Here at Fund Recs we have hired multiple new colleagues since the start of the Covid19 Pandemic. All of these have been working fully remote since Day 1. Below we go through some of the challenges faced in that process and how we overcame them. We also have a Q&A with the new starters on how they found the process.
Firstly, the main challenges we faced were.
1. How do we ensure the new starter has access to everything they need?
2. How do we train them up on our processes remotely?
3. How can we welcome them to the team and ensure they have the support they need?
4. How do we manage the workload of a new starter while working remotely?
In terms of access, we are in a great position at Fund Recs as we are fully cloud based. We were recently ISO27001 certified and through this process we have documented all access that users need for each position and as a result this process was seamless. By having everything cloud based it removes a lot of access issues and setup takes minutes across all systems.
We felt training was going to be the hardest part of the process. Our new colleagues were all coming from Fund Administration firms and would have been used to very different daily tasks and daily routines. They were all moving away from these daily deliverable environments and into more project-based work.
On top of that, we feel training done in person is 10 times more effective than when done online. People are much more attentive when face to face and will take much more from any training session. To overcome this, all training that we provided we tried to keep quite short rather than hours and hours of calls each day. The ops team put a plan in place ahead of Day 1 of the process so that the training would be very focused on the areas we felt would be very new.
At Fund Recs we use Office365 and conducted all the training over Teams. This along with Slack, that we use for internal communications, allowed us to have constant contact with the new starters. These tools provided the platform to get the users up and running initially and there has been gradual training across all modules / clients / processes since. We also record each training session that we do so that any new users have a library of different videos for clients / modules.
In terms of welcoming them to the team, this is something we were very conscious of for a few reasons.
1. This pandemic has thrown the world into chaos and nobody knows what anybody else is going through or how they are coping with everything so ensuring they had a happy working environment is very important for us.
2. At Fund Recs, we are a small team and ensuring everybody is happy in their role really helps the team function.
3. We want all team members to be happy in their working environment as this has a positive impact on everyone around them.
How we went about achieving this was to stay in contact with new starters as much as possible to ensure they had everything they needed to do the job. We offer flexible working hours as everybody’s needs are different, especially during these uncertain times.
To unwind after the week, we have had multiple happy hours so that everyone can get to know each other a bit more. We have had these companywide and just within teams. These have worked as a great way to introduce the new starters to the team in various locations / teams.
In terms of workload for everyone, this was not something we were focused on too much at the start as we were aware it would take time for everyone to find their feet. More recently we have managed this on our daily / weekly catch up calls. As a result of not sitting across a desk from colleagues anymore, we have found the catch up calls vital but have also been aware that filling up calendars with meetings is not the answer so for this it still is and will continue to be a balancing act.
We asked our new hires a few questions about their remote onboarding process to give an insight to how the process worked from their view. Welcoming Fearghus Mahon, Aoife Storey and Jessica O’Connor.
Fearghus: My largest concern about starting my position remotely was centred around training, how it would work when the traditional “pull up a chair” and observe method could not be followed. Thankfully, the company’s experience with working from home, being entirely cloud based, and a well organised training plan meant that I had nothing to be concerned about.
Aoife: My greatest concern about starting my new role remotely was getting to know the team and training on a brand-new system. As from my previous experience of training in an office environment, with your team close by for any questions (big or small!). I wanted to ensure I asked as many questions as possible and to get to know the team at the same time. The team had a well-structured training plan which made my first two weeks a smooth process.
Jessica: Initially, my biggest worry was the unknown, obviously this is a first for everybody involved, that if there were issues at the beginning that it would have a knock on negative effect on my progress within the company. There is a lot to consider when starting in a new company from training to meeting and gelling with the team.
