continuity plans in place to ensure a smooth transition to remote working, it is good to err on the side of caution amid a crisis like this. Moreover, with many companies increasingly experimenting with remote work, this may be a good time for you to get comfortable with this format, and may even help you expand your capacity.
Be An Active Participant In The Onboarding Process
Depending on the specific job you are handling or the company you are joining, your onboarding experience is bound to be unique. Some might involve long and elaborate Zoom sessions to explain the intricacies of the job role, while others may have a more abridged experience over a call.
This is where you need to step up. Even before your formal onboarding commences, make an effort to understand in advance what the process will look like, so you are prepared in advance. Also, once the process is over, without waiting for a prompt from your manager or HR, reach out with a quick note for details whenever necessary.
Your notice period may be a good time for you to connect with your new employer and prepare your remote working arrangement for the new job so you can hit the ground running.
Connect With Colleagues Periodically
As with any new job, you will be inclined to know about your colleagues from day one. In a conventional setting, this would naturally flow into the events on your first day, but with remote working, you will have to manufacture them.
First step would be to find out what communication tool is preferred for what conversations. Does the team rely on Slack for work only? Which channel do colleagues typically use to indulge in informal communication? Having an idea of their communication preferences will help you foster better interactions. Additionally, you should also connect with them on LinkedIn.
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Use these communication tools to keep in touch with your new team members. Engage in frequent – but brief – one-on-one discussions to ask questions and know more about them and the projects they are working on. Once the lockdown ends and you begin to go to the office, you can handle the situation more confidently.
Take Initiative To Ask For More Information
A big disadvantage of remote working is that colleagues cannot read your facial cues or body language to gauge that you may need help. Thus, without you explicitly stating it, help will not come to you.
As a newcomer, you may be hesitant to seek help for fear of being perceived as incompetent, but learn to take it in your stride and treat it as a learning curve. From banal administrative questions to more complex topics related to your project, identify people in your company who can provide you with the right answers and get them resolved as soon as possible.
Conversely, if a colleague wants to reach out to you with a task, ask them plenty of questions to better understand the demands of the project and get it done. Participating in various projects will also help you get a broader picture of the company goals, making it easier for you to acclimate with the job. Additionally, it may be a good idea to ask your manager what they are expecting of you and create a process for timely updates.
Starting your job remotely during uncertain times can be stressful and can make the process more difficult than it actually needs to be. However, being proactive and taking the necessary steps mentioned above can help make the transition easier.
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Anu is a writer who stews in existential angst and actively seeks what’s broken. Lover of avant-garde films and BoJack Horseman fan theories, she has previously worked for Economic Times. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org