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365 days later: Lessons learned as a newly graduated digital nomad

Hotwire Global

Starting a new job is never easy, let alone in the midst of a global pandemic!

Since joining Hotwire a year ago, I have only ever known remote working. In fact, having graduated from university just months prior to the Covid-19 outbreak, my living room in different countries has been the only ‘office’ I have ever worked from.

Under the current circumstances, getting to know the organisation, colleagues, role and even the company culture are bound to be more challenging without the ability to connect with others in person. To help address this, Hotwire developed and introduced extensive onboarding sessions and in-depth training which provided us – remote new joiners – with the knowledge and tools required to kick-off our new role. That said, the possibility of bumping into colleagues in the office kitchen, going out for Friday drinks, or discovering how tall everyone really is, has been kept in abeyance.

The last twelve months have consisted of countless Zoom meetings, Slack messages, virtual pub quizzes and, more importantly, continuous trial and error. In light of this, here are four lessons I’ve learned during my virtual journey with Hotwire so far.


Communication is key

This was one of the first pieces of advice I was given when being onboarded. Back then, I underestimated the value of communication. Today, I couldn’t agree more.

Remote work is a constant effort to be visible. Given you’re not a couple of desks away from your colleagues, keeping your teams posted about what you are – or perhaps more importantly aren’t – working on, what your day, week and month looks like and anything in between, doesn’t go amiss. In fact, policies such as Hotwire’s ‘thoughtful working’– encouraging us to work whenever and wherever we’re most productive – is another reason as to why keeping your teams notified is of utmost importance.

If you feel like you’re overcommunicating, you’re probably communicating just enough.

How you communicate is just as important as what you communicate. Interactions over email and messaging platforms can sometimes seem cold and impersonal, therefore, inserting an emoji or a genuine, appreciative remark every now and then helps add warmth to the messages – like a smile or a joke would in the physical office.


It’s not as hard as it seems

Starting my first job post-graduation felt like my big leap into the real world, accompanied by a fair share of self-doubt, anxiety and the need to prove myself. I realised those feelings especially came to life when undertaking new challenges. This is because we often underestimate our ability to succeed at tasks we’ve never done before.

We sometimes create a false narrative around the size and importance of the task, the impact of our contribution and most importantly, the consequences associated with underperforming, if not failing. Yet, time and time again, we come to the realisation that we were way off the mark. The task, in most cases, turns out to be a lot easier than expected – you just have to take that first step!


You won’t know until you ask

In the case that you do find yourself in doubt, there’s no harm in asking questions – this should come naturally when starting a new role. In fact, one of the perks of being a new joiner involves the ‘grace period’ – the initial phase in which you’re unofficially granted permission to ask unlimited questions. That said, as an over-thinker, often my inner narrative holds me back from doing so for a variety of reasons – am I expected to know this already? Am I taking up too much of their time? Am I asking too many questions?

Eventually, not only am I left with less time to get the task done, I am still faced with the same unsolved questions! So, take it from me – just ask the question, straight up.


Patience is a virtue

Rome wasn’t built in a day. One year on, I still feel like a new joiner, asking questions, making mistakes, seeking help… and that’s okay. Be patient with yourself, your colleagues, your manager and even your clients – we are all learning how to do our best in a virtual environment. Remember that there’s always room for improvement, potential to learn and ultimately, to grow.

One year since embarking on my new career at Hotwire, in the midst of a global pandemic – turning my living room into my office and only meeting my colleagues and their pets via Zoom – I can confirm that it has been a truly challenging yet rewarding experience. Many a lesson has been learned with humility and honesty – not just for me, but also my teams as we learned about remote onboarding together – and I’ve come away with more confidence in my abilities. Ultimately, these ingredients, in combination, are key to success.

I hope these tips may help you, either as you look to start your first remote role, validate the experiences of other remote joiners, or give you some insight as a manager arranging remote onboarding!

I’d love to hear your thoughts or if you have any other tips too –