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The Remote Employee: Detailing the First Week of Virtual Work (Part 2)

14 April, 2020
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Social distancing and working remotely have contributed to a major shift in our lives, and the impact continues to be noticed in many different areas. In our first installment of The Remote Employee series, we talked about the steps Dynamic took to prepare for onboarding Trevor, our new team member, in the age of virtual working, as the world adapts to the effects of COVID-19. In this second article, we will explore how his first week of virtual work turned out, including challenges, lessons learned and best practices we’ve realized.

 

Week 1 Agenda

HR Meeting 

HR MeetingOn Monday morning, Dynamic’s human resources department held a virtual meeting with Trevor – via Microsoft Teams – to welcome him aboard, discuss typical first-day tasks and help him acclimate to the company. The items addressed during the meeting included:

  • Completing necessary onboarding paperwork, including verification of identification for the I-9
  • Sharing an organizational chart so Trevor could put faces to names within the company, and also showing him where to view employee photos and profiles in Microsoft Office 365
  • Setting up a welcome meeting with the executives
  • Scheduling individual team meetings across the company, so Trevor could learn more about each business group

 

Company-wide “Huddle”

HuddleDuring our traditional work week in the office, pre-pandemic, we scheduled a team huddle for every Monday at 10:00 a.m. So, in our work-from-home lives, we maintained the same meeting schedule – albeit remotely – to use as a weekly kickoff and discuss specific topics:

  • Icebreaker questions to engage the team
  • Sales, production and employee updates
  • Introduction of Trevor and other new employees

 

Virtual Tour

Virtual TourThe Dynamic tour is what we typically offer new hires at our company, with one of our employees walking around the office with the new employee, introducing them to each member of the company and showing them the different areas in the building – but remote work has made this challenging. However, we do have select technical services team members designated to work in-office, as we serve critical infrastructure customers, so they have been able to continue to make the “tour” happen.

  • In lieu of a traditional in-person, in-office tour, Trevor’s manager leveraged mobile technology by using his smartphone to walk around and show Trevor the office through video streaming – providing him with a virtual tour.

 

Individual Team Meetings

Team MeetingsThroughout the week, Trevor participated in multiple Teams meetings with everyone in the company, based on business units. He had the opportunity to introduce himself and meet his new colleagues, learning about their specific job functions as well as other useful information about Dynamic. Trevor met with:

  • Sales, marketing, client services, technical services, logistics, purchasing, quality, finance, human resources and the executive team

 

Specific Job-related Tasks

Job-related TasksIn addition to typical HR onboarding tasks, Trevor’s manager provided him with job-specific tasks he could begin to work on during his first week:

  • Hybrid Role Introduction

    • One unique aspect of Trevor’s role at Dynamic is that he is working with both technical services and client services. Trevor and his manager met with the client services team to discuss how to best utilize Trevor’s time and what would be a suitable mechanism for his input in the client services role. They agreed that by using Dynamic’s existing service desk system, Trevor would be responsible for responding to client-facing requests entered by client services team members.
  • Technology Overview

    • Trevor was given a tutorial and run-through of SAP, the enterprise resource planning (ERP) software Dynamic uses for business applications
    • As part of Trevor’s role in responding to service desk requests, his manager trained him on the system Dynamic uses, Spiceworks, which allows team members to request support for technology issues. Trevor immersed himself in this and was able to respond to several tickets in his first week itself.
  • Research for Upcoming Projects

    • One of the projects in the pipeline for Dynamic in 2020 pertains to an ongoing infrastructure project related to CMMC certification, a new cybersecurity regulation. Trevor was introduced to this project, and his manager explained his individual role in the context of the project. Specific tasks included researching concepts, products, services and training, using Dynamic’s Lynda.com subscription to study and self-train. Trevor and his manager stayed in alignment by using Microsoft Planner to track assigned tasks and report back on progress. 
    • Trevor also conducted research on using the tool Yammer as an employee resource and additional avenue for staying in touch and up to date on projects, company news, brainstorms, testing sessions and more. 

 

Daily Check-in Meetings

Check-in MeetingsThroughout Trevor’s first week, one important constant that his manager maintained was holding daily check-ins through Teams – staying in regular communication and helping Trevor feel comfortable during his period of remote work.

  • At the beginning of the day, the meetings would be used as a check-in to align on the daily agenda and tasks.
  • At the end of the day, the meetings would be used as a recap to align on the work completed, progress and next steps.

 

In Conclusion…

Trevor’s first week as a new, remote employee went well, and one of the most significant pieces of information we gleaned from this scenario is that regular communication is absolutely critical to success. Bringing a new team member on board through a completely virtual process – without the “normal” in-person interactions – is a challenge, but we have found video conferencing and regular check-ins to be an essential tool that made the transition seamless. Mobile devices proved to be an important tool as well, in helping to establish connections and provide employee flexibility to stay in contact while tending to daily life during this pandemic.

In addition, ensuring new, remote employees are engaged – the same way they would be in a typical office environment – is another point of interest that can pose a challenge. However, we addressed this effectively by planning out the most significant projects for Trevor to work on remotely, setting expectations, progress milestones and due dates.

Providing not only Trevor but any new, remote employee, with independent work to tackle right away – whether a small project or research activity – is essential in integrating them into the company and helping them to understand their presence on the team and individual expertise is valued.

Company-wide video meetings have also been another “win” we have seen in terms of engaging employees working remotely and strengthening the element of human connection on our team.  

Stay tuned for our third and final installment of The Remote Employee series, where we will wrap up our journey about onboarding a new employee in this age of social distancing and virtual work by interviewing Trevor himself and learning, firsthand, about his experience.

Rachel Zachar

Rachel Zachar is the Content Manager at Dynamic Computer Corporation. She holds a degree in professional writing and rhetoric from Oakland University. Her background includes writing, researching and developing digital content for automotive and technology companies.

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