Onboarding in remote times – how a factual long-distance relationship can flourish
Find out how our new colleagues Jana and Yannik experienced their digital onboarding:
Jana and Yannik, you have become part of the launchlabs team in very unusual times! Tell me, what were your first thoughts when it became clear that everything would be different from what you thought and planned?
Jana: Absolutely unusual! Our first day was exactly the first official day of the lockdown. Luckily, we still had the chance to come into the office, see a few faces and pick up our computer and that was it! Off home, to the home office. The very next day our virtual familiarization process began.
Yannik, for you it was even harder: You had just moved from Munich to Berlin especially for your internship with us.
Yes, that was the plan, but the day before work started I was told that I wouldn’t be able to get the room I had rented for the next few months. And then I had to make a quick decision, but actually I had no choice and I traveled back. With a heavy heart, because I was looking forward to this time in the capital to gain experience in your great team.
What has enriched you most in this initial period?
Jana: Right from the beginning a Trello board was our digital onboard assistance. On it we found everything we needed and needed to know as new employees, including small practical tasks. Only when we had completed these were we allowed to move the card to “done”. It’s actually quite cool that – detached from Covid19 – new employees have the opportunity to get to know the launchlabs culture and processes anytime and anywhere. But the most important thing at the beginning was the human component. One colleague was responsible for our onboarding right from the start, so that any questions that arose were answered immediately. The questions were not only technical, but also about teamwork, the spirit or launchlabs values, and that was perfectly ok.
Yannik: Exactly that helped me a lot: To have a real buddy who really takes time for you. Here they never said: “Read this”. Even though the board was visibly designed with love and was characterized by interactivity, agility, efficiency and humanity, you first get a feeling for the corporate culture through the people. In return, the daily check-ins* were quite wonderful. The fact that Jana and I were allowed to design them from the very beginning showed us trust and confidence from the team.
Jana: The check-ins gave us both a platform to get to know the team better, and they got to know us. We often addressed very personal issues and worked together visually. This very quickly created a personal, open atmosphere. Also according to the team, who already knew each other from the analog world, this collective start into the day led to more connection.
Yannik: I was also impressed by the digital coffee talks. I was encouraged to schedule time to just talk freely with someone and have a coffee at the same time. It’s really nice to talk about each other’s visions, interests and expertise in this way, and to see where my help was needed and where I could actively offer it. Sometimes we enjoyed a walk instead of coffee, sometimes with video, sometimes only with sound. This variety was quite good on such a “computer-bound” day.
What was difficult for you?
Yannik: That we couldn’t see each other in real life. Only when I left (Yannik had a 3-month internship with us, editor’s note) was I able to meet several of you – by far. But that strengthened the wish and the joy to be part of the team even more.
Jana: That we could not experience and try out your premises live. And that we did not have the chance to travel around to meet the customers. That would have been the main part of my new job. Nevertheless, the direct work with the client was not neglected. We quickly transformed existing formats into the virtual world so that we could do this remotely with the customer. One of my highlights was the planning and execution of our first virtual launchlabs community event, the ComX2020. I got to know so many new aspects of the virtual world, tried out new tools and understood what digital collaboration and remote networking really means. In addition, I saw what is possible at launchlabs when you take the initiative as a new colleague, and that valuable support is not “nice-to-have” but a matter of course.
What tips would you have for other companies that want/may need to remotely onboard new employees?
Jana & Yannik: Go for it! It is possible! As I said, it was great for us to be in contact with the team for a short time every day. In addition, all online tools and programs were fantastically prepared: directly available in the cloud, a well-prepared digital onboarding board with a personal contact person to whom we could ask our questions and Trello as a great help when it comes to structuring and processing the tasks. In the end it is the team that makes the difference and makes the onboarding process special.
Our tip to all companies: Ensure that new employees feel invited to quickly get to know their new colleagues digitally and are invited to join in, listen in and create their own initiatives at any time. Of course, the initiative should also come from existing colleagues – invite the newcomers for a digital coffee, digital coffee tastes great too!