In this article, leading specialist job board TotallyLegal offers 10 top tips for Institute of Paralegals members who are getting ready to start a new job remotely.
With new duties, new colleagues and new expectations, it’s no wonder that starting a new job is widely considered to be one of the most stressful life events. Even for highly experienced and professionally recognised Paralegals the first weeks of a new role can be a nerve-wracking time, and this is just as true when it comes to starting a new job remotely.
Now that England has entered its second national lockdown and remote working is being embraced by most legal professionals, many employers are making use of virtual interview and onboarding processes. If you’re starting a new Paralegal job in the next few weeks or months, chances are that you will be doing so from home.
In order to help Paralegals to tackle the unique challenges of starting a new job remotely, we put together this selection of top tips and handy hints.
Find out about your new employer’s onboarding process
The first thing to do is get in touch with your new boss or a contact in HR and ask for the details of your upcoming onboarding. At this point, your new employer may be up to speed with welcoming new starters remotely, but you might find that they are still perfecting the process. Either way, you will feel more confident about commencing your new Paralegal role from home once you have an idea of what to expect.
Make your workspace work for you
In order to perform your best, you need a workspace that works for you. This is even more important if you’re likely to be working from home permanently or for an extended period. Ensure you have all the technology, equipment and furniture required to work comfortably and efficiently. Your new employer might provide you with a laptop, desk, chair and anything else you need, so check with them before spending your own money.
Introduce and reintroduce yourself
The first few days and weeks of a new job are filled with introductions, and when you’re starting remotely it may take even longer for people to get to know you. Your manager might send around an email introducing you on your first day, but if not then it’s a wise idea to send one yourself.
Don’t overthink it. Something like “Hi, I’m Emily - the new Paralegal for the commercial property team. I’m looking forward to working with you all!” will do the job.
Remember, it may be necessary to reintroduce yourself when contacting colleagues via email or speaking on a video call in the first few weeks of your new job.
Find out about your team
In your first few days it’s essential to find out who does what job in your team, so you know who to turn to for help when the need arises. We also recommend finding out about contacts in IT support, HR or any other department who you may need to speak to or work with.
Understand what’s expected of you...
In the office environment you would have your manager around to nudge you in the right direction and colleagues to ask for help. Unfortunately, working from home reduces these opportunities for on the fly training and guidance.
So, when starting a new job remotely, it’s vital to know everything you can about your duties, goals and the metrics your performance will be recorded against. If anything about your role is unclear, make sure to ask.
...but be flexible if your responsibilities change
Although it’s imperative to understand your new role, it’s also important to be flexible and open to the fact that some of your usual responsibilities may temporarily change while your new colleagues continue to get used to remote operations.
Adapt to your team’s communication style
On the first day of your new job, you should ask about the communication methods used by your new team to make sure you don’t miss out on any important information. Note which communication apps and tools are preferred by your colleagues. For example, some people prefer an instant message over a phone call if a quick query needs resolving.
Working from home, especially in a new role, can lead to briefs being interpreted incorrectly. To make sure you deliver great work to deadline, you should ask about anything that you don’t understand. If it helps, arrange a call to find out more about your role in a new task, what the priorities are and what you are expected to achieve.
Start to build relationships
In order to have an enjoyable and smooth transition into your new Paralegal role, it’s a good idea to start getting to know your new colleagues as soon as possible. Why not take the initiative? Reach out to the people you will be working closely with and invite them for a 1-to-1 or team video chat to get to know each other. Find out about their role in the department and the projects they’re working on, but also ask about their hobbies and interests or their plans for the weekend.
Remember to switch off
We get it: you want to impress your new boss and colleagues by delivering amazing work in your first few weeks. However, you will only be able to perform your best when maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Paralegals are no strangers to working overtime, but make sure to take regular breaks throughout the day, start and finish work on time when you can and turn your email notifications off over the weekend. If you’re struggling to switch off while working from home, check out our helpful guide.
Good luck to all Paralegals starting a new job remotely in the coming weeks and months!
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