Employee Onboarding During a Pandemic

In the last week of February 2020, Jaden Salh signed an offer to join East Side Games (ESG) as our IT Support Technician. Little did we know, only two weeks later our entire team would be working remotely due to COVID-19. This posed many questions, one of which was: What happens with our new hire? Many companies were, and still are, continually reevaluating their needs during these tough times, and we needed to do the same.

The original workload for this position remained unchanged so we decided to move ahead as planned. We reached out to Jaden to loop him in on the current work-from-home situation at ESG, and let him know we were excited to onboard him virtually. Moving our onboarding process online was a quick pivot, but being open and honest with our new hire about this meant he was part of the process as we figured things out together.

Day one for Jaden included calls with HR, his manager, his team, and the most awkward lunch a new starter could have hoped for! Taking a new team member out for lunch on day one is something we love doing here at ESG, so moving this to a virtual lunch seemed like a natural substitution. As it turns out, it’s become the subject of many team jokes to this day, two months later. Jaden described the lunch as “the most awkward meal I’ve ever had”, complete with crisp audio to capture and exaggerate eating noises and minimal conversation between mouthfuls. Needless to say, our number one virtual onboarding lesson was learned!

Over the next month, Jaden ramped up quickly, taking over the day-to-day IT operations. Instead of sitting side by side as we would in the office, Jaden and his manager had numerous virtual calls and ongoing slack conversations throughout the day. Jaden’s daily responsibilities were clarified early on and his manager laid out short and long term goals so Jaden could focus on the right work independently. Having direction, trust, and autonomy early on allowed Jaden to fulfill two of our core values — Moving Forward, and Taking Ownership — by failing fast, learning, adapting, and growing.

Jaden’s team did a great job at welcoming him and making him feel like part of the team from day one. Joining their virtual “start of day” and “end of day” calls meant they had the chance to sync up and understand what everyone was working on, discuss any blockers, but most importantly, shoot the shit and get to know each other! Outside of his immediate team, other ESGers from different disciplines and teams across the organization reached out to welcome Jaden to ESG via email, Slack messages, and friendly introductions when sending IT requests. With the lack of organic water-cooler chat, it was great to hear Jaden experience ESG’s inclusive culture first-hand from those who made the extra effort to say hello and make him feel welcome.

It’s easy to feel isolated when working from home, especially when you are new to a company and haven’t met your team face to face. Despite working remotely, ESG maintained regular parts of company life such as all hands meetings, Friday Beers, bi-weekly company workouts, lunch-and-learns, and free game cards to purchase games and play together. Additional things such as “frågestund” (open question-time to ask the founders anything), coffee chats, lunch chats, beer deliveries, and support groups have been added into this virtual culture at ESG to encourage human interaction and communication. It’s great to hear that Jaden had a successful onboarding experience with ESG, and was welcomed into the family and set up for success. It’s always good to look back and evaluate what works and what doesn’t, refining the process for future new ESGers.

Get in touch with us at @EastSideGames or hello@eastsidegames.com.

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