Fearghus: It was made clear to me well in advance of my start date that I would be remotely onboarded. Being a new process to me entirely, this did of course come with some uncertainty. I was lucky enough to have interviewed in person before the Pandemic forced lockdown measures and knew that the culture of the company I was walking in to supported flexibility and were familiar with remote working. The team communicated with me clearly and regularly to ensure that I was happy with my start date given the situation and made sure that I would have everything I needed to start comfortably.
Aoife: As I was told from the beginning that I would be onboarded remotely and be taking on a work-from-home status during this time, I was unsure how it would all settle into place. But from the outset, I was able to adjust my work and home life to suit the new norm of working from home. As everyone on the team was adjusting at the same time, it made it a learning experience and easier over all.
Jessica: Not particularly I was very excited about the opportunity and Fund Recs had ensured to keep in contact with me in the weeks prior to starting the role which was definitely reassuring and was something I would not have expected especially if I was starting in more normal times.
Fearghus: The toughest part of starting a new job remotely was acclimatising myself to a routine where I don’t have a commute to break up my day. As I’m studying on top of work, I spend the majority of my time looking at the screen on my desk. I learned early on in lockdown that getting some form of exercise in was a crucial marker for the end of my working day and the start of the rest of the day.
Aoife: The hardest part of starting a new role remotely was adjusting to the work from home lifestyle. As it was new for everyone since early in the year to be permanently at home for the foreseeable (or until it is safe to work from the office!), it was a complete adjustment to learn to work from home and not an office environment. The new norm did not involve your morning walk to work and coffee, the little things that may not have been appreciated at the time!
Jessica: In general it is different, certain parts are tougher than it would be starting in the office, even just from the point of view of what people would be used to, including myself. That being said, overall I think it balances out. Good communication is definitely extremely important.
Fearghus: The social aspect. I thought not being in the office would potentially eliminate a lot of the informal communication that keeps the atmosphere and morale of an office environment up. I was very pleasantly surprised at the social level that was facilitated by face-to-face training over video calls, an array of messaging platforms and frequent happy hours / quizzes organised at a team and company level.
Aoife: The social side of the company. On my very first week, the team had organised a team quiz on the Friday which was a great opportunity for me to meet most people in the company. It is something I was surprised about as the chats and laughs in the office would have been missed out on being from home, but the team are very inclusive and encourage a bi-weekly happy hour for everyone to catch up on non-work related items!
Jessica: How smoothly the transition and training went, I was definitely allowing for more issues and hiccups to arise as I was aware this is a strange and unprecedented situation for all involved.
Fearghus: As I simultaneously moved to a new apartment as I was onboarded remotely, it took me a week or two to get the mix of study, exercise, work, and social/downtime right for what I wanted. If I could start over, I would have set myself up with what I found to work best for me from the offset.
Aoife: I would take the opportunity to change my office space when I first started the new role. I am in a house of five people and did not organise my office space to best suit me on a daily basis. As there are many distractions, I would of moved to a quieter area in the house.. faster!
Jessica: I genuinely don’t think it could have gone much smoother, I’m sure there are things that could have been done different and may be done differently going forward but when you take into consideration that this was a first for all involved I think it went extremely well and nothing immediately comes to mind which is always a good sign!
Fearghus: Certainty. Aside from being around ambitious people working towards a goal that you believe in, given everything that has happened globally since November 2019 it is a relief to have employment within a flexible company that has the capacity to offer remote working without disruption to service and that have a clear career path for new starters.
Aoife: The Change and challenge. The change to a new role, new learning and new people has been a blessing during the uncertain times. As well as the opportunity to move to a company that has the flexibility to take on new hires remotely with a clear structure of the years ahead. It is a great challenge and wonderful distraction to have a focus during this time.
Jessica: I think the positive experience of it, realistically, at least hopefully, it won’t be a situation people will be in again, especially as working from home is becoming more accessible and normal. I am really looking forward to meeting everybody soon!
Fund Recs develops cloud reconciliation software for the funds industry. We'll be sharing our experiences and thoughts on our blog as we build our company.