Onboarding @Home: Sherlock instead of Bermuda Triangle

An invitation from a stranger, heated debates about ethics and culture and a nerve-wracking criminal case - that was last week's NGage. Here are some insights behind the scenes from our onboarding event in May!

Einladungspaket zum Remote N.Gage

A journey through time to the origin of the future

Admittedly, our second onboarding event NGage (originally "Merkle besser kennen lernen") is now well known and probably a highlight of the onboarding process for every Merkle employee. Therefore, every new employee is invited to come to St. Gallen during the first six months. This is where the company Delta Consulting was founded about 25 years ago, from which Merkle emerged as we know it today. Travelling back to the origins of what is now a 530-person company also means taking a trip back in time to the beginnings of digital consulting. In doing so, the employees not only immerse themselves in Merkle' corporate values and vision, but also delve deeply into the agency's history. During the two days, participants are invited to ask the management all the questions they have burning under their nails - even those that are drowning normally. The event is topped with an excursion through the impressive cultural treasures of St. Gallen (!) and a great dinner in a first floor restaurant (but who would have thought that the evening usually doesn't end there... well..that's Merkle ). An event with which we want to show our employees from the very beginning how grateful we are to them every day for their creative cooperation, their critical thinking, their strategic know-how, their technical skills and their contribution to our success.

Who the fuck is Christian!?

The participants, who for weeks had to be satisfied with the sparse information about the two-day blocker in their calendars, were quite astonished when they found a small package in their mailbox a few days before the event. Lovingly designed and sent by the respective office management of the location, they found a portion of brain food, instant coffee, merkle-branded writing utensils, a few tips and tricks for remote workshops and a strange message from a guy called "Christian" who was looking forward to meeting them...

Die neuen Mitarbeiter im Videocall versammelt

We started on Thursday. 25 motivated colleagues had all put themselves in the best light and in front of their webcams in an exemplary manner and were not embarrassed to use their microphones, neither at the unconventional check-in nor in the workshops. Even in the first slot, in which our CEO Bernd once again highlighted the values, strategy and vision of Merkle, the participants did not hold back with their questions and our CEO was delighted about the smiling faces and the great commitment of the new, smart employees.

A few gimmicks, organized coincidence and insights into private living rooms

In the following hours, there were exciting insights into the organisation's background, the market- and the financial world of Merkle, as well as a look into the living rooms of the participants. Not only thanks to digital flipcharts and online polls, but also because of the really relentlessly honest answers from the management, the participants were still concentrated and activated even after hours.

Even "random" encounters can be arranged remotely. After lunch, for example, the colleagues were invited for a remote coffee with one person each, whom they mostly did not know yet. A little relaxation before they were confronted with ethical principles and decisions that were not always easy to make in the afternoon in breakout sessions.

I was allowed to accompany the gang through the two days and was thrilled: Such events are - as eventful as they are - very exhausting. Sitting in front of the screen, however, it is a completely different challenge to stay focused and awake. But this was not noticeable to the interested people in any way - they asked questions, made jokes and sometimes even continued to chat during the breaks.

Sherlock Holmes instead of Bermuda Triangle

Einladung zum Remote Escape Room

But how can an evening with candlelight, exciting conversations and delicious cocktails in the Bermuda Triangle be replaced?

Fortunately, we received a short-term customer inquiry from Sherlock Holmes himself and were able to help him, in small groups, to solve one of his most explosive cases.In mixed formations, it was demonstrated here at the latest that neither national borders, nor language differences and certainly not working from the home office are obstacles for collaborative teamwork and solving challenging tasks to us. Therefore nobody had to do without the joint after-work beer. Instead, the way to bed was much shorter.

At the latest on the second day, it became clear to each of the participants that "Christian" was not their remote coffee date, but the persona used by Gregor and Florian to experience the service created by Merkle from the customer perspective. In the end, it all makes sense.

We're not finished with you yet

Although the feedback from the participants as well as the speakers was quite positive, something was missing: the coffee from the sieve carrier machine on the sixth floor. The view from the roof terrace. The common walk around the houses, the personal encounters.

A pity, but unfortunately not feasible at the moment. But we wouldn't be Merkle if we hadn't thought of something for that as well: every Ngage participant found a "Ticket to St. Gallen" in his package. As soon as this will be possible, we will make up for the personal exchange, the animated discussions, the table football tournaments and of course the joint toasting. How exactly?

Of course we won't tell you yet, but we definitely have some crazy ideas :)