Remote onboarding is hard! Here's how we do it

Lachy Gray, 4 min read

Remote onboarding is hard! Here's how we do it

In a previous post, I shared our experience hiring remotely during covid and the changes we made to our hiring process to facilitate that. We were fortunate to find @daleshaw, our brand new Customer Success Manager. Hard part over, right?! Sure, except for the whole onboarding part which we know is critical to a new employees confidence, happiness and longevity in the role.

So the team got together and we talked through what an ideal remote onboarding looks like.

Two weeks out

Onboarding planning

We use an Asana project to manage all the various tasks associated with a new Yarnoer joining. We plan the first week in detail, day by day to ensure we're covering all the key areas.

Each team lead has a task to book in a meet and greet meeting, to give the new Yarnoer an intro to their team, what they do and how they'll likely work together. I do the same but from a company history, values and vision perspective. We introduce them to our Courageous Communication feedback framework and invite them to their first Morale Symposium, our Friday afternoon drinks catchup.

We also make a point of asking the new Yarnoer how they like to be onboarded. Do they prefer a small amount of guidance and then to jump into the deep end or a more structured and paced experience? We know we all learn differently, and ultimately onboarding is high stakes, condensed learning so why not make it a tailored experience from the start.

One week out

Preboarding

Diving into the deep end on your first day as a new starter can be overwhelming. Everything's new, you do lots of things for the first time and you ingest tonnes of information. What if you could be introduced to key team members, company values, vision and strategy and key processes prior to day one? Good news is, you can! We call this pre-boarding (a nod to Mark Eggers for coining this term) and we use our own product, Yarno, to achieve it.

So a week before Dale started, he ran through a Yarno pre-boarding embed campaign, that introduced the team, key products we use, our values and our vision. It's also an opportunity for the new Yarnoer to experience Yarno as a learner, to build empathy for our customers' learners, and get them thinking about how the experience can be improved (we always want to do better).

Pre-reading

During covid we decided to document how we communicate with each other - our expectations, tools we use etc, and we called it a the Yarnoer handbook. The idea being any Yarnoer can dive in and find answers to questions such as "when do I use Slack over Zoom?" or "I want to give positive feedback, what's the best tool to use?"

We also share the job scorecard, which is our version of a job description, along with our company Objectives and Key Results. All of this info lives within our Learning Library, a feature of the Yarno product.

Yarno care package

Over the past 4 and a half years we've built up a tidy bunch of Yarno merch, that we used to lay out on the new Yarnoers desk. It includes a Yarno notebook, a Yarno mug, happy socks, a signed print out of their character illustration (all Yarnoers get a custom character illustration), chocolates, a Yarno t-shirt and a Yarno hoodie. Along with the usual suspects such as laptop, keyboard and mouse. We hope the merch helps the new Yarnoer feel welcome and part of the crew from day one. The merch is a Mark Eggers passion project, and something he's invested in from the beginning.

The Yarno Welcome Merch-Package

Laying out merch on a table is all well and good, except when the new Yarnoer is remote. So for the first time, we packaged up everything and sent it to Dale. Which if I'm honest doesn't have the same effect as in person, because you can't see the critical unboxing!

First week

We spoke a lot about what day one could look like for Dale. We were concerned that experiencing day one remotely wouldn't have the same effect as an in-person onboarding. So the Customer team decided to meet with Dale for his first few days, to make him feel welcome, build rapport and (most importantly) check that he's wearing all his Yarno merch. Dale mentioned to me that he highly valued this in-person time, since he'd never remotely onboarded either and wasn't sure what it would be like.

Dale met with Eliza and Joel from the Customer Success team and had his first Team WIP on Zoom with the rest of the team. The team then took him out to lunch.

Throughout his first week, Dale shadowed Yarnoers to various meetings to build his understanding of who's who and how we work. And he defined one, two and three-month success measures with his team lead, to put some goalposts in place and to give both he and us points of reference to return to.

I always ask new Yarnoers for their feedback on the onboarding process, what worked, what didn't, what would they do differently next time. And for feedback on how we do things. There are plenty of things that seem part of the furniture to use that to a new Yarnoer make no sense! They're the things I want to hear about since that fresh and unbiased perspective is super valuable and only lasts a short time.

First three months

To help embed and refresh key knowledge and understanding, Dale will complete a few more embed campaigns in Yarno, this time with the rest of the team. It's a great way to promote some friendly rivalry and to put ourselves in our customers and learners shoes.

Wrap up

If you're interested to hear Dale's perspective, he and I recently recorded a quick video of him chatting about his onboarding experience (watch below).

We're constantly evolving how we onboard new Yarnoers since we believe we can always do better. To that end, if you think there's something we could be doing please let me know!


Lachy Gray

Lachy's our Managing Director. He's our resident rationalist and ideas man. He also reads way too many books for our liking.

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