Working from home is hard. Many of us have done it for many years, but still, effectively doing your job remotely poses a lot of challenges. Now imagine starting a new job remotely under these circumstances.
Here’s my experience
As a new hire in product marketing at Salesloft, I was thrilled I was scheduled to spend my first few days on the job at our annual conference in San Francisco. The following week I was set to fly to our Atlanta headquarters, participate in formal onboarding, get my feet wet, and bond with my fellow Lofters.
That didn’t happen. And I’m not alone. A dozen coworkers found themselves in the same boat.
For many of us “new hires,” face-to-face introductions and in-person onboarding was replaced with video conferencing — a whole lot of video conferencing.
From new employees to those responsible for onboarding, training, and managing them, life is a lot different than it was pre-COVID-19. Without the advantage of in-person, immersive onboarding, we had to get creative.
All Hail Broadband, SaaS, and Shipping and Delivery Services
To get new employees up and running you need technology and a remote onboarding process. It’s a huge advantage if an organization is already set up with SaaS, VPNs, and other remote-access technologies. In fact, I pretty much only needed a solid broadband connection to get started.
I have to give a BIG shoutout to Salesloft’s IT department for getting me everything I needed, shipped right to my door before my first official day began.
Some helpful tips for a smooth technology transition:
- Tech. Ship a laptop with all the applications needed to start the onboarding process. Provide some simple instructions (think mail and calendar access). A responsive support team goes a long way in those first few days of onboarding.
- Hiring managers. Work with IT to ensure your new hire has access to all the role-specific applications he or she needs. Let them know which ones they might need to start familiarizing themselves with immediately and which ones they can push out a week or so.
Here’s an example of the technology and apps I used over the first several weeks at Salesloft, each week building on the next.
- Week 1: Laptop, headset, keyboard/mouse, email, calendar, video conferencing software, learning management (LMS), internal chat and collaboration, IT helpdesk
- Week 2: Content management system, payroll, HR, benefits
- Week 3: CRM, sales engagement, role-specific applications (i.e. internal asset management, marketing analytics, etc.), plug-ins, and productivity apps, expenses
Sorry, I Was Muted. Can You Hear Me Now?
One of the hardest parts of working remotely is not having that built-in sense of connection you have in a typical office setting. For new hires, onboarding remotely — without having met most of the team in person — poses its own challenges but yields some surprising benefits, too.
Connecting remotely gives us a glimpse into each other’s personal and home lives that we wouldn’t have seen otherwise. While it might slow down onboarding, it has accelerated relationship-building.
The Salesloft teams have done an excellent job at making me and my peers feel included and comfortable through creativity and holding true to our core company values.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that helped make my transition into my new role more memorable and effective.
- 30-60-90 Day Plan: Establish a clear expectation of what a new hire can expect and will be responsible for in their first 30, 60, and 90 days. This gives your new hire a clear picture and provides comfort in a challenging time of transition.
- Daily Stand-Ups: Give your team a short daily opportunity to keep each other updated. Take turns going through what each team member accomplished the day before, what’s on the docket for today, and any issues or blockers that could impede progress.
- 1-on-1s: Provide a list of people in the organization your new hires should be introducing themselves to via 30-minute one-on-one meetings. Have a two- or three-bullet agenda and ask about what books people would recommend. This begins to develop the relationships that they might typically make in day-to-day office interactions.
- Brain Dumps: Have new hires take dedicated time (an hour a week outside of onboarding) to meet with a seasoned team member to ask questions — any questions — and learn the team dynamics, company culture, process, and roles and responsibilities.
- Team Lunch: Team lunches have been a great, informal way to get to know the team. We’ve even inserted activities — like an online game — to lighten the mood.
- Happy Hours: Virtual happy hours for the extended team are a good “get to know you” activity. We make an agenda for ours to keep things interactive. Scavenger hunts (within the confines of your home) are great for bonding and entertainment.
- Fitness Breaks: We all need to stay sane and accountable for our physical well-being. Having a team hold you accountable works well. We have a daily (and completely voluntary) 7-minute workout scheduled for the team to join and move around a bit.
In the long run it has strengthened our sense of connection on a much deeper level.
For many managers out there, this might be their first time onboarding and ramping employees remotely. So what can leaders do to maintain the morale of their new hires? How do leaders foster that sense of belonging and tie it all back to a larger purpose? As it turns out, a lot.
- Managing remotely is a learned skill. So is working remotely. Treat these new skills accordingly, and build in extra space for learning, forgiveness, and growth.
- Tie back to a why. Make sure to clearly articulate each individual’s contribution (purpose) and how it plays an important part in everything from marketing to sales to customer success.
- Keep your finger on the pulse. Help managers stay on top of their teams and pipelines. For Salesloft users, our new Analytics Overview provides an instant health check on your sales process and team performance.
- Make note of the learnings and upsides. Perhaps the most important lesson to come out of all of this is to understand that being apart can, in fact, enhance our connections. We’ve been forced to learn to work differently and, in some cases, more effectively. Make sure you have a way to remember and learn these lessons so that when things go back to normal, you don’t just go back to the way things were.
I hope to carry all the positive learnings forward as life transitions to our new normal.
For pro tips on selling using Salesloft remotely and in this strange environment, check out our Thrive Content Hub where we post and share more helpful content.