There’s no I(solation) in team: onboarding new colleagues during COVID-19

COVID-19 has been a big challenge for businesses. For many, the lost revenue has meant they’ve had to let staff go, or at least furlough them until further notice. At Fidel, we’re in the (very fortunate) position of having the opposite challenge. So far, we’ve had four new people join our team during the lockdown, and in the next week have another five coming aboard.

Fidel hasn’t slowed down on hiring. We’ve been working hard to hit our targets, whether we do it in-person or not. But it’s a dramatically different employment landscape, so talking to candidates has been an interesting experience. Some are reluctant to change jobs, as it’s so hard to predict how much longer the crisis will last and what the real consequences will be. Others have sensed the insecurity in their current roles and are looking for a plan B. Even more have already lost their jobs and are now actively looking for new ones.

We’ve got a lot of open roles and are keen to help as many of those people as we can. Finding the best way to do that has been a challenge – a positive one, but a challenge nonetheless. Here’s how we’ve been handling it.

Hiring remotely

Our hiring processes differ slightly across departments but typically, there are between four and five stages, half of them on-site.

Now, all the interview stages are remote. It’s not a problem in terms of tools: we already have a few team members in different locations (Dubai, Slovenia, Croatia, Australia, and Scotland, to name a few), so we're well-practiced at working remotely. But remote interviews naturally lack the human connection that’s so important to the hiring process. As a company, we want to ensure every candidate experience is excellent, so we’ve been looking for ways to achieve that without slowing down the process or decreasing its scope.

One way we’ve been doing that is by directly addressing certain topics –  like the economic situation of the company, our remote practices, and our values – in interviews. Whether we’re in the office or working from home, our values never change. We’ve been making sure we communicate them to candidates throughout the interview process so they can get a feel for who we really are.

That’s also why we’re writing these blogs. Solo online hiring is very different from "normal" hiring: there are no events or meetups we can attend to raise our brand awareness. Instead, we’ve taken our Employer Branding initiatives online. Talking about our Talent agenda on our blog is our way of showing our community who we are and how we work as a company.

Onboarding remotely

Better communication has been key to our remote hiring processes and it’s just as important for onboarding, too. We’ve had to adapt to some new communication methods to make sure that goes smoothly.

Fidel is known for a very friendly office culture that welcomes new starters warmly, and a lot of knowledge transfer happens that way. But one downside to an office-oriented culture is that sometimes documentation is neglected, as employees learn through conversation with the people around them.

When you're onboarding remotely, that process needs to be different.  You want your new starters to be autonomous, and to have access to all the materials that will set them up for success. You don't want them to miss out on anything just because they didn’t have the chance to chat and take notes. We’ve turned that challenge into an opportunity and made sure that whatever wasn't documented is now written up or filmed and shared with the whole team. It’s actually helped us improve the overall onboarding process.

We’d also usually have a welcome kit and a desk space waiting for new joiners. It’s harder to create that new working space remotely, but it’s not impossible. We’ve been bringing Fidel to our new joiners’ homes instead, by sending laptops, equipment, and swag to their doors. Sometimes, small details like wearing a Fidel shirt can help boost motivation and morale.

Spreading team spirit

Even more important than resources is the team itself. With us all now working from home, things can feel lonely. At Fidel, we want to make sure that the team still spends quality time together, so we’ve started doing Happy Hours. The Happy Hours are informal moments where team members can jump on a call, bring a drink of their choice, and socialise. Being far apart doesn't have to mean we can't hang out, and working from home shouldn't mean work from 9 am to 6 pm non-stop. Nobody does it that way in the office! We’ve been encouraging our new starters to join the Happy Hours so they can start building their own connections with other team members.

We’re all living in very challenging times, but they can also be a great opportunity for improvement. It’s still a work in progress, but being more conscious of the projects that need attention helps us find new ways to tackle them.

Keep your eyes peeled for more Talent updates over the coming months – and check out our careers page if you’re like to learn more about joining our team.