Remote Onboarding in Light of COVID-19

Discover how M13 is welcoming new hires who are starting out as remote workers.
By Marie Sokolovsky, Rita Serrano

Last Updated: January 28, 2021

Published: April 19, 2020

M13's talent & onboarding team: Rosemary Belden, Marie Sokolovsky, Rita Serrano, and Arbo Shah/M13

M13 will occasionally share what we’re overhearing on our Slack channels as our team unpacks relevant news and happenings. This piece features a conversation between Marie Sokolovksy and Rita Serrano, who act as integral support for our talent team and lead our new employee onboarding processes.

Rita Serrano, 3:18PM

Hey Marie, I saw you were copied on that email about two new hires (NHs) coming onboard next week! If you have time right now, can we strategize how we’re going to approach remote onboarding, given that we’re now WFH until further notice?

Marie Sokolovsky  3:39 PM

oh hey guuuuurl 🙋

Great idea thanks for bringing it up. Yeah, let’s think about some ways that we can change our regular onboarding process to make it just as impactful but in our new remote reality. To kick things off, I’ll reach out to welcome the NHs directly from my email (rather than the system-generated note from Sapling). Starting off with this more personalized approach will help position us as a resource from the start.

Rita Serrano  3:43 PM

Yeah, we can definitely be just as impactful! Let’s switch up a few things to make sure we add that personal touch to the overall experience. In that first email, let’s also mention setting up a quick video call to introduce ourselves, gather info we need from them (like identification for the I-9 requirement, laptop info/preference, etc.) and also give them a heads up that they’ll soon be receiving a registration email from Sapling to officially kick off their onboarding.

Marie Sokolovsky  3:48 PM

Agreed. Getting on a call with them ahead of their first day will definitely help put names to faces and help them feel comfortable, especially during this time. We can also share how we’re staying connected and engaged as a team during COVID-19 and what this means for their onboarding.

Rita Serrano  3:57 PM

YES! We can also get a feel for their comfort level with our internal tech stack like G-Suite, Zoom, Slack … especially since we’ll be remote. And if needed, we can coordinate a separate time to familiarize the NHs with the platforms so that they can hit the ground running on Day One.

Marie Sokolovsky  3:58 PM

Great point! Another thing that would have a big impact on the NH is scheduling 1:1 intro meetings for them with each person in the organization. We typically do those for their immediate team and partners but this extra step would make the NH feel more connected to the org, even though they will all take place over video conferencing (and possibly in PJs?!). Plus, we're still small enough (soon to be 28!) so this is still a relatively easy thing to do. As Kween of the Kalendars, I volunteer myself to take on the scheduling 😃

Rita Serrano  3:59 PM

Great idea! This way, when we’re all able to return to the office, the NHs will already be familiar with everyone. I love that! So how much time are you thinking for each intro? 45 min to 1 hr with their direct team & maybe 15 to 30 min with everyone else?

Marie Sokolovsky  4:01 PM

I think even 15-30 minutes would be fine for some, but I will leave that up to the hiring managers. Per our SOP, we'll still meet with the hiring manager ahead of the start dates to confirm who the priority intros are, expected duration for each meeting, broader meetings to invite the NH to, inboxes to give them access to, relevant Slack channels, and other relevant platforms (Affinity, Notion, Pitchbook, etc).

Rita Serrano  4:12 PM

Good call. What about swag boxes? How should we go about gifting them with M13 merch?

Marie Sokolovsky  4:21 PM

Arbo is allllll over it 😃 He sets up workstations really nicely with branded swag, office supplies, and a nice handwritten welcome note, so he is planning to ship it to our NHs directly so they don’t miss out!

Rita Serrano  4:28 PM

PERFECT! Should we also consider adding some extra WFH supplies to the swag boxes, like a mouse, keyboard … or maybe even an Amazon gift card so they can shop for their own supplies online? I think that would be exciting! I mean … who doesn’t LOVE an Amazon gift card?!

Marie Sokolovsky  4:29 PM

That’s an awesome idea, and I’m sure that would be really appreciated especially since none of us were prepared, or could foresee, having to work from home like this…

Rita Serrano  4:31 PM

Exactly! Let’s talk budget with the team to see how much we can allocate for gift cards.

Marie Sokolovsky  4:33 PM

Sounds great. 😃 I’ll also add a few new slides into the NH Orientation deck that we present on the morning of Day One so that we touch on all the WFH/COVID-impacted areas. And we can make sure to check in on the NH regularly so we know they're doing okay and feeling supported and engaged!

Rita Serrano  4:36 PM

Sounds like a good start, Marie. We can make changes as we see fit or as we receive feedback. I’ll send you a calendar invite to edit the current process in Sapling so we’re good to go on Monday. Cool?

Marie Sokolovsky  4:39 PM

Perfecto!! thanks gf #BRIGHTERTOGETHER 🚀🎉🚀