Arriving in a new workplace is a bit like joining a new family. Both have their traditions, habits, and unique ways of getting along and getting things done.
Freelancers in health and social care or in hospitality generally work multiple diverse and varied missions in any given month, changing workplaces a number of times along the way. Understanding and adapting to how things work in each new environment can be a real challenge. It demands significant amounts of time and energy – things that are usually in short supply for freelancers. However, investing your personal resources into adapting to a new organisation can prove beneficial in more ways than one.
Let Brigad share with you some tips and tricks that will help you adapt to a new environment as painlessly as possible, and of course some faux pas not to commit! Read on to find out how to get the most out of your next mission and make it more enjoyable. You never know, some of these tips and tricks could just boost your chances of being called back for a future mission!
Starting a new mission is always intimidating, and as the newbie of the team, you are naturally concentrating on making a good first impression and working out who is who and who does what. This is especially true for freelance workers in hospitality and healthcare – naturally stressful industries – as they are under pressure to show what they are made of while enjoying precious little time to get to grips with their new organisation.
The fear of not being up to the job and making a mistake only exacerbates stress levels. Indeed, imposter syndrome is a real challenge facing workers and freelancers in all industries (nearly 85% of entrepreneurs report experiencing the phenomenon to some degree).
While the fundamentals of a job remain the same across the sector, workers in different workplaces may use different terminology, jargon, and acronyms than the ones you are comfortable using. At the beginning of a mission, you are also probably trying to strike that mythical balance of being as useful as possible, as quickly as possible, without asking too many silly questions. And who can you ask if you are struggling with something? You wouldn’t want to ask the wrong person the wrong question.
It is natural for anyone to feel like a fish out of water in the first days of a new job, but as industry experts called in for backup, freelancers are afforded less time to decode how their new organisation works. There is only so much time for last minute training on the company’s values and processes, so freelancers instead rely heavily on their own experiences to take initiatives.
If you have been called in as temporary backup, and you know you are unlikely to become a regular fixture in the team, you may wonder what the point of investing your energy into a new organisation might be. Maybe you are only planning to do the strict minimum to get the job done. Well, you may be surprised at how taking the time to fully understand how things work in this new environment can have a real impact on your career – even in the long term.
Striving to adapt to a new organisation demonstrates your professional work ethic and desire to succeed. Procedures in place in a given workplace have allowed permanent teams to work in perfect harmony for a long time before you arrived, so try to work at the same pace and follow the same systems as your peers. Your co-workers will recognise the efforts you are making and realise just how much support you can lend them. It is the best way to garner respect from your peers and be able to rely on them for help when you need it.
Every mission you carry out is an opportunity to learn something new or perfect your skills in a particular part of your job. The more you adapt to a team and work in the same way as them, understanding each unique way of working, the more skills and knowledge you will pick up from other experienced industry experts.
Even if you know you are not sticking around, your main goal as a freelancer in a medical or hospitality setting should be to work hard and meet the expectations of the person who reached out for your services. By showing you can quickly adapt to how their company works, the manager is more likely to add you to their “Favourites” in the Brigad application, meaning you will be among the first to receive their future missions.
Now that we better understand the importance of adapting to each new organisation, all that’s left to do is to put it in practice! Here are Brigad’s eight best practices for feeling right at home in your next mission.
At school, we all used to cram a few nights before an exam to remember as much information as possible about the exam topic. Well, this can be just as useful when starting a new mission. Take the time a few days before you start to begin gathering information about where you will be working – whether it be the establishment as a whole, the department you’ll be joining, or the staff in your future team.
You can find much of these details online, but don’t forget to ask around, too. Our industries are close-knit communities, and maybe one of your freelance colleagues already carried out a mission at the same place and has some precious advice for you. You can, of course, also plan a call with the client to ask some preliminary questions about the work environment.
Another great technique is to type the establishment’s name into Google’s “News” feature. The results will give you powerful insight into the company’s current challenges and future ambitions in one handy list – from their latest press releases to professional reviews and reports.
With businesses ever-more present online, it is relatively simple to glean even the smallest nuggets of information, and it will save you time asking basic questions when you arrive for the job. Also, it’s always a good idea to impress your co-workers and superiors by showing that you’ve done your homework.
An additional handy tip: check the address and the start time of the mission to be sure you are in the right place at the right time. There’s nothing like punctuality for making a good first impression!
When there are too many tables to clear or beds to change – and not enough hands! –, it is not always easy to hide your stress and show how positive and likeable you are. What’s more, at the beginning of a mission, there are so many things running through your mind, not least the conscious effort to adapt to your new team’s processes and procedures. This doesn’t leave much space for your personality to shine through and can even lead to you looking stern and unapproachable.
Don’t worry – take a deep breath and look at the bigger picture.
