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Remote work: Aussies starting new jobs without meeting their colleagues

Starting a new job can be overwhelming at the best of times, never mind trying to do so when working remotely and having never seen co-workers or systems in action.

With many companies making the temporary switch to working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, many employees are being interviewed, onboarded and starting work without meeting one colleague face-to-face.

Recruitment guru and Shark Tank shark Andrew Banks says the move toward virtual interviews has had a positive effect on hiring processes, as employers have been able to conduct more interviews than time previously allowed.

“Employers are not making appointments and having to spend an hour with (each jobseeker) because they have driven all that way,” he says.

“More employers are going online and doing 20-minute screening conversations early in the process.”

media_cameraEmployers are taking advantage of virtual job interviews to meet more candidates. Picture: iStock.

He says the screening conversations allow employers to delve into a jobseeker’s motivations, values and other personal attributes, not just the skills and knowledge outlined in their resume.

“It is more efficient remotely so in this post-COVID world I see the opportunity to make better hiring decisions because they are hiring the whole person,” he says.

Employment Hero chief people officer Alex Hattingh says the people management platform has remotely hired and onboarded new staff since the pandemic as well as helped other companies do the same.

CAREERS: Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer of people-management platform, Employment Hero. Picture: Supplied
media_cameraCAREERS: Alex Hattingh, Chief People Officer of people-management platform, Employment Hero. Picture: Supplied

She says it is important new employees do not miss out on the excitement of the first week and first month.

As part of that, each person hired at Employment Hero is now given a welcome package with their laptop and all required technology as well as a handwritten card from their manager and some fun additions including snacks, hand sanitiser, a roll of toilet paper and can of corona or another drink of their choice.

They also receive a stipend so they can purchase a comfortable office chair to use at home at the company’s expense.

“We introduced a 5pm virtual chit chat on Zoom – sometimes you get five people, sometimes 25 people,” Hattingh says.

“(New employees) call in to get to know people.”

Hattingh’s tips for people starting a new job while working from home include:


“If they haven’t had the fortune of joining a company with a robust onboarding plan in place, they may need to take it upon themselves to look at an (organisational) chart and book one-on-ones with (managers),” she says.

“For introverts, just do it, rip the bandaid off and set up Zooms or Google Meets.”


“In your first few weeks, you have the most permission you will ever have to ask anything you want so just keep asking and try to be a sponge,” she says.


“It’s uncomfortable to start a new job,” she says.

“It’s OK to say to a manager, as a new person, ‘I feel completely lost, can we please put a weekly (catch up) in the calendar?’.”


“LinkedIn Learning have some great free resources at the moment on remote work,” she says.

Salesforce’s Cat Prestipino had barely started her new job when everyone was asked to work from home. Picture: Supplied
media_cameraSalesforce’s Cat Prestipino had barely started her new job when everyone was asked to work from home. Picture: Supplied


Salesforce senior marketing manager for emerging small and medium businesses Cat Prestipino started her role on March 9 and by March 17 everyone had been instructed to work from home.

“The biggest challenge was I didn’t really have a ramp-on period,” she says.

“Normally, as a new person, you expect a couple of months when you can listen and learn, and the marketing plan is already in place and there is breathing space before you jump in.

“All the events we had planned for the next three months were cancelled and we changed all our messaging to the market.”

Prestipino says it was also difficult not being able to freely walk up to whoever she needed to speak to.

“Working from home, you have to deliberately reach out, and when I had questions, I had to know who was the right person to ask,” she says.

“But Salesforce has been super supportive.

“My manager has been really helpful in checking in with me to make sure I am OK.

“I felt I could ask questions of anyone and we use our own products so we already had that environment of working flexibly and remotely.”


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Her best tip for other people who find themselves in a similar situation is to set up virtual coffee meetings with people in the organisation to help establish networks.

“I would email people, put time in their calendar, and say ‘this has no agenda other than getting to know you’,” she says.

“People were really receptive and when I started doing that, people started putting time in my calendar as well.”

News Corp , in partnership with recruitment technology provider Shortlyster, has launched the Australian National Talent Registry to connect jobseekers with employers based on skills, experience and culture fit.


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