Onboarding during corona pandemic

Currently, many employees are working from home because of the corona virus. Nevertheless, new colleagues starting into their jobs have to be trained. In our interview we will talk about how Silikal deals with this challenge.

Many companies face major challenges in the onboarding process, which is even more complicated in the current crisis. Since end of March, most Silikal employees are working from home. In the departments where it is not possible to do so, work is done in separate shifts to keep the risk of infection low.

Today, we speak to our new colleague Clara Driess. She joined our team as a Digital Marketing Manager on April 1st, 2020 – at the peak of the corona crisis in Germany. We are interested in how she experienced the onboarding process and what was important to her.

What were the basic requirements?

“First of all, I have to say that it gave me a sense of security, that I was assured by Silikal that I could start on April 1st as scheduled. Many companies were in a financial imbalance at this point and could not hire new employees or had to send their employees into drastic short-time work. Right from the start, I didn’t have to worry about my job.

I was informed about the alternative onboarding process already weeks before I started work. As soon as it became clear that the corona crisis was becoming a more serious problem, measures were taken immediately and I was involved in many decisions. I was able to decide which laptop with which technical requirements I need for my work at home, for example. I also got equipped with a mobile phone with all the important telephone numbers, so that I could directly contact my new colleagues and they could reach me any time. Furthermore, I got a VPN access to use the company network. With this equipment I was covered for my new work.”

Which assistive technology is indispensable?

“We spoke a lot via video conferencing. There is a much better understanding of the company and the work of colleagues when you can see each other at the meeting and not just hear the voice. A large part of the instructions into the programs were done via video conferences, too. We used Webex*, because you can also share the screen view. In this way, you can perfectly convey complex processes and programs.

In addition, we work with Slack* to exchange image files and also short messages. This is very welcome, because in order to be integrated into a company, you also have to warm up with your colleagues, which is rather difficult from home office.”

*Ad/mentioning of the brand name

What kind of support did you get from your colleagues?

“Right from the start I had an experienced co-worker with a lot of knowledge by my side. We talked on the phone every day or held video calls to update each other about the to-dos, exchange know how, ask questions and speak through further training points. We either have fixed appointments or simply talk to each other spontaneously. If I ever needed help, I could always reach someone at a very short notice and never had to wait a long time to get a solution when a problem popped up. So I was able to avoid idling due to information gaps.”

How did you get feedback on your work and your development?

“Not only I spoke to my co-worker, but also to my direct supervisor via video chat many days in the week. We discussed tasks and goals for the next weeks. My supervisor also had the opportunity to give me feedback on my work on a regular basis and of course I also had the opportunity to request feedback if necessary. My supervisor also used the conversations to get feedback on their previous approaches or projects. The feedback from new employees often brings new perspectives on existing processes and can be very helpful.

I was given a lot of trust from my supervisor, which always motivated me and gave me the necessary space to organize myself at home in such a way that I can work in a targeted manner and become an integrated part of the company as soon as possible.”

Do you have any suggestions for improvement or tips for other onboardees?

“Actually, I have no suggestions for improvement. The process went very well. I can only recommend every new employee to contact the new company early and to discuss important basic requirements during the Corona crisis. The most important part is the technical equipment and the support of your colleagues.. As a new employee, you are of course also required to co-create the process by yourself and request feedback or help, if you should find out that something is missing. There is no point in waiting.

Over the past few weeks, many employers have been able to find out how well onboarding processes and home office in general can be implemented, and will certainly bring this to perfection in the future. Working from home will doubtless take a larger part of our work in the future. I am very excited about the further developments and wish all onboardees a good start in their new companies.”