Have you ever had to start a new job remotely? I have, and this has led me to share my very first post here about my virtual on-boarding experience. You might have come across many articles on how to onboard remote team members, but this time I would like you to see it from an employee’s perspective.
This is me, Deniz. I have spent almost 10 years in my professional life as a business analyst, a scrum master and an agile coach in very different industries such as Telecom, Information Technology Consulting or Fintech. In recent years, I saw the sports-betting, digital entertainment and online gaming sector as one of the fastest-growing and exciting areas all over the world, so I wanted to witness this by being part of Tipico, a passionate team that provides an amazing digital experience for their customers by coming up with cutting-edge, smart solutions. This is where I have decided to take the next step in my career as a Scrum Master.
Each time I started a new job, I went through an in-person smooth and anticipated transition period. I started at Tipico at the beginning of May, the crazy days associated with the virus had started, but unwittingly, we were also becoming more familiar with our 'new normal'. After 1 month I still haven’t had the chance to meet my new colleagues due to the outbreak of Coronavirus. On the other hand, I think we have already made good progress together in many aspects; because we had to tackle this strange situation and adapt ourselves to that somehow.
In my first days, I was thinking it would be very challenging for me to settle, in particular when it comes to my role in the team, which is very team-oriented and requires deep observation, strong relationships and understanding the team dynamics. Under this unusual circumstance, it seemed to be harder than before. My new chapter started with communicating with my manager 5 days before my start where I was informed about my first day. When I went to the office, I saw my (future) desk with a lovely welcome kit prepared by our office manager. As soon as I came back home and logged into the company's communication tool, my manager warmly welcomed me through a video call and she walked me through the on-boarding process, introduced me to the teams I will be working with and paired me with a buddy who has been a great mentor for me since then. I now recall that my first impression was very positive on that day.
Interestingly, onboarding a new employee remotely was completely new for the company too. Without a plan in place, the first day (and next days) might have felt lonely and confusing, this was not the case for me, their plan replaced uncertainty with preparation. During the first week, I had short daily sync-up meetings with my mentor and two managers that were very helpful for me to find the answers to my questions immediately. There has also been a relevant 'Scrum Master on-boarding checklist' provided by the 'Scrum Masters Chapter' that was very detailed with the necessary information on all the tribes, teams, processes, roles, resources, tools, boards, reports, best practices and the development lifecycle that I would need to know. It turned out to be like a quick reference guide to me. The first couple of days were mostly orientation- to get to know the company's ethos, team structure and the way we work, with the help of HR and my teammates. At the same time, I was encouraged to participate in the meetings and scrum events to start observing the teams. I am glad to say that I had a busy start full of meetings and lots of information; because this allowed me to get immersed in the team and to feel a part of it in such a short time.
When it comes to my experience at Tipico, today I can say that it has been smoother than expected so far. Now I'm interacting with many distributed teams across the globe, using online tools. From the beginning, my colleagues were very welcoming, caring, transparent, willing to share their know-how and eager to help in any way. Even if we only met online, this friendly environment and positive attitude made me worry less day by day about my remote onboarding experience. We always keep our cameras on in our meetings to compensate for the lack of in-person collaboration and sometimes have online coffee breaks to chit chat about our daily routines. We are still working remotely, however considering the current loosening restrictions in Germany, we are planning an outdoor team gathering in the sun. The great assistance provided by the people showed me one more time, the best thing about all this, is being one team.
To wrap things up, we have all been going through difficult days, to some extent we're experimenting with these new conditions as teams or individuals. You can always research to stay up to date and take advantage of the best remote agile practices that have been tried and shared. Change is the only constant in our job and even lives, but we as humans are adaptable. Just be comfortable in finding yourself outside your comfort zone, shape your environment, unleash your inner creativity to help cope, and please stay safe and healthy!