Adapting onboarding processes for remote working

July 20th, 2020 Written by Infinity Works

We work very hard to make Infinity Works a friendly and welcoming place to start the next step in the career journey of each of our employees. The primary goals of our induction and onboarding programme are to help new employees acclimatise into their new office, meet colleagues and get a sense of what kind of business Infinity Works is.

But from mid-March we had to change our onboarding process very quickly in order to ensure new recruits experienced the same level of insight, knowledge and the big welcome that they would have had in a physical office.

Charlotte Goulding, Head of People Ops, explained,

At Infinity Works we are quick to adapt to our circumstances and that's exactly what we have done with our onboarding process.

We looked at how we could offer the best experience for newcomers to ensure they had a full induction and how they could feel part of our team very quickly. Our culture is really important to everyone here and we have a very friendly atmosphere. So with a bit of organisation, we were able to shift that experience into the online space with video meet-ups and making space for socialising with colleagues.

Looking forward, we have acknowledged that we won't be moving back to the 'old normal' overnight, it will be a very gradual process. As employees have the option to move back to the office spaces, we will continue to adapt our onboarding and induction processes as necessary.

Importantly, our induction process doesn't simply end after one week. We have an ongoing process where we check in on new employees to find out what support they need as an individual. Their support is then carried on by their advocate, account lead and regional board right through their career.

Charlotte GouldingDirector of PeopleOps, Infinity Works

Remote onboarding: how does it work?

From the admin-side of onboarding, our HR portal Bamboo already means that employees enter their own details and keep them up to date, and contracts can be signed online using HelloSign. Our IT department ensures that all equipment arrives the week before start date, and each office manager sends out a welcome box of goodies, which has proved immensely popular.

So the important part – and also the hardest to replicate remotely – is all about getting to know the business and its people.

Early on, our People Ops team drew up a detailed schedule of everything that should happen when a new employee joined while we were working remotely. We have important touchpoints for the first day; the first week and then for the end of month one.

There is a large amount of information to cover, so the checklist ensures that everyone in People Ops, regional office managers, advocates, account leads and the regional board all know where their own responsibilities lie.

Before COVID-19, we ran an ‘Infinite Day’, which was a full day session in our Leeds HQ, where new employees would meet the founders, given a guide to consultancy and a talk through career progression with People Ops. 

Now, this has been moved into smaller video meeting sessions, which can run throughout the first week, rather than all in one day. 

Slack is our main communication channel so a new channel has been set up called #RemoteCoffeeBuddies which enables new starters to be randomly matched for a video coffee chat with another employee in any office. This replicates the coffee machine chat which means you get to know colleagues working on different projects to yourself through chit-chat in the kitchen.

There are also numerous other team chats, lunchtime events, our IWTV video interviews and even our internal mini-conference for newcomers to join in with – all virtually from their home office. 

We have even continued our new starter group emails with the various people Photoshopped into place with their new colleagues – adding a certain comedic value! 

But how did our people find joining a new business during a global pandemic and UK lockdown?

Katie Figueira is a highly experienced agile delivery lead and started working at Infinity Works Manchester in April. She said:

Working in an agile environment, where really good communication is key, I was worried about how I'd keep in regular contact with two teams when we're all physically apart.

I needn't have worried though. Despite me not meeting anyone in person, I feel like I know everyone so well and if anything, it's actually easier to get in contact with people when they're working from home than when I've previously been office based. In terms of the company in general, I took part in some great 'Welcome to IW' sessions. This is the first time in a long time that I've actually been given such a good overview of a company I work for. It's so easy to get in touch with people if I need anything and everyone seems genuinely interested in helping me to progress my career here at IW.

Kate FigueiraAgile Delivery Lead, Infinity Works

Calum Dickson started in our Edinburgh office in May as a senior consultant, and said:

Remotely onboarding with IW was a breeze. From day 1, colleagues across the business reached out to make sure I had everything I needed, and I immediately felt like part of the tribe. The Infinite Day sessions were a great way to learn about the wider company culture, and the localised Edinburgh Town Hall meetings provided a warm welcome to our close-knit team north of the wall.

My number 1 priority in a new role is becoming productive as quickly as possible, and I was well supported in doing so. On the IW side, everything ‘just worked’, from laptop and peripherals arriving comfortably in advance of my start date, to all accounts being set up seamlessly. Making such a move during lockdown sounds a bit daunting, but in reality it’s been a welcome distraction from current events, and the last few months have flown by!

Calum DicksonSenior Consultant, Infinity Works

Charlotte Barnes started in Leeds in May as a consultant, and said:

Joining Infinity Works in the middle of a global pandemic was a daunting prospect, but that was quickly calmed by the communications I had from the team before joining. I had a laptop delivered to my house before my start date and even when I realised that a different laptop would be preferable for the work I was doing, that was organised and sorted practically the same day.

I started on a project on my first day, which was great to feel part of a team immediately, with video calls made it feel a lot more personal. I was also invited to Friday night virtual drinks straight away - this might be the most sociable group of people I have ever worked with!

While I thought that joining remotely would impact my onboarding, it felt like people made loads of time to get to know me and share their knowledge. I've been given the tools to make a great start and am looking forward to meeting everybody face to face.

Charlotte BarnesConsultant, Infinity Works

Now hiring!

Infinity Works is recruiting for a number of roles across our offices in Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh and London. 

Find out more about working at Infinity Works, and view our current vacancies.