Many companies have had to make significant changes in their business practices, including the way they interview, hire and onboard new employees. Michael Page is no different. 

Some companies and hiring managers may be reluctant to go fully virtual when it comes to hiring, for many rational reasons. However, at Michael Page we know remote onboarding works – because we are using it for our new employees. 

We asked one of our newest consultant at Michael Page, Sophie Dornbach, for her thoughts about the virtual process she just went through to join her new team. 

Read on to find out what she sees as some of the advantages and disadvantages of remote onboarding. 

How was the initial process and your technical set up? 

I started my new position as consultant at Michael Page completely remotely on April 1st 2020.

For the first two days I was working from my personal computer, which was a bit challenging. This changed when I was able to go to the office on day three to pick up my company laptop and any additional items I needed to set myself up in the role. The IT department was also very responsive and supportive, so I was fully online very quickly.

Having worked as a recruiter before I could use my experience from previous jobs to orientate myself quickly in my new role at Page, but every company, culture and processes are unique. 

I had virtual training with HR about the company philosophy, pay dates, and sick leave, as well as role plays in order to practice interview techniques. My new team planned many virtual coffees which helped me understand my position and the company.

As a digital tool we use Microsoft Teams for training, interviews, virtual drinks etc. 

Overall, and keeping in mind the short preparation time that Michael Page had to prepare the virtual onboarding the company and my new colleagues did an excellent job. 

The fact that Michael Page is prepared for the online world – in practise and reality – is a competitive advantage.

How did the new virtual process affect your onboarding experience? 

I wouldn’t say that remote onboarding is easier or more difficult than the traditional in-person experience in a physical office. It is simply different. 

In the end the only thing that changes is your working environment, and for a new starter of course, to feel the vibes of the new company. Ultimately, it comes down to personal individual preference. 

Are you a person that needs personal contact with your colleagues, and an office space which is clearly separated from your home space? Or do you thrive with digital communication tools and prefer not to leave the house in order to get to work?

What is amazing for me in these special times is that we do not spend any time commuting. We have more time to concentrate on our job and the family, which feels great. 

What is it like joining a team virtually?

Prior to starting my biggest question mark was, if I will feel the team spirit and a sense of belonging to my new team, even though we have only digital contact initially. 

It’s true that out of my entire team I have only met half of them in person! However, it feels like I know them. We connect on a daily base and we have learned how to communicate online which is very helpful.

Do I feel prepared well to fill my new role? Simply put, yes. 

I have a Q&A session of one hour every day, which is extremely helpful. I feel confident enough to conduct my own interviews and start managing my own clients. I already started to take over interviews with the support of my manager in the background.

If I had to give a suggestion it would be to provide any new starter with a clear onboarding plan per week. This would facilitate personal organization and hopefully relieve some pressure you feel that you should perform. This is especially true during a probation period. 

In addition to this an end of month feedback review would be very helpful, to understand the expectations of the company versus the delivered work. Although as I said earlier, considering the short timeframe the company had to deliver this virtual onboarding, I am sure the next new colleagues will get this. 

Is remote onboarding part of the future of work?

I personally think it is a fantastic way to prove how efficient we can be working remotely. 

I can clearly see increased productivity in my work as I am not distracted by the noise of an open space, or by coffee or smoking breaks! And although of course this takes away slightly from creating bonds in the team, it is only temporary. 

One of the biggest advantages is the time I save in commuting. I can see my kids whenever they need me (or I want to) and this is very enriching. Finally, it gives us all the flexibility so many of us are asking for. 

On the other hand, given a person who has no partner or children I can see that it might be difficult to onboard and work from home as they could easily feel alone or left out.

Another potential disadvantage I experienced personally was an increased amount of work when working remotely. Your team colleagues can’t see if you are occupied. In my case for example they sent a lot of invitations to attend interviews, until I had to say stop, because it became overwhelming.

In a nutshell I think it is crucial to be very structured and organized, to weigh priorities against importance and communicate effectively. You need this “remote mindset” or you won’t be able to be successful working from home. 

If you would like to talk to a member of the team about remote recruitment or virtual onboarding do not hesitate to get in touch here

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