Yes, as a freelancer, you are an industry expert that your new team can rely on for backup, but you are not expected to be 100% operational the second you step through the door. Feel free to show that you are in a good mood and excited about being part of the family, albeit temporarily. And remember that wealth of experience you have behind you? Well, while you’re learning the ropes in this new workplace, don’t be afraid to show some professional initiative and reassure your client that you are there to take the stress off of their team.
Before you get stuck in yourself, start by observing what the other members of the team are doing – and how. The more freelance missions you carry out, the more information you will be able to retain at pace. Every mission is an opportunity to train in this, so be attentive to what is happening around you. Be curious. This will help you better figure out who does what, understand the establishment’s unique processes, the tools and jargon they use, and the overall team culture.
Make the most of this observation time to work out which colleagues you will be working with the most, and who may be a useful mentor if you have any questions down the line.
Adapting to a new organisation is all about accepting that every workplace you are a part of is different, and your creature comforts and habits may not transfer well from one place to the next. That is the beauty of freelancing in a hotel, restaurant, bar, or indeed healthcare environment – each establishment has its own ways of doing things, from preparing cocktails to taking care of patients.
In order for things to go as smoothly as possible, it is essential to be open to new experiences. Don’t compare every part of a mission to the last (or worse, criticise one establishment’s way of working just because you are not used to it); trust in your new co-workers to know the best processes for their environment. Remember, you are there to take a little bit of weight off their shoulders, so you should adapt to how they do things, and not try to impose your own ways.
Having the courage to ask questions is the single best way to quickly understand and adapt to a new work environment. Remember, from a client’s perspective, it seems very unusual to not have any questions at all before taking on your new role. However, for every question you have, there can be a little voice inside your head that makes you worry about coming across as unintelligent, or perhaps even nosy. Don’t panic, though – knowledge is a tool, so the more questions you ask, the better equipped you will be to carry out your freelance mission successfully, working harmoniously alongside the team already in place.
While asking sensible questions shows a real willingness to adapt to the team, you must be careful not to ask them at inappropriate times. Avoid interrupting your co-workers if they are busy or concentrated on another task. You should be able to use your initiative and draw on other experiences to try to find an adequate solution yourself.
Working relationships play a huge role in helping people adapt to new professional situations. Fostering healthy and friendly working relationships with the team helps you fit in and feel at home, making your mission so much more fulfilling. So, even if you know you are not staying long, take the time to get to know your colleagues on a personal level.
Freelancers can have the reputation of being aloof and unwilling to adapt to their new surroundings, so find some common ground with your co-workers and break down that barrier. The pleasant exchanges you have with them will stick in their mind when looking for a freelancer next time, and you’re more likely to get a call back.
For example, during coffee or meal breaks, it can be tempting to keep your eyes fixed firmly on your phone before going back to the job at hand, so try to make an effort to be open and chat with someone else. Simple small talk can lead to more in-depth conversations about things you have in common, and you are guaranteed to have at least one thing in common with everyone in your new team: your industry. Start by talking about your experiences and ask about theirs. Don’t forget that every exchange is a potential networking opportunity that could help further your career in the future.
And remember – be open, positive, and genuine. You never know, you may even make a meaningful long-term connection with someone.
We have already talked about asking questions, but asking for feedback is another way to show your desire to improve and fit in seamlessly with an establishment’s way of working. Since freelance positions in healthcare, hospitality, and other industries are temporary, it doesn’t seem immediately obvious to ask managers for a meeting to discuss progress, but it is an excellent way for you to improve your skills for future missions, and for your client to get to know you a bit better.
Speaking with your manager during and at the end of a mission allows you both to express the good (and maybe bad) points of your work, see if you would like to work together again, and it encourages the client to leave you a good review on Brigad, helping you land more missions in the future. Similarly, if you take the time to tactfully address any issues you may have encountered, it will help the client improve how they onboard freelancers in the future, although if you do not feel comfortable bringing up certain topics, you can always talk to one of our team and we will pass the message on.
We are going to end on a point that may seem totally obvious. Freelancers are often expected to jump in at the deep end when starting a new mission, and often don’t have the time to concentrate on adapting to a new work environment. Sometimes, though, you have to admit that starting a new mission can be quite challenging, and you may feel that you need more time to fully adapt. That is totally normal.
The people you will be working with at this new mission don’t always have the time to explain everything to you, either, but don’t feel frustrated or discouraged. Remember, the only person you really need to impress is your client – ensure that you carry out the mission as described by the team manager to the best of your ability. Don’t pay any attention to those team members that roll their eyes every time you ask a question, or make a song and dance out of every slight mistake. (These people exist in every workplace, whether you are a freelancer or not). By drawing on your experience and expertise as a freelancer in your industry, your initiative is your most powerful tool for fulfilling your client’s expectations.
Ready to get started in a new mission? Brigad allows freelance workers in hospitality and medical and social care to work in their own way. We send daily mission offers and you have total freedom to choose which ones you accept. Becoming a Brigader couldn’t be easier – simply create your profile and take it from there!
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