Recent college graduates, like many others, have struggled with the new norm of WFH (working from home). While the onset of the pandemic brought about this drastic change in how we work, many workplace experts agree that WHF is here to stay, whether fully remote or hybrid. With all the adjustments that new graduates have to make, navigating from college to work, this is just another challenge that young professionals need to understand and embrace.
Here are 3 ways in which WFH is disrupting the workplace, and strategies for new workers to identify and cope with these challenges.
One of the great challenges of WFH, especially in your first job, is setting and committing to a daily schedule. Not only does this require discipline, organization, and time-management skills, but your team members may have a different schedule they are following. This makes timely communication less predictable. Try to understand the expectations of others up front, including when responses to emails or other communications you receive are expected. While it may be more convenient for you to accomplish certain personal errands during business hours, a better idea would be to remain accessible and available, leaving personal needs for non-business hours. If other team members have a less conventional schedule, you should, and must, check your emails and Slack regularly throughout the evening hours.
Communicating electronically can be difficult and often messaging can be misunderstood, confusing, or lack clarity. Many recent graduates have grown used to the convenience of texting, which is far more informal and less professional than using email or Slack. It can be challenging to strike the right tone. What sounds good to the person crafting the message may sound abrupt or dismissive to the person(s) receiving it. Do you want to be concise and direct or take the time to give more context and depth? Maybe you need to think more before firing off a quick response or ask someone else to read it for tone. Are you sounding negative or unhelpful? Try to establish with your team some guidelines for the best way to communicate digitally so that you can provide timely and helpful responses.
When working from an office, there is a clearer understanding of the start and end of the workday. This predictability is lacking when many people are working remotely, and they are not necessarily in the office on the same days. While you may think that you work better in the late night hours, it can be off putting to others to receive emails time stamped at 3am. This clearly signals that your hours are not aligned with the typical workday, and may disrupt the schedules of others on your team.
In addition, younger employees tend to feel more hesitant to participate in larger zoom-like forums and comfortably share their ideas. Thus, they tend to feel unrecognized and underutilized. Perhaps it would raise awareness to find a way, through Slack or email, to initiate a friendly conversation with others, or share articles, posts or other relevant information that might be of interest. While this may not be as natural as walking over to someone’s workspace in an office, it should help you to forge deeper relationships with other team members.
While WFH does create definite challenges, especially for those new to the workforce, at Priority Candidates we encourage our clients to spend as much time in the office as possible and not adhere to the number of days they are REQUIRED to be in the office. This demonstrates commitment and enables you to build relationships more organically. And as a practical matter, offices generally provide a more appealing and conducive environment that encourages productivity and focus.