My experience with fully-remote onboarding

Given the global nature of Amazee, it was immediately obvious that onboarding in a fully remote fashion wasn’t something new to the company. When I joined Amazee Labs in early March, my hardware had already been delivered and I was ready to get settled in. The original intention was to work from home for four days before flying to Spain to meet up with the team leader, Fran, and another new starter (Rodrigo), where we would continue our onboarding and eventually meet up with the rest of our team.

This did not happen. Due to COVID-19 and many countries going into lockdown, these activities had to be postponed.

When Rodrigo joined about a week later, he was informed that a remote-only onboarding was going to take place. We, of course, had been looking forward to meeting the team IRL but given global circumstances, we understood the necessity of remote onboarding and were prepared to make the most out of it. 

Once we knew that onboarding was going to be 100% remote, initially I was disappointed that there would be no trip to a warmer location. Even though remote onboarding might not be the usual way things that happen, Amazee Labs was very used to having people work remotely and I wasn’t worried.

Together we would embark on the onboarding process fully remotely, spending hours in Zoom calls, being shown how things work, from naming conventions in git to getting all of the software we would need to install. Then we made our way through the many tasks: from simple things such as logging our new email and accepting the various software invites to reading various documentation and getting onboarded for our first projects.

For both of us, our disappointment and doubts quickly dissipated once we realized that Amazee has many activities that allow meeting everyone from a distance, like Social standups via Zoom, remote coffees arranged via Slack, and having general introductions with key members of HR and other teams. 

The social standups each morning are a great way to wake up. Everyone joins a Zoom call and a question is asked, then we go around hearing everyone's answers. Questions can range from something funny such as: “If you could show Mozart a modern song to blow his mind what song would you show him?” (My answer:  Willow Smith - Whip My Hair) Sometimes the questions are more thought-provoking, such as: “If you had to delete all but 3 apps from your smartphone, which ones would you keep?”

Remote coffees via Slack get you talking with people that you might not normally meet during your workday. This can sometimes feel a little awkward at first - especially when they are randomly assigned - but after a few minutes talking becomes easy. Our coffee pairings match us throughout the Amazee Group, so far it happens that I have mostly had talks with people from amazee.io, a team that I would not usually have a chance to get to know without these tools!

Getting setup to start working was very straightforward with virtualized development environments; simply pull down a project, run a few commands, wait a bit and you are good to go. There was some variation to set up certain projects, which is not uncommon with development, which could have been more quickly solved with a physical, in-person onboarding, but that didn’t stop us. When facing a problem we had a process: first, we would check through project documentation in case we missed something. The next step would be to search for the issue. Searching for the issue in Slack lets us see if someone else has had this problem and if a solution has already been posted. Lastly, if we still had an issue we would post a quick message in Slack, where lots of people are always ready to help.

The most overwhelming part of onboarding is always the amount of documentation you need to read through and then learning the hierarchy of who to talk to about what. We believed that we could help improve this, as new members of the company we were empowered to help organise and prioritise, making a clear distinction between what is a must-read and what can be kept as reference material or given as a brief overview. Even while onboarding, we were already contributing to the company which felt great. 

Remote onboarding required a lot of the day-to-day communication, generally occurring through messaging and sometimes one on one Zoom calls — Amazees are always happy to jump quickly into a video call to help. This is a tool that should not be underestimated, as it is often a more effective way of resolving issues, asking questions, and getting clarification. 

Amazee Labs is definitely a video-on company and it generates a feeling that even when you are isolated from your nearest neighbour, you are surrounded by Amazees and their support. 

Although social events and team gatherings have been paused for the moment, we feel like we’ve gotten to know our team and the entire Amazee family quickly, even from a distance. Now we’re even more excited for our next IRL reunion where we can share and celebrate our many accomplishments and pending toasts. 

If you want to be part of this experience, remember that we have open positions. 
Check them out - totally recommended!

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