Onboarding a new colleague during a pandemic

Onboarding a new colleague during a pandemic

By Sophie Blackband & Emily Liddle
21 April 2020

It is without doubt a nerve wrecking experience leaving your job and starting a new one, but doing this during a global crisis? Those nerves are bound to be magnified. But we saw this as an opportunity. We wanted to ensure that we delivered the best onboarding that we could for our new colleague, Emily.

First and foremost, we needed to give reassurance. It was more crucial than ever to ensure Emily knew we were preparing to deliver our onboarding remotely, so as always, communication was key!

Secondly, preparation. Just before lockdown, we asked Emily to collect her IT equipment from the office and set up those initial logon details… all done at a safe distance of course!

Thirdly, security. Before Emily’s official start date we wanted her to know that it was business as usual (well as usual as possible) and so gave her early access to Workplace, our main internal communication platform. This meant she was kept up to date with the strategies we were putting in place to achieve our two primary goals during this challenging time. Firstly to protect the health and safety of our colleagues and their families, and secondly, ensure that we are prepared to power out of this when the time comes! But not only is Workplace a great tool for us to update our colleagues, it also provides some light relief with our chat groups such as 'Rate my plate' and 'Pets at home!'

We’ve always taken a lot of pride in our onboarding experience, right from the moment they’re greeted at the door with a smiley face and a brew, to dropping off their belongings at their desk which is set up with welcome gifts and wrapped in a bow! We knew Emily’s onboarding would be different, but the face to face time and learning about how we operate was crucial. We use Microsoft Teams which gave her the opportunity to meet our department heads from, Sales and Marketing, to Development, to Client Services. We’ve all been working remotely for a month so were confident in being able to carry out other crucial tasks, such as setting up necessary accounts and ensuring the right access. Not forgetting, we also sent her a digital voucher for 'Pimp your desk' - £20 for Emily to spend on something for her desk (although she may just have to wait a few weeks to use it).

We’ve used other great tools to ensure that this was a smooth process, such as building templates in our e-signature software so that all the paper stuff is digital.

There was always going to be a few small hiccups, but with a quick video call or message on Teams, she knew we were getting it sorted.

Although we couldn’t shower Emily with welcome gifts and carry out that all important tour of the building, showing her where Sweep sleeps, where to find Pac-Man or the tuckshop, we did our very best to ensure that Emily felt welcome, involved and informed right from the get go… and with the feedback we received we think our first remote onboarding was a success. But don’t just take my word on it, over to you Emily....

When I accepted my new role within the Account Management team, the world was a different place and it was business as usual. I had a start date of the 14th April and was excited at the prospect of joining the team. I envisaged arriving at the office and taking a tour of the building, meeting new colleagues at their desks and eventually taking a seat at my own…

Even though this didn’t quite go as I imagined, I’ve not only been impressed with how thorough my induction has been, but how pleased I am to be joining a company where each colleague is so welcoming and friendly!

In anticipation of lockdown, I received a call to head into the office and collect my laptop ready for my start date. I was met by Callum, who handed me my equipment and guided me through the information to gain access on my first day. As day one approached I joined Workplace for Selenity and started to get to up to date with the current company news!

First thing I had was a quick refresher with Callum to ensure everything was up and running on my laptop. This was made super easy using Microsoft Teams screen share function. I checked in with Sophie who went through everything I needed to know about my induction from the training that I was going to be completing, to the policies that needed reading which were all easy to access through links sent to me.

I then went on a series of 15-30 minute meetings with each department within the business. This gave me the chance to meet my new colleagues and get to know a little more about the different operations and how they interact. This was a real highlight for me as each department had their own style on how they present what they do. It meant that I got to see some fantastic powerpoints, drawings and systems giving me the chance to really absorb the information that was being shared.

Most importantly, this was not an overwhelming experience with lots of technical hiccups but rather a smooth and well-coordinated day. My meetings had been pre-booked into my calendar and so all I had to do was join the Teams meeting at the relevant time.

As much as I am really looking forward to getting into the office and returning to business as usual, I’m confident that my training and work will not be compromised by my dining table desk! 


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