Alex Winston accepted a job offer at Propeller in early 2020 not knowing how much the world was about to change. Below are his top four recommendations to keep in mind when onboarding during the pandemic, based on his experience over the last six months.
Commit to People
I accepted the job offer from Propeller in February 2020, pre-pandemic, when moving across the country for a job was still routine. But in the middle of my 2,000 mile road trip, the pandemic shut everything down, and suddenly my pre-pandemic worries – should I live in the city? will my significant other find work easily? what kind of projects will I work on? – seemed silly. My biggest concern quickly became, “Will I even have a job?”
I hadn’t hit my “official” start date with Propeller, but they reassured me their employment offer was still good. The fact that Propeller stood behind their initial commitment despite the onset of a global pandemic reinforced the culture that I’ve now witnessed firsthand. Understand what you can do, make promises you can keep, work to keep them, and trust your people to do the same.
For more on the importance of trust in the workplace, check out Trust is the New Competitive Advantage.
Use Your Tech
At first, remote onboarding wasn’t very different; I set up my computer, completed onboarding documents, logged into my email, and was ready to go. Easy. But I was missing something from the experience - how do you ask questions, meet people, attend events, and learn the office culture from a distance? Before I could think through my digital assimilation strategy, Propeller had the solution. The onboarding team set me up with virtual coffee chats, a curated list of Slack channels, and an in-depth list of trainings and events.
Propeller uses tools like Slack, Trello, SharePoint, and Zoom to host working sessions and e-coffees, run virtual workshops and trainings, and otherwise keep people connected and collaborative. The more we all use them, the better off we all are -- company-wide adoption increases effectiveness. These tools will strengthen relationships when you can’t meet in person, enable remote teams, and encourage you to celebrate milestones (even if it’s on a video chat).
If you’re struggling to help your employees collaborate from afar, take a look at Enabling Team Collaboration in a Remote World.
Within the course of a month I moved from Texas to Portland, and back to Texas again—and Propeller supported me the whole way. My performance manager set aside time to regularly clarify and set expectations for the short and long term—a simple ask in normal times, but during the pandemic we continually touch base on COVID-19, my relocation plans, client needs, and the safety of ourselves and the business.
In times of uncertainty, focus on what you can do; how you can adapt and play the cards you are dealt. The pandemic has given us an opportunity to practice these skills, try new things, and pivot further as we identify what works and what doesn’t.
Need some more help to make your business and your team more adaptable? Check out Propeller's Next Normal Webinar series.
Check In Often
As I was juggling move details, travel plans, and the pandemic, I was also participating in client interviews and getting up to speed on project details. With so much going on, I’m appreciative for the continuous contact and support from my manager – I’m asked what I feel comfortable doing, how I’m coping, and if I need additional support.
Quarantine is impacting people in different ways, and the only way to know how your employees are doing is to ask them. Have a candid conversation and address the anxiety, loneliness, stress, and confusion that comes with uncertainty and change. Cater to needs, support with constant feedback, be transparent, provide clarity where possible, and share stories in a constructive way.
Want more ideas for maintaining emotional wellbeing during the pandemic? Our recording of Propel Her’s Emotional Wellbeing in the Next Normal panel has plenty of tips you can incorporate into your life.
By the time you read this, I’ll be back in Portland. I am incredibly grateful for the privilege of a flexible employer, the ability to work from home, and a safe home from which to work. We aren’t out of the pandemic and the future isn’t guaranteed, but I’ve had the best possible outcome given the difficult circumstances.