A first-hand account of the remote onboarding experience

Starting a new role during lockdown - how Hannah experienced her first days at JustPark.

Getting to know JustPark is all about getting to know it’s people. After all, it’s not just the destination that’s important, it’s who you make the journey with. That’s why we’ve launched a new interview series to hear from members of our team and get first-hand accounts of life at JustPark.

To kick us off, we spent some time with Claudia Crossley, the newest member of the JustPark People team. Claudia started as the People Coordinator shortly before lockdown and, along with the rest of the JustPark team, has been working remotely ever since.

With firsthand experience of remote onboarding and as the person who’ll be coordinating the process for future new joiners, Claudia offers a unique perspective on the process of onboarding new employees remotely.

What does onboarding as a process mean to you?

Onboarding starts the moment you receive an offer and the process covers everything that’s required to get someone through to the end of their probation. That covers everything from paperwork at the start to making sure they’re fully trained, and should include learning areas of the business. It’s also important to include feedback on what I’m doing well, where I need help and areas I can improve on.

You accepted the role at JustPark in February, but by the time you were due to start a month later a lot had changed. Tell us about that experience.

I was a bit apprehensive about whether I’d still be able to start, but my line manager Lewis [Tasker, COO] got in touch to explain all the changes at JustPark and what that meant for my role. He explained I’d need to get involved in areas outside of HR initially, but I saw that as a positive as I’d get to learn about all the different areas of the business.

I expected to be working from home as a lot of friends were doing the same already, but I got to spend a few hours in the office on my first day and Lewis put the time in to explain everything to me so everything was well communicated and it went smoothly.

What was your first day like?

I started on 23 March, so it wasn’t until later that day that the lockdown was officially announced. It was great to get that time in the office as all of my equipment was ready, all the systems and tools worked straight away and I got trained on everything. It was important to get that set up right, as I would be connecting with everyone through Slack, Zoom, and Gmail rather than in person.

Has your onboarding experience been different to what you expected?

Even remotely, it’s been exactly what I expected it to be. I wanted to join JustPark because of the incredible culture, and everyone lives and breathes the values.

With Mental Health Awareness Week, it highlighted our Be Human value with some great events and support across the business. And people definitely cultivate their communities – no one has said no to something I’ve asked for help with. Everyone wants you to do well and celebrate your successes.

What have been some of the challenges to onboarding remotely?

It’s mostly the little things – when you’re sitting next to someone you can ask a quick question. When you’re messaging it makes it more like you’re bothering them.

It’s also been hard to build relationships. People still see me as someone new because they haven’t met me. So I’ve been using the camera in all of my Zoom meetings so people get used to seeing me and I get to know them.

HR is about developing personal relationships. How have you approached that?

I’ve just been connecting with people and going for it. I drop into the daily coffee mornings and ask a lot of questions, and now I’ve started hosting those too. The People team have been great about making sure they introduce me, especially in the beginning when I was meeting people for the first time.

Now you’ve settled into the role, has it met your expectations?

I’m doing everything the job description said. It’s a broad role and I like to be exposed to lots of different things – we’re all one team and we understand what everyone is working on.

Working in sprints is something I’ve done before. It’s good to structure the work and make sure we meet deadlines, and we challenge each other on delivery.

The office management side is different to what I expected. I’ve never worked with contracts with 3rd party suppliers before so I’m learning something new.

So what does a normal day look like for you now?

We have a team stand up at 8:30 every morning, so I log on 15 minutes beforehand to sort out my calendar. I’ve taken over the HR admin and I’ve also been working on meaty project tasks. That might be a project proposal, identifying improvements, process mapping. I then end the day with some reflection – 3 things that I’ve learnt or have gone well.

I also have weekly 121s with my manager. I’ve been able to talk everything through with Lewis and he’s made himself available whenever I needed some time.

I’ve also been upskilling my ping pong ready for when we come back to the office. I’m playing every night, and I’m getting quite good!

What’s been your favourite JustPark experience so far?

I think it has to be the scavenger hunt that we did for one of our fortnightly games nights. Walking past my dad carrying a giant wall clock from the kitchen took a lot of explaining though!

The other thing has been how well we train everyone at JustPark – I’ve not struggled as it’s all so well explained. People make the time to go through everything.

What are you most looking forward to once you’re able to start back in the office?

I’m looking forward to meeting everyone in person! So far I’ve met people in smaller groups, so I’m also interested to see the culture when the teams are all together. Some of the ceremonies will be different in person, too, like singing happy birthday on our celebration call every Thursday.

What do you think are the main things companies who are onboarding employees remotely should be aware of?

The importance of introductions. Some people might not be confident to just say hi and get involved. Announce the new member of the team and if you’re in a meeting, make sure you acknowledge the new person so you’re not sitting there awkwardly behind a computer screen.

It’s also important to have regular check ins, like our daily team stand up or my weekly 121s. Even just on simple things like are they comfortable with the systems they’re using, do they have their work space set up in the best way.

And for people joining a new company?

Don’t be shy. Be open to getting involved in all the activities, it’s the best way to learn who people are and what they do. You’ll see the more relaxed side of people when not working.

And ask for help when you need it. It’s easy to sit for ages without asking if you’re working remotely. You need to be open to learning new things and asking a lot of questions.

Is there anything you want to add?

Just that It’s been a positive experience, despite the remote onboarding. People keep asking how I’m doing but actually it’s been really good, which is a reflection of the type of company JustPark is.

We’d love to hear about your experience of remote onboarding.

What kind of initiatives have you launched to welcome new members to the team? Or have you recently started a new role and found the remote onboarding challenging. We’d love to hear about how other companies are navigating these challenging times, to share ideas and continually improve the way we work.

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