We make sure new joiners have all the necessary equipment, tools, information, and last, but not least to feel like a part of the company.
So, first of all, we need a detailed onboarding plan. As usual, we identify a coach and a buddy to the new joiner. The choice of coach and buddy is particularly important when onboarding remotely. That has to be someone approachable and talkative. Someone who will for sure make the new colleagues feel welcome. A coach would usually welcome a new colleague at the doors, but this time they meet online. A buddy would usually show the new colleague around and where to get coffee, enjoy Playstation, table tennis, etc. This time the buddy can explain confidentiality issues using a video call and 6 steps to troubleshoot your internet connection :)
We had 2 new joiners being onboarded remotely, Ognjen and Milovan. The first step was picking up their laptops. Since they have to be set up by IT Support, we need a brave soldier for this one: our dear Ana. She got to the office on the first working day of our new colleagues and set up their computers with them. Within 2 meters distance, of course!
Our new colleagues got to know more about Merkle history, our culture and values, organization, tools that we are using, benefits they have rights to, etc. After these introduction-meetings were over, they onboarded on their projects and had certain meetings with their project team. This is all pretty straightforward, right? We would have had these meetings anyway and it is not that big of a deal sharing your screen instead of booking a room and presenting. But how do we make sure our new colleagues feel comfortable and welcome? We made sure that they will have 1:1 meetings with as many people as possible from the company and drink (virtual) coffee with them after lunch. Just chatting about the weather :) Of course, we made sure they are invited to regular gatherings we have, such as Online Quiz with beer every Thursday, Reading Serbian Folk stories by freelance actors, virtual sessions about how to make cheesecake, virtual Yoga lessons, etc. We want to see how they are doing and this is what they said:
Milovan: “I joined Merkle “online”: from initial interview till experience day and on-boarding, everything was done on the Internet. The process was smooth (considering it was a first time experience for both sides), and all the colleagues I interacted with were very helpful and supportive. The downside of the “all online” situation is that I didn’t meet colleagues on a beer day on the awesome terrace at the top of the building with a great view. That, along with working from home, makes you feel a little isolated.”
And Ognjen: “It was definitely a bit more challenging (and interesting, at the same time), but all the colleagues have given their absolute best to make my first weeks as comfortable as possible. All the necessary information was quite well documented, meaning that I always knew where to take a look when finding myself in the need of clarification.
What I miss, of course, is getting back to the office and having the opportunity to operate on a face-to-face basis with people around the office. Until then, I’ll continue following instructions and guidelines provided by my coach and teammates.”
Looks like nothing can replace the small (or big) talks in the kitchen, cheering for the best ping-pong player, finding out what are the pet peeves of your colleagues, approaching your colleague’s desk when having a question or chatting a bit longer with your colleague although you got the answer you were looking for. On the other hand, we can agree we do not miss everyday traffic jams.
No matter how much people look forward to starting working for a new company when they have decided to, it will be a step up from their previous experience, changing a job is a stressful situation. Furthermore, we are living in a stressful time when we are worried about our health and the health of our loved ones. Therefore we need to make enough effort to be sure our new colleagues feel confident in their decision to join us. Because we are!