Current limitations created by the Coronavirus pandemic are reorienting how people do their work worldwide. For many of us, that means working remotely and trying our best to maintain productivity and efficient collaboration across projects while teleworking. Remote work can be especially daunting if you are joining a new project team. It is a major challenge getting to know the needs and expectations of your team without the help of face-to-face meetings. Though onboarding remotely for a project presents unique challenges, you can still effectively integrate and provide value to your new team. Here are five tips to help you successfully join a new project while working remotely: 

1. Introduce yourself. First impressions matter! 

It can be awkward to introduce yourself over a call or virtual meeting, but introductions are a great opportunity to make a strong impression. When you see new names or faces in a call, be sure to take a moment to say who you are, what your role is, and what you hope to contribute to the project. Nailing a first impression can go a long way in developing trust and demonstrating the enthusiasm and expertise you will bring to a project. And don’t forget, an email introduction (or message over a collaboration tool like Microsoft Teams or Slack) is better than no introduction at all! 

2. Research your project. 

You might find yourself working on a project with a long, complicated history or lots of moving parts. Under normal circumstances, it is easy to have conversations with colleagues, to ask questions and fill in the gaps in your understanding of the project. In a remote setting, this might look a little different. While conversations are still critical, you should also ask if there are other resources that could help you develop your knowledge of a project. Shared documents like project plans, communications, or activity trackers can be incredibly useful in painting a fuller picture of the project. With a strong background and awareness of the project’s history and prior challenges, you can have confidence in your recommendations, and you will be even more useful to your team.

3. Build new relationships. 

Getting to know new people in a virtual work environment is challenging for a variety of reasons. Emails and conference calls leave little room for personality, and it can be hard to forge connections without the help of face-to-face interaction. Developing strong working relationships takes time, and when working remotely, you may need to go out of your way to be sure you are connecting and communicating effectively across the digital divide. Think about the relationships that are critical to your work—people you’ll be collaborating closely with, your Project Manager, or other key stakeholders. Meeting one-on-one with these individuals and learning how to best communicate and collaborate remotely can provide a huge advantage. Taking time to get to know your colleagues will help you get involved and up-to-speed more efficiently. 

4. Identify and adapt to your team’s work culture. 

Not every team works the same, and with the limitless tools and options for collaboration online, it is important to develop an understanding of how your team works most effectively. Pay attention to what works and what doesn’t for your team’s remote collaboration. If there are any issues your team is experiencing while working remotely, take note and consider how you can be part of the solution! 

5. Make your voice heard! 

Working remotely, you may not know when it is the right time to step off the sidelines and take the lead on a task. Remote work sometimes offers an increased level of independence that you might not be used to when you are getting started on a project. The good news is that this is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your capabilities, and to step up for your team in a time of need. Taking that first jump into a task can be daunting, but sometimes learning by doing is the best way to get acclimated and grow your confidence. 

Next steps 

So, you are a team member. Now what? This is your chance to make your mark. You have established the knowledge, the relationships, and the confidence to make great things happen. Run with that early success and know that you are on track to go above and beyond for your team!