Onboarding during lockdown: How it feels to join a company remotely

Posted by Alexandra Staniland

Monday 23rd March 2020, our whole way of life changed here in the UK. Lockdown officially began. Which meant everyone that could, started working from home. We went from jumping on the train or riding a bicycle into the office every morning to adjusting to our makeshift home office.

It became the most surreal experience very quickly with the weeks flying by, I’ve actually lost count of how many weeks it has now been. We quickly adapted to our “new normal” across the business but especially in engineering. During this time, we’ve been able to experiment and grow our teams in a number of ways, like working in a full remote team, see our team step up to the challenges and adapting to how we onboarded any new staff that were due to start during the lockdown.

Everything became virtual — how to set up your laptop, introduction to the company and meeting your team. However the biggest challenge and thoughts were “how will it feel to join a company remotely and how do we make them feel comfortable?”.

Home office

To shed some light on how it has been onboarding with us during this weird and crazy time, we caught up with one of our newest engineers, George.

First of all, tell us a little bit about yourself…

I work in the Platform Engineering team, looking after the infrastructure and services that allow the other engineering teams to build and run great products. We get to work with lots of cool technology, which I really enjoy. Outside of work, I love climbing and am very much looking forward to climbing gyms reopening after lockdown!

You started your new role with us during the most unusual time and one you’ll definitely never forget I’m sure! How did you find starting a new job being totally remote?

It was actually nowhere near as difficult as I expected it to be. The logistics were pretty seamless - my laptop arrived on the morning of my first day and the IT team helped me get everything setup quickly. Of course it’s a little strange not meeting people in person, but it quickly felt normal. I think it helps that the 100% remote working situation is relatively new to everyone.

How did you think the team did in welcoming you remotely?

They were great - my manager set me up with a buddy, so I had someone to ask all those little questions you have when you start a new job, and also got the rest of the team to schedule 1-to-1s with me so that I got to meet everyone individually.

Were there any challenges you faced when joining?

I would say it’s definitely a bit harder to get up-to-speed with things when you can’t shadow people like you would in the office. I think that just means you have to be a bit more proactive about asking questions and finding things out yourself.

How will you continually build relationships whilst working remotely?

We have three or four team meetings a week which are a good way of getting to know what other people are working on, and pairing up to work on something is another good way.

How will you feel being able to go into the office for the first time being part of the team?

I think it’s going to feel a little strange at first - meeting people without their Zoom backgrounds might take a while to get used to! But I’m looking forward to it, although perhaps not having to commute again!

What is the biggest thing you’ve learnt during this time?

Apart from all the technical things I’ve learnt, I think it’s probably the same as everyone else - how to work remotely 100% of the time. It takes some getting used to.

And that was George’s experience joining our team. With his feedback and the one from many others who will be joining us, we will continue improving and streamlining our remote onboarding processes. Aiming at making joining the Funding Circle Engineering team the easiest and most welcoming experience possible, despite the odd circumstances.

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