By DeVry University
After graduating from DeVry University, alum Marco Ruiz received an exciting career opportunity. A Fortune 50 company offered him a position that fit his education and work experience perfectly. His only challenge: he would have to move across the country and start the job during a global pandemic.
How did Ruiz make it happen? Explore his tips for working from home and successfully starting a new job – no matter the circumstances.
A Surprising Start
On March 4, 2020, as Covid-19 tossed the world into uncertainty, Ruiz walked through the doors of his new office at Lowe’s Companies, Inc. headquarters in Mooresville, North Carolina, ready to begin his job as a workforce management consultant. The role, which focuses on a mixture of change management, human resources and IT, marked an exciting next chapter for Ruiz who graduated from DeVry in November 2019 with a bachelor's degree in Business Administration specializing in Human Resources.
He started the job and began adjusting to work for two weeks before everything changed. “We had some meetings, I went into the office for a bit and then bam—Covid-19,” Ruiz says. “I started with Lowe’s right at the peak of the pandemic hitting the U.S., just as schools were closing and companies began telling everyone to work remotely.”
Despite the unexpected, Ruiz eventually adjusted to remote work, but had to take critical steps to succeed as a new employee. Here are seven tips for working from home that have helped Ruiz thrive in his new role, remain positive and continue to pursue his dreams:
1. Embrace Uncertainty
To succeed at a new company, particularly during a stressful pandemic, it can help to maintain a growth mindset, but that may feel challenging if you’re constantly fighting anxiety or fear of the unknown.
Instead of occupying precious time with unsolvable worries, Ruiz suggests a small yet crucial mental shift: “Embrace uncertainty. Uncertainty is perpetual,” he says. “Even the things we feel are certain can change, so the moment you realize that no matter how much you plan, life will always be uncertain, taking a risk won’t feel so outlandish.”
This is the mindset Ruiz adapted to take a leap on the Lowe’s opportunity and quickly sell his house, buy a new home and relocate from Texas to North Carolina with his wife and four children ages 6, 13, 14 and 17. Accepting uncertainty has helped him stay productive and focus on work-from-home strategies instead of being distracted by factors beyond his control. Consider a similar approach if you’re starting a new job or opportunity.
2. Ask for Help
Although making a good first impression may be a common goal for new employees, don’t be afraid to ask questions as you orient yourself, Ruiz says. In his early days of working from home, he contacted his manager and colleagues whenever he needed to clarify project details.
Avoid the temptation to not ask for the information or help you need, he cautions: “Asking for help will propel you further into success than simply sucking it up, doing what you can and hoping you can produce work without making a mistake,” Ruiz says. “When I tell my boss that I don’t understand something, he actually appreciates that I’m transparent. Reaching out for help will show that you have a higher emotional intelligence than just trying to wing it.”
3. Build a New Network
Even in a time of social distancing, Ruiz still nurtures connections at his company. Whether you’re a recent graduate starting a new job or a student on the brink of your first internship, finding the right support to reach your goals can start with building a professional network.
“No matter how hard you work, hard work may not always be the thing that elevates you. It’s all about building your network,” Ruiz says.
If you’re starting a new job remotely, consider one of his tips for working from home: “Because a lot of work is remote, I try to capitalize on moments where I can reach out to people and have additional conversations,” Ruiz says. “Not many people know who I am yet, so I make an effort to introduce myself.”
Hop on Microsoft Teams or Zoom to chat with colleagues and even co-workers outside your department, Ruiz recommends because “there’s nothing wrong with building a network that is aware of your results and the kind of success that you can bring a team or organization.”
4. Create Consistent Outcomes
Once you’ve chatted with teammates and laid the foundation for a solid professional network, “start creating consistent outcomes” by completing high-quality work to share with your newfound colleagues, Ruiz advises.
To accomplish this, he maintains a regimented schedule and has been known to start his workday early—a practice he honed and developed while studying at DeVry.
“I’ve had to be extra disciplined, complete my work, stay consistent and generate good outcomes—especially while adjusting to a new company during the pandemic,” Ruiz says.
Set realistic expectations and deadlines, explore professional tools for success and “do your best to excel in projects that speak for you,” he adds. This can help new employees create a solid reputation as they transition to starting a new job with remote work and teambuilding.
5. Eat Lunch or a Snack—No Matter Your Schedule
“This one sounds so simple yet it’s easy to overlook,” Ruiz says. “I always take my lunch, even if I only have 15 or 20 minutes.” Block off time in your schedule and prep meals for the day in advance. He also recommends keeping healthy snacks on hand. One of Ruiz’s favorites quick bites: an avocado, pinch of salt and garlic.
6. Set a Time to Log Off and Stick to It
Similar to practicing proper nutrition, Ruiz understands the importance of creating practical boundaries while jumpstarting opportunities. This can be particularly helpful for anyone who has to balance competing priorities such as work, school and family. To set firm boundaries, Ruiz uses dinner as his hard cut-off time. That means the computer shuts down or hums to sleep mode by the end of an 8-hour workday.
“At home, it’s so easy to just keep sitting on the computer all day. But you have to walk away,” says Ruiz, who stops working by 6 p.m. so he can enjoy dinner and evening walks with his wife and children. “Set a schedule, create a plan and stick to it.”
7. Organize and Personalize Your Workspace
Having the freedom to design a workspace that fits your personality can be one of the unexpected benefits of working from home during a pandemic. When Ruiz moved into his new home in North Carolina, he was thrilled to have enough space for a full office, which he decorated with his favorite comic book memorabilia. “I recently designed my home office with all of my action figures and that really made me happy,” Ruiz says.
Starting a new job can be a great reason to personalize your home workspace. Even if you don’t have the square footage for an office, try out some creative ideas such as work nooks or space-saving desks. You just might be surprised at how much of an impact even the smallest changes can make.