The process of starting a new job remotely is very different from the standard face to face onboarding experience. Recently we welcomed Sally Dickson, Group Human Resources Director to Winc. Sally recently shared with us her experience of joining a company remotely, some advice for professionals in the same position and how HR teams can provide a great onboarding experience.
Q: What was your first day like?
A: I had a virtual meeting booked in for 9am, and as I entered the meeting at 9.01am from the comfort of my own home, the team were all laughing and joking that I was late on my first day! I had been trying to work out how to connect on MS Teams, to be all set up and ready to go. It was all in good fun, everyone had a good laugh.
Q: How has starting a new job remotely been different?
A: The thing I love most about being in Human Resources, particularly in those first few weeks of having a new job, is getting out there, being with people, listening and learning. That couldn’t really happen in the usual way this time, but using Microsoft Teams and Workplace by Facebook, we’ve connected virtually. Our Executive team has a 9am meeting every day and we meet as a HR team every other day, so that’s given me a great opportunity to get to know them.
Q: How do you build trust without meeting face-to-face?
A: I think creating personal connections is the key to building trust. Meeting virtually over MS Teams is really just another way of doing face-to-face. I think the secret is to just be yourself and let people see that true authentic you. Being in your home, sometimes with the kids and dog in the background helps to break the ice and build a relationship with my colleagues.
Q: What have you learned from this experience?
A: I think this situation has forced us to prove that we’ve got what it takes to work remotely. As leaders it definitely adds a layer of complexity. So much of being a leader is about working through problems physically alongside people. Finding new ways to adapt has been a rewarding challenge and I think in any circumstance, it’s important to keep adapting as you go.
Q: What can HR teams do to make new starters feel welcome in a remote setting?
A: I think it’s important to help new employees establish a routine and make sure they are regularly connecting with people. When you’re working in the office, it’s normal for people to drop by your desk, so for a remote new starter it could be isolating. Assign someone to check in – whether it’s a manager or a buddy – and help create that social and cultural connection.
Our HR team at Winc has been doing regular check in calls with our new and old team members, which I know people have felt very supported by.
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting a job remotely?
A: Think outside of the box in terms of how to build relationships. Find ways to contribute and get some early runs on the board. Reach out to people and be curious and inquisitive. Ask for help when you need it and get to know your team. You’ll get settled in no time!
“When you’re working in the office, it’s normal for people to drop by your desk, so for a remote new starter it could be isolating. Assign someone to check in – whether it’s a manager or a buddy – and help create that social and cultural connection.”