An unprecedented situation - we all know what I'm talking about - has resulted in almost continuous work from the home office in the past year - the days in the office were few and far between. Established processes that have been cherished so far have reached their limits. Processes had to be reconsidered and redesigned - including our ongoing pre-boarding and onboarding processes, of course.
Full order books left no doubt for us, even in the Corona crisis, new employees will start at Combeenation - a challenge in the home office, for employees as well as for companies. However, it was clear to us - technically none of this is a problem. But the culture is more difficult to arrive virtually. And this is exactly where we had to start with our considerations ...
... our goal: to retain new employees from the home office before the first working day, provide effective support and inspire them right from the start.
Manuel Lanzerstorfer was welcomed with a Combeenation onboarding package at the start. An appreciative gesture that was already established in pre-Corona times and should welcome our newcomer with open arms before day 1. He started as a QA engineer at Combeenation at the beginning of November - of course in the middle of the lock down and consequently from the home office.
These days, newcomers and job changers at all levels of the hierarchy experience unusual first hours in their new job. Whether boss, team leader, developer or project manager: Instead of the first trip to the office, a bit excited, often overdressed, many prospective employees simply open their laptops at the living room table while working from home - and are suddenly at their new job. As in many organizations, onboarding has always been a high priority at Combeenation. The realization: A well-structured introductory phase is central to successful joint work. So that the pre-boarding process or the onboarding process can run virtually for the time of the crisis and, of course, in some cases beyond, we have set the following measures and priorities ...
... our central question: How do I successfully onboard new employees from the home office?
The perfect technical equipment and the first steps
In short - onboarding from the home office is about implementing and continuing the content and strategies of the onboarding process using technical aids - of course only in the areas in which this is possible. Without the right technical equipment, working from home is difficult - this of course also applies to the existing workforce. Our employees are provided with a “ready to use” laptop with which they can access the company drives from home. In addition to the video conference tool (Microsoft Teams), our central communication tools are also our company-wide messenger (Slack).
In addition to the complete equipment, communication is essential for remote onboarding. All the necessary information is sent to our new employees in advance, including our Combeenation Onboarding folder with all relevant processes, the current organizational chart, a brief presentation of the company values, etc.
What was your first day at work like?
Manuel: I will probably remember this day for a long time. Because an almost empty company, almost empty containers and empty offices welcomed me. When I arrived at my new workplace, I received my new laptop and was first given a warm welcome by a few, if few, new colleagues. After a short time, it was time for me to say hello to onboarding from the home office, because Combeenation had already set up measures to protect employees at this point.
When you come to a new company, you first have to understand the corporate culture and team structures. Is it easy to digitally see through the structures and processes?
Manuel: The digital contact with colleagues was very easy and smooth right from the start. It was not difficult for me to quickly grasp the processes and to get an overview of the respective projects, especially since I was able to ask questions digitally very quickly in various 1: 1s and learned everything else that was important.
The Social Thing
Arriving and feeling good in a company and in the team is important and also affects the onboardee's work performance. We at Combeenation in particular place great value on solidarity, respect and corporate culture. Only when all employees feel comfortable they achieve the best possible service for our customers and thus contribute to the company's success with their full potential.
In times like the Corona crisis, which requires working from home and at the same time avoiding social contacts, activities with the team such as B. the common lunch or short coffee rounds away. This increases the difficulty of integrating the new employee.
To promote team cohesion even in the challenging virtual times, there are regular short coffee rounds (check-ins) in the individual departments to clarify open questions or concerns on the one hand and on the other hand to enable an informal exchange of information and getting to know each other better. In addition to the virtual coffee rounds, an attempt is also made to convene a joint after-work beer at least once a month - naturally after the actual working hours and on a voluntary basis. Experience so far - only very few people have missed this opportunity.😉
How did you get to know each other digitally?
Manuel: It happened very quickly within the team. There was already a digital exchange on the first day of work, also with colleagues who were already in the home office at the time. A few days later there was even a digital after-work beer, which everyone from the entire company attended. To my surprise, not only I was supposed to introduce myself, but everyone, really everyone, introduced themselves briefly to me and so a more familiar welcome quickly emerged, albeit at a distance.
While we're on the subject of social integration: At Combeenation we have a buddy program to make it easier for new employees to get started. How does it work? Existing employees volunteer to integrate new colleagues into the company. The feedback from our new colleagues speaks for itself: They appreciate the fact that they have an experienced contact person who introduces them to the corporate culture, introduces them to the team and provides advice. It also makes sense to set certain framework conditions for a regular exchange such as fixed dates and frequency, agenda, minutes, etc. The dates are then best held via video chat.
How do you like the buddy program?
Manuel: I think this was one of the most important points for me to get to know the projects and structures from a distance in the onboarding process. Even if there are many documents on this, questions keep coming up, and if you know who to turn to right away, you can get to grips with all topics very quickly.
So that the new employee can acquire or deepen the necessary knowledge, e-learning offers are a very good opportunity to close gaps during this time. (Company-specific) content can be made easily accessible and conveyed via our internal training platform. Our impression of the technical onboarding - the digital aspect means that the new employee can complete the individual modules of the onboarding in a much more focused way (possibly undisturbed?). And, thus, more efficiently. The advantage - the new employee can very quickly contribute his know-how in the position intended for him and support the team, projects or our customers.
Manuel: Since the beginning of my work, I have had consistently positive experiences. The intensive exchange, also with the help of the buddy program, was there from the start and gave me a great start.
Even if the onboarding is done remotely, that doesn't mean it has to be impersonal. On the contrary: with our measures we want to ensure that our newcomers become part of Combeenation full of appreciation and motivation.
Our customers also benefit indirectly from our structured onboarding process. Because even in unusual times, top customer service and project management can be guaranteed or even increased by supporting new employees.