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3 ideas for navigating a new job in a virtual world

Given today's rapidly evolving situation, how should talent approach this newly virtual normal?
By: | May 11, 2020 • 3 min read
(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

With so much uncertainty surrounding the current state of business, it’s no surprise that companies are scrambling to figure out new ways to conduct traditionally tried-and-true tasks. The graduating class of 2020 and droves of interns may likely find themselves in a truly unique position: entering the workforce in a virtual capacity.

This is particularly interesting when you consider that strategies and plans for internships and onboarding sessions set months ago now have to adjust to a sudden change. Due to COVID-19, we are pivoting quickly and adjusting to this striking “new normal.” PwC, for example, is making the internship experience completely virtual for the first time ever. About 3,500 summer interns will be getting their first taste of the corporate world from the comfort of their own homes.

Related: Strategies to manage coronavirus in the workplace

Rod Adams, talent acquisition leader for PwC U.S. and Mexico

Even for full-time jobs, there is a transformed “onboarding” process in the short-term, where new joiners will be learning the ropes of their new position without in-person guidance or mentorship. Given today’s rapidly evolving situation, how should talent approach this newly virtual normal? Here are three things that HR recruitment/talent executives should recommend to their 2020 new hires and summer interns that will help make or break  their virtual experience:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Even though you’re working virtually, take the initiative to quickly get a sense of the company culture. You won’t have a manager to observe, predict challenges you are facing and provide in-person coaching, so you should be extra diligent about sharing your questions, concerns, ideas, tasks and accomplishments.

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Show your new coworkers that you’re self-motivated and independent. As soon as you begin, find out how your team members like to communicate—different people have different communication styles, and when working remotely, it’s important to err on the side of over-communication as you get up to speed. Set up regular check-ins by phone or video, and come prepared with project updates, roadblocks and expected timing on deliverables. With this in mind, remember that it’s good to have questions. No one expects you to join a new company knowing everything about it.

2. Go all-in on digital

Working remotely can present its own unique challenges, but don’t lose sight of the fact that your priorities in your new role are the same—regardless of whether you are virtual or in-person. This is your chance to learn new digital skills that could help “future-proof” your career by enhancing your technical knowledge and capabilities.

If your company offers digital upskilling opportunities, be proactive, be interested and take advantage. Leaders are looking at new digital tools and skills as helping to change the way we work by simplifying and freeing up employees to further enhance quality and value. Learning these tools through virtual courses, apps or other mediums can be a launchpad to transform your career and help you work more effectively in a virtual environment, while also showcasing desire to learn and grow.

3. Be human first

Kids are loud and dogs bark, having these things in the background are all parts of working from home and even more so today. Embrace what working remotely entails. Be open and honest with your teammates about your situation. For many, this may be a new experience, don’t let technology stifle your authenticity and personality.

Remember, too, that building human-to-human relationships is more important than ever when working virtually. Taking time to check-in on one another is critically important. Schedule virtual coffee meetings and talk about anything but work. Find new and exciting ways to connect as human beings and simply create space with one another. This is good for you and everyone will be better off for it—both personally and professionally.

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Working virtually when you are new to an organization can be daunting and potentially bring feelings of uncertainty, but remember that we are in this together. This situation may present some difficulties, but if we are open to communicating in new ways, go all-in on digital and are human first, beginning to excel in your role while building meaningful professional relationships will lay the foundation for a valuable experience.

Rod Adams is the PwC U.S. and Mexico talent acquisition leader. He has 25 years of professional experience beginning his career in client service before transitioning to human capital. Send questions or comments about this story to hreletters@lrp.com.

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