Starting a new job is always a little awkward until you get used to the routine and start building relationships with co-workers. On your first day, don't hesitate to ask colleagues about new company policies, workload demands and office protocol to help you adjust to the new workplace. To avoid being labeled a gossip, ask questions that directly relate to the job, and steer clear of questions about other co-workers or your boss. An enthusiastic and cheerful attitude can help your first day feel comfortable and relaxed, allowing others to view you as a friendly and approachable employee.
On your first day, ask co-workers questions about new or revised company policies. Even though these topics are often discussed during the job interview or detailed in an employee handbook, it never hurts to make sure you understand new procedures. Some companies revise their policies to accommodate unforeseen circumstances or meet client expectations. For example, during the busy season at a retail store, your employer might want more customer service agents on the floor helping customers with merchandise. Or a busy dental office might want patients to wait in a designated waiting room, rather than the dentist's office. Co-workers are usually a reliable resource for answering questions about new or revised guidelines.
Inquiring about office protocol helps you understand expectations related to the daily routine. Ask a co-worker about specific activities, such as break time, parking permits, clocking in or out, lunchtime, personal phone calls, office entrances and exit doors, smoking restrictions and reporting to supervisors. Since it's your first day, you definitely don't want to take too long a lunch break or call your spouse to discuss weekend plans if it's not allowed. Some companies have specific rules about office protocol, while others are more flexible. A colleague can advise you what's acceptable and the norm for the office, and help you understand company culture.
There's no way to learn everything on your first day, but a co-worker can help you get a grasp of general work demands. Ask questions about job-relevant topics, such as deadlines, quotas, client expectations, current needs, products, daily work responsibilities, and methods of communication with co-workers and clients. You might feel like you're bombarding others with questions, but you don't want to risk falling behind on your first day. You should also ask about meetings you're expected to attend, training requirements and weekly activities. Avoid questions about salary, commission, benefits or other monetary rewards, unless the question is general knowledge such as when you get paid. If you have questions about compensation, it's best to address those with your boss or human resource administrator. More than likely, your co-workers don't all receive the same pay, so it could be a touchy topic.
At a large company, business or factory, you might need to ask questions about the facilities. You're not expected to know where everything is located, so you might need help locating the restrooms, break room, computer room, storage area, stock room, copy machine or specific offices. It's better to ask a co-worker for directions than to wander around aimlessly, hoping to find the right place. Everyone else had to get through their first days on the job, so most won't mind offering tips to help you adjust to the new work environment.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.