Onboarding At A Hybrid Agency
Some call them “jitters,” others “butterflies.” I’m sure you know what I mean—they’re the nerves that often accompany you on the first day of a new job. Of course, starting the next phase of your career is an exciting time but, as with most change, the unknown can pose some apprehension.
Thankfully, most companies have established extensive onboarding programs to help ease the transition for new employees. That was, though, until we were all abruptly introduced to a new work style—hybrid. Over the past two years (can you believe it?!), our team at EPIC has worked tirelessly to adapt our processes to the hybrid structure so employees can still work effectively while experiencing the EPIC “Work Hard. Have Fun.” culture. From Friday Google Meet happy hours and monthly team lunches to hybrid meetings and brainstorm sessions, we’ve seamlessly reshaped our work styles so our teams can work from the office, their homes, coffee shops, airports—truly anywhere.
But, as an employee who joined the EPIC team prior to our transition to a hybrid structure, I hadn’t realized how important making those enhancements was to our onboarding process. That was until I met with a few of our new team members and learned just how impactful their onboarding experiences were when joining our hybrid agency.
Here’s the gist of what I learned is most important when it comes to hybrid onboarding:
A warm welcome
Have you ever walked into your new office at 7:30am on your first day only to find the front desk empty and no people in sight? I have. It’s an unnerving feeling—almost as if you’ve trespassed into someone else’s home without ringing the doorbell.
Our employee experience team must know about that feeling too, because they make sure to pull out all the stops for every new employee. Lindsey, our HR manager, greets each new employee at the front desk with a custom basket of goodies, including some killer EPIC swag.
The greeting was fantastic. Lindsey had a massive gift basket of cheeses, EPIC swag, and my new computer. And each person I met with was cordial, on time, and welcoming. It truly felt different because I knew they cared about my experience. — Al Nennig, Account Manager
Albeit not as busy with coworkers walking through the halls and laughing amongst their desks, the office feels much warmer when you’re greeted by a familiar face, which allowed each of the new employees to feel welcome and comfortable in their new office.
Technology is (still) king
If there’s one thing we can probably all agree on, it’s that now, more than ever, access to the appropriate technology is vital for professional success. That’s why, with their new EPIC Yeti full of piping hot coffee from Ralph Macchiato (our in-office “barista”), each new employee meets with someone from our IT team to talk through their technology needs.
In addition to their Macbook, new employees receive a full tour—not just of the EPIC office, but also of EPIC’s tech resources, including our project management software, learning management system (LMS), Slack channels, digital employee directory (with headshots!), and custom EPIC menu and self-service app. From in-office workspaces to their own monitor, keyboard, mouse, and other equipment, our tech team is sure to provide each employee with the resources they need to succeed—whether they’re physically in the office or working from their home, a coffee shop, or local library. (If people still do that?)
I was super impressed with how prepared the tech department was. Meeting with people who are really well-versed in technology was a great feeling. Everything was already downloaded on my computer, including the EPIC Menu and Self-Service app, so I already had resources for any hybrid issues that may occur. — Ashley Statz, Social Media Coordinator
A slow burn, not thrown into the fire
Have you ever met every single person at your new company within the span of just a few hours? Again, I have. And—coming from someone who can’t remember names to save her life—it was overwhelming (and I didn’t remember anyone’s name). I’m sure that’s also what people say who are introduced to only their manager before being thrown into a busy schedule of kickoff meetings, client calls, and brainstorming sessions. That’s why one of the most important aspects of our onboarding process is that it spans over more than just one, two or three days.
Over the course of several weeks, our four partners and key team members meet one-on-one with a new employee—both in person and remotely. These meetings offer a dedicated time for the new hire to meet our different teams, learn what they do, and develop a solid understanding of how they will collaborate with each person and department.
This has proven to be especially impactful in the hybrid environment where getting to know your new coworkers isn’t as easy as stopping them at the coffee machine or bubbler for a quick chat. And, since we all know cold-calling someone on Slack is a BIG no-no, it feels a little too contrived to schedule a one-on-one meeting with someone you’ve never met before.
Thankfully, these meetings are all pre-scheduled by our onboarding team and are spread out over time, softening the blow of meeting an entirely new crew and offering some down-time for researching clients, reviewing our team’s past work, and digging through the EPIC LMS before diving in head-first. After all, they say Rome wasn’t built in a day—and neither is a happy, acclimated team member.
It is challenging still because I am a people person and thrive on in-person interaction; however, EPIC takes every measure necessary to make communication as open and accessible as possible. — Al Nennig
It all comes down to the people
EPIC operates under a strict “no asshole” policy. We don’t hire them, we don’t work with them, we don’t encourage them. This means every person who walks through our doors and logs on to our Slack workspace can feel confident that their work is valued and appreciated.
Lines of communication are kept open (with the exception of always-respected focus time) and teams place a strong emphasis on flexibility—the flexibility to speak one’s mind, set your own schedule, and focus on what’s important for you to be successful.
The EPIC team is truly a bunch of pros at working in a hybrid environment. I don’t feel like things fall through the cracks; I can easily get in touch with someone if I need something; everyone is super responsive. — Taylor Schroeder, Digital Strategy Manager
Whether we’re in-person or remote, we work together. We hold each other up, encourage collaboration, learn from mistakes, and celebrate our team wins. Because, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where you are. It matters who you’re surrounded by. And at EPIC, that’s a group of scrappy, honest and, most importantly, kind people.
Interested in your own hybrid onboarding experience at EPIC? Check out our current job openings or apply for a future opening!