Onboarding during COVID-19

On March 23, we welcomed Taylor Gadde as an Account Manager to our team. We knew that Taylor’s onboarding would be unconventional at best, given the current COVID-19 pandemic, so we thought we would share some of our key challenges and successes from both an employee and manager’s perspective.

From Taylor:

Starting a new job is always an exciting experience, but it doesn’t come without its challenges at the best of times. The primary one being information overload – there’s the names of all your new colleagues, learning the routine of your new day-to-day and trying to fit seamlessly into the office dynamic.

Compounding these challenges when I recently started my new role at KLC, is the COVID-19 pandemic. With all levels of governments mandating non-essential workers to stay home, my first week at my new job was almost entirely virtual. The first day handshakes, office tour, lunch with the team, client introductions and Friday wine cart were replaced with Zoom meetings and reheated dinners. But thankfully, there was still a virtual wine cart on Friday to debrief on the past week.

Fortunately, we have technology at our fingertips to help smooth the process. The video onboarding and team meetings are a great way to connect with new colleagues and put faces to names while we’re all temporarily disconnected. Similarly, the Slack groups and fast paced nature of the job provides an opportunity to get right to work and engrained in the flow of the new role.

Lastly, it certainly helps having colleagues who know onboarding during this time is strange and go out of their way to make sure the process is as smooth as possible and make me feel part of the team.

From Janessa, Taylor’s manager:

As a company, we always strive to make our onboarding process as seamless as possible. However, we were forced to get more creative with our plans for Taylor’s arrival during COVID-19. Our team had moved to a remote workforce earlier in March, meaning there was only a skeleton staff available to greet Taylor on his first day to provide him with IT equipment and instructions before he, too, headed back home. One of our main priorities leading up to Taylor’s first day was working closely with IT to ensure Taylor had the proper technology in place to access our server and work remotely. While we quickly thereafter moved to everyone working remotely, we also took precautions to ensure that the few employees who were in the office were practicing social distancing and armed with Lysol wipes and hand sanitizer.

Another key consideration was helping Taylor “meet” the team virtually. We quickly migrated to a video conferencing service to support our remote work and replace in-person meetings. We hosted a series of onboarding meetings for Taylor. We now use Zoom web conferencing regularly to host our weekly team meetings (which traditionally were always done in person), as well connect over a virtual wine cart on Fridays!

Our KLC culture is one of the things that makes us unique so staying connected and making sure Taylor felt like part of the team from the very beginning was essential. We also keep in touch over Slack, both for work and non-work-related chatter. We developed a Slack channel dedicated to remote resources, to share tips and ideas on how to adjust to remote work life, such as ways to stay fit, activities to keep the kids busy and mental health resources. Maintaining many open lines of communication during these tough times can help navigate the uncertainty ahead.

We knew that Taylor’s onboarding process was going to be far from perfect – but we’re really excited about having him join our team and he is fitting in beautifully!

Here are some of our top tips for remote onboarding:

Have the right technology in place: Make sure your organization has the proper technology to support remote work and be open to adopting new technologies to help ensure a seamless transition.

Embrace virtual meetings: Though nothing can replace face-to-face interactions, video chatting platforms can help a new employee get to know the team. Hosting virtual social events can also help boost team morale.

Stay connected: Encourage more frequent check-ins with employees and teams. Remote work can sometimes cause feelings of isolation, so regular check-ins can help teams stay connected. Leverage online messaging tools to help stay in touch.

With “business as unusual” we’ve certainly learned that flexibility, responsiveness and a good sense of humour are key as we all adjust to this new “normal”.