We were very excited to welcome two new additions to the Rostrum team this month, Katie Watson, Digital Executive and Sophia Todd, Account Executive.

Under normal circumstances, a new joiner at Rostrum could expect their first week to include a welcome lunch, training sessions on our processes and platforms, account introductions, coffee catch-ups with their assigned Rostrum ‘buddy’, and agency wide welcome drinks.

We know that joining a new company can be a daunting prospect, so we work hard to make all of our new starters feel welcome, whilst ensuring they have the tools, resources and training they need to be able to succeed.

This month, however, we had the added challenge of achieving these goals whilst working remotely.

Here, Katie shares her experience of being ‘virtually onboarded’ and provides some top tips on how to make the process a success.

1. Be sympathetic to the employee’s situation

Starting a new job often creates mixed emotions. Whilst I was excited for this new opportunity, I was also unsure what to expect. Knowing I was going to be working from home and meeting everyone through a screen was certainly a strange thought.

The lack of face-to-face interaction with my new team added to my initial nerves, but with good communication and a planned schedule of contact, those nerves quickly eased.

2. Keep them informed

I was grateful for all the communication I received from Rostrum – starting from when I was first offered the job, right up until my first day and beyond! The team were fantastic at responding to all my questions, often with lightning speed, and kept me informed about the plans for my first week. Having details of who I would be working with and what I would be doing definitely made me feel more comfortable on my first morning.

3. Connect any new team members with each other

A few days after I started at Rostrum, a new Account Executive also joined the team. Rostrum put us in touch with each other so that we could compare notes, and I found it was helpful to be able to talk to someone in the same situation as me.

4. Make it as easy as possible for new joiners to meet the rest of the team

For many people, working from home can be a lonely experience and meeting people can be difficult. But when I started at Rostrum, everyone at the agency already knew me from the company’s weekly newsletter. This meant that I received some lovely welcome emails on my first day.

The company also made sure that all my training sessions were scheduled with different people, so that I could meet as many of my colleagues as possible in my first few days. I was also provided with a ‘buddy’ to answer any questions and to help me to settle in.

5. Have the camera on for meetings

Turning on your camera can definitely make a chat with a new colleague feel more natural. In a recent Raconteur article, Sir Cary Cooper, professor of organisational psychology and health at Manchester Business School, wrote about the benefits of using laptop cameras in this way. “We’re getting to know our colleagues better,” he said. “We know more about their outside roles and what’s happening personally.”

From my experience, this is true and switching my camera on has helped me get to know the team much better. However, whilst he has been a great ice-breaker, I’m not too sure whether my dog, Marley, would agree with me!

6. Zoom Fatigue is real, so spread out meetings if possible

While having meetings with the camera on can help you get to know people, it’s important to remember that there can be too much of a good thing. Staring at a screen for hours of back to back meetings is not ideal for anyone, let alone someone in the first week of their job. Thankfully, this wasn’t an issue for me personally, but I know that people at other companies are not always so lucky.

7. Check what the company expects from those working from home

During my first couple of days at Rostrum, I tried to work like a robot, rarely leaving my desk and minimising breaks away from the screen. However, as soon as a team member reminded me that ‘you are allowed to go get a cup of tea’, I realised that working from home did not mean sitting in the same chair constantly from 9-5:30.

I really appreciated all the advice I was given, including moving to different rooms, making sure I get fresh air and standing up often. Learning to work from home is a skill in itself and any good onboarding will include advice on how to do it well.

Overall, I had a positive experience joining the Rostrum team. Whilst I was nervous about working from home at the start, the planning and effort that went into my virtual onboarding made it much easier to adjust.