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Remote onboarding, the Jostler way
Illustration by Shiwei Li

6 min read

Remote onboarding, the Jostler way

Any first day is stressful. Starting a new job remotely in the middle of a pandemic proves even more so.

Hi! I’m Faye, Jostle’s Content Marketing Strategist. I’m also the latest addition to the company (one month in!).

As a new employee, I always have butterflies in my stomach when stepping into a brand new office environment. What’s to come is pretty straight-forward, right? Getting set up with equipment, meeting new people for the first time, and exploring lunch options around the neighbourhood.

Except...this time it looks a little different. Here’s a recap of my experience, things to look out for, and actionable tips for your onboarding.

“Arriving” at Jostle: The first day

Onboarding during a pandemic meant that I started learning the ropes from my home. Call it a first kind of first day?  

I had a swift and awesome remote candidate experience during Jostle’s hiring process and knew my values aligned with our company’s, so “going” (aka logging on) to my first day of work was a giddy kind of excitement. When I received a greeting e-card from the Jostlers, I was blown away by the warm welcome.

 welcome card

What made it more personable was finding videos for me through my private discussion chat with every member of the Marketing team. Although we each own different scopes of work, it made me feel like I could feel comfortable to (virtually) tap them on the shoulder and bounce ideas off them.

After my first kick off call with Dustin, my manager, he introduced me to the orientation journey, assigned through Tasks. The agenda for the day (and rest of the week) mainly revolved around looking through documents, setting up the tech, and getting familiar with our intranet’s navigation. It’s super convenient that our team alpha tests and uses our own product on a daily basis, and I quickly appreciated how easy our platform makes it to collaborate and communicate with one another.

Getting my feet on the ground

After all the security, tools, and accounts were sorted, my main focus shifted to absorbing knowledge like a sponge. It helps that we have a clear checklist for the complete onboarding process, so that kept me accountable on top of my actual job duties and meetings.

The rest of the week looked like this:

Admin and learning: Going through numerous files to learn Jostle's code of conduct, employee policy, and workplace safety documents. There was a quiz at the end (not stressful at all…) to test that you’ve actually understood the important stuff.

Orientation meetings: As part of learning about the wider organizational structure at Jostle, I met with a rep from every department, from DevOps to Finance to Customer Success. It was an intentional exercise to capture the essence of walking around the office and familiarizing myself with new faces. I had a lovely chat with Brad, our CEO, about the history and vision of the company, and the origin story of our company was a great personal touch. I even jumped on several sales demo calls with real-life prospects.

Introduction exercise: To introduce myself to Jostlers, I was tasked to write my “new employee” article on Jostle News, which really helped me gain hands-on experience using the platform.

Communication touchpoints and collaboration

It’s easy to get lost in cyberspace and the many online tools at work when you’re just sitting alone at home without someone to guide you. On top of that, at Jostle we practice flex times. With me being an anomaly out of a team of early birds, initially I felt shy to ask questions after 3 in the afternoon.

Fortunately, I met up with my manager in the morning every day for the first two weeks, on top of our weekly team meetings. The regular touchpoints meant that I got access to task support and the opportunity to clarify things when I needed some background knowledge on a project.

I also found it stimulating to jump on many fresh initiatives with the team, allowing myself to collaborate with others at the same "starting point". Within my first week at Jostle, I summarized our inaugural Conversation at Work session, and introduced myself to our list of blog subscribers. It also helped that my predecessor was kind enough to leave me a document on best practices and things to look out for!

Take initiative and ask for what you want

Normally when I start a new venture, I like to observe how people behave at work and blend with existing cultural norms and best practices. But because of the remote nature and the team being divided by a lot of screens and distance, there simply wasn’t much room to “warm up”. This is made even more difficult when you know this remote arrangement is indefinite, so I had to show my authentic personality from the beginning.

In my books, onboarding really sets the tone for employee experience and is certainly a two-way street. Yes, I can leave it up to Jostle to engage me as a new employee, but if I had a say in MY journey, why not contribute and make it better?

Here are some of the things I asked for and spearheaded:

Team 1:1s: I arranged a private chat with every immediate team member as we couldn’t physically chat in-person. With only email and discussions at my disposal, I started booking one-on-one video calls with teammates to get to know them better. I asked them questions like:

  • “What’s your story, personally and professionally?”
  • “What are your goals and how can I help you?”
  • “What do you like to do outside of work?”

Align on expectations early: My manager often asked, “Do you need anything else from me?”, so I took advantage of it. On Day 2, I requested for a 30-60-90 day plan to align on expectations and goals. What I appreciated most was the intentional room for collaboration from the beginning. On top of providing focus areas, concrete learning, and performance goals, he left room for me to define my own personal goals. At the two week mark, I reached out for a quick litmus test to gauge whether I’m getting up to speed and working towards the right direction.

Visit the Plex: Naturally, I was curious about Jostle's office environment. I visited our JostlePlex recently to check out our Marketing pod and my designated space to get a feel for what the normal in-office experience might feel like.

Lead a team bonding exercise: Originally part of my quarterly goal, I threw out the idea of a quick social game on a Friday afternoon. I chose a “guess the drawing” game, Skribbl, as it offers tons of laughter and allows us to be creative without pressure.   

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Support our co-op: I’m passionate about mentorship and paying it forward. So when I found out that it was our co-op Jaden’s first experience in the working world (and that she was also onboarded remotely), I encouraged her to initiate a project of her own. I made sure to let her know she can reach out if she needed guidance throughout.

Overcommunicate: As much as I’m hyper aware that the back-and-forths might come off as annoying, I try to ask plenty of questions. Frankly, there’s just no room for confusion, so I stand by asking all the stupid ones, and repeating them for clarity.

Engage in company happenings

Luckily for me, there’s been lots of company-wide initiatives going on to keep my work days interesting, to say the least.

All-hands: I participated in Jostlefest during my first week, where we shared the upcoming product features, and joined our Design team’s tea-and-share initiative. Every Tuesday, there’s a townhall “Heads Up”, where we find out what’s in the works for every department.

Join Employee Resource Groups and interest groups: I was also invited and delighted to be an active member of “Ladies of Jostle” and our “MMA fans” discussion group— we actually do discuss the drama during fight nights!

Shout-Outs: Recognition feels good at all times, but especially so when you’re in a foreign setting where it's hard to know how you’re doing. The regular use of our Shout-Out feature on our Jostle platform certainly delivers a boost of dopamine to my day.

Shoutout jostle

Wellness: As someone who genuinely cares about company culture, it’s so important to know that your leaders are listening. That’s why Jostle’s occasional employee surveys are a great way to express your concerns, suggest improvements, and just let management know how you’re doing. I’m also super excited for our upcoming wellness week—it feels amazing to know that your organization acknowledges mental health and well-being.

Conclusion

All that being said, starting a new job definitely isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. There’s been a steep learning curve already, like changes to our newsletter, a new discussion series, and a bunch of exciting revamps coming our way. I’ve definitely felt instances where I wanted to swivel my chair and ask a teammate about a flowchart, or ponder when I can actually go on coffee runs and meet in the flesh.

I couldn’t be more fortunate to enjoy such a pleasant onboarding experience at Jostle, and it feels awesome to work with and be welcomed by a group of people who authentically cares about people at work.

I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be open-minded, vocal and flexible as a new employee. Don’t forget that YOU have a say too!

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Faye Wai

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