How to make remote onboarding work

How do you start a new role when you’ve never even seen the office? And how do you handle WFH if this is your first job? We investigate how studios and agencies have managed the onboarding process during lockdown, and what it could mean for the future of remote work

Starting a new job can be anxiety-inducing at the best of times, but add a pandemic and lockdown to that, and the difficulties multiply. For many new starters the last few months have meant joining a company whose office they’ve never seen, and getting to know their colleagues via the medium of a screen.

“The biggest challenge at the start was asking those small questions that are easy and quick if you’re sitting next to someone – like how the server works, where to find fonts or specific files,” says Emily Ryder, who joined DesignStudio as a designer in the midst of lockdown. “I always felt like there were people I could ask, but before I knew them well, I was conscious not to disturb them too much, especially when everyone’s busy. It just takes a bit more guesswork and time to figure those smaller things out for yourself.”

Not only is this her first job in the creative industry, but it’s Ryder’s first experience of working from home, and she says she’s definitely missed the social side and creativity of being in a studio environment. As she points out, it’s hard to replicate the kind of everyday office conversations that spark ideas, or the lunchtime chats that help you settle in somewhere new, when everyone’s trapped in their own homes.

I miss being able to walk the floor every day and ask people, ‘What are you working on? How are you feeling?’ I miss the work being around you

Even those with more experience have found the experience strange. Laura Jordan Bambach recently joined Grey as chief creative officer, and says it’s been weird working somewhere without meeting anyone face-to-face, or even knowing where people sit in the office. “I was thinking today I have no idea how tall people are or any of that,” she told CR. “I’m certainly missing some of the things I would usually do coming in as a CCO in an agency. I miss being able to walk the floor every day and ask people, ‘What are you working on? How are you feeling?’ I miss the work being around you.”

JUNIOR GRAPHIC DESIGNER

Milton Keynes