Onboarding @Home: The NGage Remote

Two intensive days full of information, interaction and inspiration

Sabrina im Home Office

Normally, there is a two-part introductory phase for an onboarding at Merkle, consisting of events on site in Frankfurt and St. Gallen. Especially about the second part at our Swiss headquarters, I've heard a lot of great things from my colleagues in the run-up to the event: "The slots are very interactive", "Great for internal exchange with colleagues from all locations", "I'll never forget the evening event" or "The roof terrace in St. Gallen is awesome! Sure, I was therefore very excited about the onboarding event. But then everything changed... 

Due to contact and travel restrictions, the event will not take place in the usual way, but from the home office. No travel. No personal meeting. And no roof terrace! I am a little disappointed, but above all I am curious what to expect. As a digital agency we are used to working remotely, but how does it work to train new employees from the home office? Can it work?

Remote rather than travelling

Instead of packing my suitcases, I prepare my "desk" (which is actually my dining table, half of which I have now converted into a workstation) in the morning for the next two days: The documents that I received in the mail in advance, laptop and headphones, a bottle of water, snacks (which are also part of the mail package), pen and paper (quite old-school, but you never know what to expect).


With a coffee in my hand I join the video chat, where my colleagues from all our locations are already greeting me. Everyone seems to have read the remote instructions beforehand, because everyone is on time, has the cameras on and switches off the microphones when they are not speaking. Very exemplary! But this is the only way it works. I'm glad about the additional Hangout-Chat, where we can get parallel information about the schedule and the next slots, ask questions or find links to necessary tools. That would have been much too chaotic verbally in the video call!

Where's the Unmute button?

In the round of introductions I immediately learn unexpected things about my colleagues: they are adrenaline junkies, ex-competitive athletes, talented musicians, tireless shopping helpers, soon-to-be-married or soon-to-be-cat mom. Great, now I have a better picture of each one, even if I can't meet them in person.

Then we get into the different slots, which are held personally by our CEO and managing directors - and I notice immediately: All speakers have given a lot of thought to how they can create a great onboarding despite the remote situation. Instead of simply presenting their business area, each slot also has at least one interactive element - this way we can have a good exchange and dialogue despite the virtual meeting. 

hangout together

For example, we solve a case study on customer acquisition, experience a world café remote version on ethical Merkle principles or discuss various aspects of corporate culture in small groups. These breakout sessions take place in small groups in a separate video call.

Afterwards we all meet again in the big "room" and collect the results. This is something completely different and allows a deeper immersion into the topics. We are all financial experts, business strategists, excellent client advisors, marketing gurus and visionaries. But above all, of course, one thing in particular: Merkle experts!

Can you see my screen?

break-out session

My absolute highlight of the onboarding event was the evening event: The Sherlock Challenge. Most people will know it: one team, many tricky puzzles and one hour of time. I have already successfully escaped from many escape rooms - but remotely it was the first time. Virtually the whole thing brings a very special challenge again:

Each team member gets partly different hints on the screen. To bring the clues together and solve the puzzles you have to exchange a lot of information (under time pressure) to explain to the others what you have in front of you. There one sometimes resorts to unusual aids such as an explanation drawing by Photoshop. But I can only say: Yes, we did it! In the end it took us a little more than 60 minutes, but we were able to solve every puzzle without any extra clues. And it was simply a lot of fun!

My conclusion

It was definitely an experience. I really learned a lot and had so much fun. I gained new knowledge, got to know different collaboration tools, "met" new people and just saw a lot of colleagues in one place. It was great to get all the information at first hand - directly from the management. Because that opens up a whole new horizon. I had two really exciting, informative, intensive and beautiful days. And the time just flew by.

These two days were also very exhausting from home: you stare at the screen the whole time and have to listen with concentration. I found discussions in particular to be more difficult because you have to be very careful who speaks when so that the sound doesn't overlap. This also means that you have to plan much more time for interactive slots than for physical meetings. The pauses between the topic blocks were very important to get up in between, briefly loosen up and relax the senses.  

For me it is clear: virtual onboarding does not replace personal contact on site. Unfortunately, an individual exchange in an online meeting is difficult and networking is simply not enough. But I already have my "ticket" to St. Gallen in my hand. Because we'll definitely make up for the personal meeting as soon as possible!

#motivating #inspiring #teamspirit #unforgettable


Kleine Aufmerksamkeit