A couple of months ago, we published a two-part blog post on the subject of effective practices in onboarding new members of your team in a software house. I wrote about how to conduct your planning, the essential things that you shouldn’t forget about, and the most important elements of the onboarding process. You can find the full posts here: Part 1 and Part 2.
However, with the current COVID-19 pandemic, we must rethink the process, as it now must be conducted fully remotely. So what should you do? Do you need to throw your original plan out of the window and start again? Or can we adapt the various elements of our existing process to suit the current situation? What challenges are we likely to come up against and how can we prepare for them?
Our 10Clouds Wiki / Intranet
At 10Clouds, we’re aware of the consistently developing nature of the sector in which we work and having worked using Agile methodology for many years, we are no strangers to adapting to our situation. As a result, we’ve created an easy central source of knowledge for our employees which includes everything from general company information through to descriptions of different teams and the processes that they are responsible for.
We use Confluence for our company intranet, but there are other providers out there, so make sure that you do your research. As soon as a new employee joins, they get full access to our intranet, so they can calmly read through all that they need to know about their work, their team, and company culture.
Our intranet includes:
- The mission, vision and values of our company
- The company structure and the biogs of each Head of Department
- Office operations in Warsaw, Wrocław and Poznań
- Company benefits and the education budget
- Logging work hours
- All the important company FAQs
The above information should provide the answers to any questions that may arise in the first few days of work.
One of the most important elements of onboarding is constant communication with your new starter, which is more important than ever when you’re all working remotely. When a candidate
has accepted an offer, and you send out your welcome email, it’s important to stress in it that the first day will happen on the anticipated date, but in a different format. Let them know what you have planned after the first introductory meeting, and what the full day will look like. It’s important to establish this early on and to ensure that your new starter knows what to expect. At 10Clouds, a new starter receives this information via phone, email and also in a calendar invitation.
Meeting your team
Every first day in our company usually takes place in our headquarters in Warsaw. At 10Clouds, more than 30 of our employees work 100% remotely, which is why it’s important that on their first day, they meet as many of the people that they will be working with face to face and to see how the office operates on a daily basis.
In the current circumstances, onboarding and any further meetings with the head of the team should still take place, but via a video conferencing platform. At 10Clouds, we use Google Hangouts for this purpose, but there are a number of different providers out there, so do your research. It’s a simple case of sending your new starter a link that they can access for the meeting. The platform allows screen-sharing too, which can be useful if you’re going through onboarding documents or a presentation.
Pay attention to audio and video quality and check that all your technology is working beforehand. Have your camera switched on, and ensure that you will not be disturbed during the call.
Note that it’s worth having 1:1 meetings with your manager and your team every day, at least for the first few weeks of your employment, so that you can overcome challenges together and get answers to your questions. It’s best to plan this in advance, with your first feedback session after a week of work.
Your ‘To Do’ List
For every new employee who was planning to be office-based, the current situation is totally new and undoubtedly quite stressful. They may be wondering how they might cope, whether they’ll get any support from their manager and fellow team-members and whether they will be given any tasks.
Let’s make sure that we remedy this as much as we can by regularly checking in with the new starter and making sure that the rest of the team knows about their start date and their role so that they can properly welcome them on board. Let’s also have a list of tasks ready for them to work through in the first few days/weeks, as well as invitations to team meetings so that they do not feel left out.
At 10Clouds, we use JIRA for planning our projects, but there are a number of workload management tools out there that you can try. JIRA has a helpful function which enables users to assign tasks to various team members, and to have an easy view of the progress of a project.
Onboarding in remote mode is undoubtedly completely new for many companies, even if they have a well-established process for working from home. Working in Agile mode definitely prepares you better for this scenario, as constant change prompts fast reactions and quick adaptation. However, I do believe that this is a process which every firm will be able to implement with the right planning and tools at their disposal.
If you would like any support with making changes to your existing onboarding process, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me on firstname.lastname@example.org.