I am the first hire whom Paul Newman, Insitu’s founder, had never met in person. However, the company was working with a remote team and an office presence even prior to the pandemic, so as the world started shutting down the team already had a functioning system of fostering a trust-based, very transparent culture primarily online. They were also used to working with international clients with many of the core team having lived abroad providing a strong foundation for a successful first remote onboarding. Here are three steps that Insitu took to set me up for success and to make me feel welcome from day one.
#1 Regular casual chats
In my first fortnight, Paul and my most immediate team set (almost) daily chats with me. Many of these calls were light-hearted with ample time for casual conversation and getting to know each other a little better as humans, too. While online interactions will never beat meeting people in real life, having regular casual chats with my colleagues helped me feel secure and welcome. I realize that at larger organizations daily calls with each new hire are going to be a challenge, but investing in getting to know your new team members will go a long way, especially as many of us are heading into the second wave of Covid lockdowns.
#2 Leading by example on work-life balance
Setting boundaries while working from home is a challenge for most, especially as you try to fit in and make sure that your efforts are seen. Being mildly called out for responding to messages even after logging off for the day and seeing that my colleagues take time off when they feel the need to recharge showed me that we don’t just talk about the importance of leading a balanced life. We also actively share our nature walks, new pets, birthdays and the occasional weekend drink with each other. During trying times like these, it’s especially important to show and tell your team that you are taking care of yourself, that you find meaning outside of work and that you expect everyone else in the company to do the same for themselves.
#3 Giving responsibility from the get-go
With sufficient support, giving a new-joiner responsibility signals trust and empowers them. In my first few days, I produced a smaller-scale proposal that I got to present to our partners, had various client calls and took the lead on various mini-projects. Was it scary at first? Yes. Did it help me find my feet very quickly? Absolutely. Having lots of short but important projects early on meant that I could get lots of feedback and gain confidence in my role in a matter of days.
As we look to expand the team in the future, I’m curious to hear what has worked for you.
What are your pro remote onboarding tips?
Written by Eszter Mészáros, Learning Designer