Joining a business in lockdown

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May 2021

They said sing “Happy Birthday” twice while washing our hands – now we know why! Some people are having their second pandemic birthdays, and some of us are having one year ‘working from home’ anniversaries after the oddest year of our working lives. Lots of companies like ours moved to 100% working from home and we have only had the odd office day for a few of us in the last 14 months.

In that time, seven new people have joined the Adactus team. Welcoming these colleagues and seeing them get up to speed without the usual face-to-face office time has been fascinating.

For my part, I am grateful for the professional way everyone – the arriving employees, their welcoming colleagues, the creator (Becca) and implementors of our induction programmes – has helped us change wheels without slowing down! But I wanted to check – what has it really been like to be recruited and join the company during this period? What is it like to become part of a team when you never / hardly ever meet your colleagues?

We have plenty of people to ask – Kate, Kerri, Louise, Mark, Ray, Josie and Joel have all joined Adactus since last March (we recruit mainly from the middle of the alphabet!!).

Here are some of their thoughts...

Ray joined our Ops team in February 2021:

I was anxious that I’d be working with my colleagues distantly, but the team has made me feel very welcome and accepted. The onboarding process was excellent. Having a very detailed induction plan and seeing the team’s faces on video conferencing made the whole process feel as normal as possible... it felt like I was in the office.

Mark joined as a Mobile Developer in January 2021:

It almost felt like nothing had changed – my workspace and location stayed the same but at the same time my whole work and company had shifted which is a big life change.

Interviewing from home is a lot better than suiting up, finding out where their office is etc. It let me relax and enjoy it a bit more which brings out more of you because you aren’t as nervous or intimidated by the process... for some people interviewing can be a real anxious experience.

Josie became our Marketing Intern in January 2021:

Whilst it would have been good to see the place I work and meet my colleagues; Teams was the next best thing and made the onboarding process as smooth as it could be and enabled me to find my feet quickly.

Louise joined our Project Management team in November 2020:

Being interviewed via Teams means you do not get to read body language in the same way. You also can’t visit the office which often gives you a ‘feel’ for a company.

I was apprehensive on day one but Adactus were fully prepared, and a welcome pack arrived the week before I started. My onboarding was very well-structured, and I was brought up to speed quickly on projects. I had a ‘buddy’ assigned to me which is a great idea, and I was made to feel very welcome from the start.

I’ve been into the office twice since I joined so I still haven’t met most of the team in person yet! There are monthly Company updates and team activities to help build and reinforce our remote relationships and lots of opportunities to ask questions and get feedback.

Kate took over as Finance Manager in May 2020:

I had the opportunity to meet Scott and Becca at my interview but then lockdown happened and I started my role working remotely from home.

Team activities and monthly updates helped me to understand the company’s values and to get to know colleagues outside of their official roles. I was made to feel part of the team from the first day of joining the company.

Joel joined as a Developer in March 2021:

Starting at a company where I’d never met anyone was definitely very different. This was my first role working entirely from home and it’s strange working with people that I have not physically met; however, I felt very welcomed, and everybody was incredibly friendly.

Before I started, I was given a detailed induction plan so I knew exactly what I was going to be doing in the first couple of weeks. I would meet the team and find out what everybody does in the company, which was great because it gave me the opportunity to socialise and get to know the people I’m working with.

A firm foundation

Becca, Head of HR, believes lockdown has demonstrated the value of already having really good, established best practice HR frameworks.

I have to say I didn’t really adapt what we do. As a tech company recruiting generally tech-savvy individuals, we were lucky we could all pivot easily to being completely online. Our second interview has become a video call instead of face-to-face and we offered the choice of Teams or Zoom to do this. We paid more attention to settling in interviewees as it’s harder to see body language on a screen and to build rapport with them. We have successfully hired tech and non-technical roles during lockdown.

Our onboarding programme was already thorough to help new joiners understand the company and feel part of the team quickly, and this could be done easily online.

Our internal IT support has been key in enabling us to have systems that mean we can work well remotely. We couldn’t have done this as well if it wasn’t already up and running. We switched to posting our welcome boxes which we previously put on the joiner’s desk so, apart from remote onboarding, this is the most change we’ve had to make!

I’m proud that recruitment and onboarding are two important examples of how we’ve adapted well to meet pandemic challenges. I’m sure that we’ll continue to work happily and productively from home, but I can’t wait for the day that we can all get together and add a bit of face-to-face interaction into our great team.

Scott Muncaster
MD, Adactus

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