lunch at Emakina

Onboarding in times of COVID-19

Our working lives have changed over the past few weeks, instead of walking around in our spacious office with a view on ‘het IJ’, we are now working from our; nurseries, guest bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms. 

Sometimes I pinch myself; “is this real?” As a tech-recruiter I speak with people around the world, now even more than ever, I look forward to my interviews. Asking people ‘how are you doing,” has really gotten a new layer. 

Apart from getting used to “WFH,” working life has continued, as anywhere, we at Emakina also had to make some adjustments. We anticipated the consequences of COVID-19 and created an emergency plan. After the decision was made official by the dutch government on thursday the 27th of march, we said our ‘goodbyes,’ and joked about some of our techy colleagues, who walked out of the office with their pc-screens under their arms. Back then some of us really thought all of this would be short-term. 

A couple days later we decided to dive into all of the processes connected to recruitment, HR and company culture, what now? One of the first things that came up was the onboarding of our new hires right after the official WFH-period, how do you completely onboard your new colleague remotely?

1. Be prepared

As with anything, be prepared! Remember that one job, where you started and just thought what am I doing here?! Let’s try to avoid that. Nothing worse than a bad onboarding. 

Our HR-officer together with SYSadmin (IT) makes sure most tools are accessible and new Emakinians are ready to go – whether they are working remote (or not). Think about the email account, security tools and specific occupational tools (Design, Dev, project management). Additionally, it is very important to make sure the onboarding is aligned with all the stakeholders (the manager, HR, office management etc.). We inform everyone timely about the first day of the new employee. 

Normally, at the office we look at the best place to locate the desk of the new hire, and we prepare the desk with all the tools needed (keyboard etc.). If we speak about a remote onboarding, it is important to think about the way your new hire will be working from home. The best way really, is to discuss this with them and find out what is needed for them to be able to work comfortably from home. We also look into possibilities of sending in the most important necessities (laptop, screen etc.).

2. Do not change anything

Literally don’t. As warmly you would welcome your new hires to the office, as warmly you can welcome them to your virtual office. Normally several meetings are scheduled during the first week, we schedule all these meetings via ZOOM, this way new employees have their first-week schedule ready and they get acquainted through “remote coffee’s.”

3. Be there, be present

By checking in regularly with our new hires – new colleagues, whether you were the recruiter in charge or you are the manager; you make sure you are there, every step along the way. As a recruiter I always find the moment my hires spread their wings and fly off into the company to be a proud moment, at the same time it does not mean that everything needs to end there, where the recruitment process ends, the becoming-colleagues-phase starts for us.

4. Do not forget to have fun

Do not forget to have fun? Or do not forget to create fun moments? Referring back to ‘do not change anything;’ It’s lunch, coffee, drinks, bootcamp & repeat. We try to maintain meeting each other for our weekly social activities. Every Thursday the bootcamp team still does bootcamp together, but then via ZOOM. Every friday we still have our friday drinks together, we have a weekly scheduled company lunch; anyone can join and catch-up (we try to keep it fun by including a theme). We also have created a WFH trello-board, here we logg – together with 70 colleagues fun tips & tricks, from ‘how to build your own standing desk, to several HR-initiatives. 

We also have different slack-groups going strong. One that I parti-culinary (no pun intended) enjoy, is “Cooks of Emakina.” I would have never guessed that so many of my colleagues are absolute legends in the kitchen, we share beautiful recipes in the group, it is truly incre-edible.

5. Be ‘a Buddy!’

Whether it comes to sharing knowledge, to ‘meeting for remote coffee,’ or just be available in case a new colleague has some questions. 

At Emakina we have a buddy system, this is a list of colleagues who have volunteered to clear a bit of time during the onboarding period (but also after) and guide new hires through the first weeks, remotely this is done by scheduling some 1:1 time, get to know each other, connect them with other colleagues, answer questions or make suggestions. This continues as long as necessary, at the office buddies sometimes go for coffee or lunch together, this has not changed; people find and make time to get acquainted with each other. 

Besides this we have created a Quarantaine companion initiative. Here we connected colleagues who signed up to become each other’s support during COVID-19, some just catch-up weekly with each other, some play houseparty and some drink wine together.

6. How are you doing?

Still the most important question to ask – (and ask some more yourself). The spontaneous social interactions that were present in our day-to-day working lives have disappeared. Checking in once or twice with colleagues that you’d run into at the office – but do not directly work with – is a very nice thing to do. During these somewhat challenging times you can develop new relationships or invest more in your working relationships by creating some face-to-face time; remote that is. 

Check out the following video with Recruiter Nouha, HR officer Esther & UX hire Yuri about the remote onboarding at Emakina.NL during COVID-19.

Do you have any questions about Emakina’s recruitment process during COVID-19? Check out our FAQ page, hopefully this helps!

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