Your first day at a new company can be daunting at the best of times. When your first day takes place in the middle of a global pandemic, via video conferencing, from your home, it’s a whole other challenge. Four of our new team members here at COMPASS Pathways have done exactly this, and with gusto. Here they share their top tips on joining a new company virtually …
Director of Preclinical Research, COMPASS Pathways
Director of Statistics, COMPASS Pathways
Chief Financial Officer, COMPASS Pathways
Team Administrator, COMPASS Pathways
Welcome to the team! How have you found joining a new company virtually?
Gary: When I found out that I would be starting my new job from home, I thought it would be a very uncomfortable experience, so far it has been pretty straightforward. It helps that COMPASS is already a master of the Zoom meeting and external research environment, so a lot of our time is dedicated to thinking and doing things virtually already.
Sunil: It has been pretty smooth. Fellow co-workers have been reaching out via email or Slack to see how I’ve been settling in which is a nice substitute for people coming up to me or bumping into me in the office and having a chat – the new norm for now. Also there is lots of organised social interaction, which means I don’t feel isolated.
Piers: It’s been great to see the thought that has been put into a holistic approach. Meeting new functional colleagues is the easy part, but COMPASS has worked hard to generate a mix of social and other company-wide interactions to help meet colleagues across the business.
Mark: It has been a rather unique yet positive experience. I feel grateful that I have been able to join a new company during such a time of uncertainty. The onboarding process has been really smooth and seamless, the tools that have been provided by COMPASS have definitely allowed me to be as productive as possible given the work from home situation.
What can companies do to help their new team members settle in virtually?
Gary: COMPASS is doing it well already. One example is increasing the opportunities to have random encounters with people on Zoom to stand in for the “watercooler conversation” moments. Also, being aware of people’s interpersonal styles and making sure that introverts get a chance to speak in what can be challenging online environments for them …
Sunil: Ensure that new workers have all essential tools (laptop, etc) set up and ready to go. COMPASS has a range of virtual social meetings, for example there is a virtual tea break, a pub quiz (which I still need to attend!) and exercise-related meetings like yoga and plank sessions to choose from. This is a great way for new team members to not only settle in better, but get more interaction with co-workers.
Piers: Keep it varied for teams. Working from home can sometimes make it challenging to maintain energy levels. Having a mix of activities and interactions, using a range of tools, helps to build engagement in different ways and keeps things fresh.
Mark: Ensure the onboarding process is as seamless as possible. Take full advantage of the technology out there, and ensure your company has a wide set of applications that would typically cover the day to day operations at work. Create virtual check-ins for new starters and a fun work environment by implementing social activities such as virtual pub quizzes and brief coffee breakout video calls, as isolation can become quite lonely at times.
What advice would you give to someone about to start a new job virtually?
Gary: Take as much time as you can to reach beyond your immediate network of colleagues to get to know more about the broader company community. Learn all the company virtual communication culture as quickly as you can! Try to keep the same routine you would have in the office, and make sure you actually take breaks! It seems so much easier to just keep sitting at your desk and not moving all day long if you’re not careful ….
Sunil: Take part in as many social-related activities as possible – this is a great way to find out more and get better acquainted with your co-workers. For example I enjoy our ‘2 minute plank’ sessions and virtual tea meetings – getting a chance to interact with people I won’t necessarily work with on a day-to-day basis. Ensure you set up your workstation correctly: get an additional monitor if needed, or raise your laptop to avoid neck and eye pain/strain, use an external keyboard and mouse, have a comfortable chair, etc. And have a good wi-fi connection!
Piers: Make sure you understand your natural style; compensate for getting fewer cues from colleagues, compared to being in a physical office, with your own check-backs. Keep engaging in as much as you can.
Mark: Have a strong sense of initiative, drive and great communications skills. Manage your set tasks effectively and strive to generate your own additional workload, as a work from home environment creates a varied pace. Don’t be afraid to reach out to colleagues when help is needed. Take into account how comfortable your home office set up is, try and ensure your work station meets the expectations of a typical office set up and remember that posture is really important! With that being said, be prepared to make temporary compromises, for example I’ve had to give up most of my clothing rail to make space for my work desk!