With lockdown affecting a number of businesses, recruitment has been sitting at the bottom of the priority list for many. But if you’re looking to add new people to your team, the idea of onboarding a new person entirely from home can be daunting. What if they are different in person? Can I trust them to do the job? What if they need lots of help?
Cloud9 recently welcomed Holly Lambe, a new Office Junior, into the team. Looking back on her first month as an entirely remote employee, we share some top tips from her experience to make onboarding from home a success.
1. Allow time for learning
Holly says: “I had no prior experience in the tech sector, and having come from a hospitality role I was used to working very much face-to-face. I was worried at first that I would struggle, but the fact I was able to learn in the peace of my home environment meant I have got up to speed quickly.”
Be mindful that your new starter will need to get up to speed quickly. They won’t have the luxury of overhearing a conversation between team members, or listening in on phonecalls which could fill gaps in their knowledge.
Leverage the fact that they are at home and away from distractions to encourage them to learn as much as they can about the business (and your industry if they are new to it) and afford them the time and space to become knowledgeable.
“My top tip would be to keep a journal or record of all of the things that you have been learning. This helps to reflect and look back on your progress, as well as serving as a reminder of how to do something if you forget. Sometimes you may feel like you aren’t making much progress but looking back on my journal is a huge motivator for me, realising how far I’ve come. I had never heard of CRM a month ago, now I’m writing about it!”
2. Keep up the culture
Transferring and maintaining your culture to an entirely remote setting can be a huge challenge. How do you keep up your highly social culture when you’re not catching people for chats at the kettle, or having your usual payday social? It can be even harder to ensure a new starter gets a feel for and integrates into your workplace culture.
“One of my main concerns as a young person, was not integrating socially and feeling lonely. Working remotely there is the concern that while you are out of sight you are out of mind. Yet, while everyone is working from home you get an insight into their everyday life which you might not get from working alongside each other in an office for months. Take advantage of this unconventional way of meeting and embrace the initial awkwardness – it is possible to connect virtually!”
By marrying professional and informal communications appropriately, this is how you will get the most out of the experience.
Having a hub for team chat and fun is a great way to replace the everyday chatter that would normally occur in an office environment. At Cloud9, we have a number of initiatives to keep the fun and positive culture alive.
A ‘Fun and Good News’ team chat, encouraging banter, positive updates, and good news stories, and a regular video team check in, where each team member has a minute and a half to speak on how they are feeling personally and at work, and sharing any nuggets of info with the team.
3. Try a fluid approach to departments
Why not get your new employee to get a taste of all aspects of the business? In a usual office setting, you’d have departments sitting close by and it would be much easier to get involved. But working remotely, still make sure that new starters have these opportunities.
“You do have to show a certain level of initiative and curiosity. I had never previously worked in an office environment, so getting an overview of how a business runs on every level was important to me. Since I have had experience in almost all departments, including Project Management, Finance, Sales, Partnering, HR and Office Management. But it was Marketing which I found myself most drawn to. Don’t feel that you are ‘not experienced enough’ to just ask to sit in on a call and see how it goes – clients actually usually like to see that investment in people and training.”
We aim to cultivate a coaching culture, where all employees are encouraged to continue learning from each other. CEO Carlene Jackson, says “Once you have stopped learning, it is time to move on.”
Provided you have a growth mindset and take advantage of all of the opportunities available to you, it is still possible to get a well-rounded experience of an office environment remotely.
4. Communicate often
Utilising software, such as Microsoft Teams, is so important for maintaining communication with a new starter. Learning remotely is a new experience for us, as is training remotely. So accept that the process may not be entirely smooth at first, but by communicating often and effectively you should find a way to mitigate this.
“One thing that attracted me to Cloud9 was its fast pace. The constant flurries of activity means there is always something going on and something new to learn. My advice would be to always make sure that you receive adequate training and guidance for a task. Having never worked in the tech world before, occasionally people would assume knowledge which I just didn’t have – a quick mention at the time saves problems further down the line. Insist that people give you the time and training required or else you won’t be able to your job to the best of your ability.
Pushing yourself is, of course, important but without a strong basis of knowledge you will not be able to reach your full capacity. Communication is essential for this.”