A virtual welcome to Celfocus
July 29, 20203 min read

A virtual welcome to Celfocus

Arriving mid-way through the pandemic.

Written by Margarida Afonso

Our daily life has become something different from what we used to call normal – it is a new normal, as we hear all over the news. The pandemic has impacted and changed every aspect of our lives, and joining a new company is no different.

I joined Celfocus on May 18th, mid-way through the pandemic and in the fully remote working scenario imposed by the COVID-19. I had in the past joined an international company having done all the interview process remotely so that part was not new for me; however, joining Celfocus during the pandemic was the first time that the actual work was done fully remote from day 1.

How is this more challenging than the “normal” onboarding?

Joining a new company is like becoming a new member of a family – it is as much about getting to know the structure, processes and history as it is about understanding the people and the formal and informal relationships between them. This all tends to happen naturally when we are face-to-face together (almost) every weekday. In this scenario, however, it is not as easy – I would not say it is not possible, but it requires being more intention to make it happen.

After being with Celfocus for about 2 months, this is how my remote onboarding and working experience have been, and what I have learned so far:

  • Fully Remote Onboarding
  • Connecting with my team
  • Intentionally taking care of my well-being during work hours

Fully Remote Onboarding

Since Celfocus has offices in multiple locations, part of the onboarding meetings would have had been remote anyway. With the pandemic all of them were remote. I found the Plugin – training sessions quite useful to get an overview about all the different areas of the company as well as key points of contact in each area.

Having a 100% remote onboarding can be a little heavier than doing it face-to-face, because of the number of hours staring at the screen. However, in my personal experience with this onboarding, for most of the days, there was a maximum of 3 or 4 onboarding sessions, so I found it to be quite manageable.

If anything, I may have asked for help on simple stuff (accesses, what internal systems to use when, how to access specific content, etc.) a little more than I otherwise would have, had we been in a normal scenario. So, thanks everyone for your patience and support!

As part of the onboarding, I’ve participated in several training sessions. The face-to-face sessions would have been longer.  However, the onboarding team has adopted the sessions fit to the remote context. For example, sessions were broken into smaller time slots (e.g. 2 hours) which I believe was a good idea to avoid getting the learners too tired with long sessions and online hands-on group exercises were added which made the sessions more interesting and dynamic.

Connecting with my team

I believe that true connection happens face to face. Yet, there’s a long way we can go in starting to build connections when face to face is not possible.

Here are a couple of things I’ve done to get to know my team while all of us are working remotely:

  • Held one-to-one meetings with each person in the team so we could (start to) get to know each other;
  • Organised an outside gathering (more to come!) in an outdoor space – Oporto city park – so that we could get together safely in an informal setting.

Onboarding during a pandemic, in full remote work, means being more intentional about creating connections with our colleagues and about taking care of our well-being. It also requires our colleagues to be more patient with us newcomers. It is challenging, but it is possible, and it can be as rewarding as the “old normal” onboarding used to be.