Remote onboarding? Here are 6 tips how to not go crazy

Ela Moscicka Software Engineer at Microsoft Prague office

I was always quite sure 2 things will never happen: working 100% remote and starting remotely as a Junior Software Engineer at Microsoft.

But then the covid came and as you can imagine everything changed – I’m working from home since mid-March and I recently moved internally and joined Microsoft Teams Prague team (read about my journey into software engineering).

I had many thoughts in my head (mostly negative) and I wasn’t sure how I will manage this 100% remote mode. Also starting new role while being away from the team isn’t super easy, but so far all is good 🙂

Below are some tips that helped me go through remote onboarding and I want to share them with you.

1. Onboarding “Buddy”

I first heard about buddies when I joined Microsoft 6 years ago and really liked the idea of having such support! You might be wondering who is that person and what exactly they’re doing?

To put it short and simple an onboarding buddy is more senior person from your team and part of his/her time will be dedicated to help you ramp up (it might take weeks or months).

Onboarding Buddy
Onboarding ‘Buddy’


Now when I’m part of new team I also have onboarding buddy – Sergii Mykhailov thanks to whom entire process is much easier. Here you can read more why every new employee needs an onboarding “buddy” .

What if your company doesn’t have buddies? Ask manager to assign someone who will be your first go-to person.


2. Meet your colleagues

Ideally manager should introduce you to the team as soon as you start your role or shortly before you join (check picture on the top of this article, this is how we welcome Engineers joining Prague office). Of course those are not the only ways;)

welcome to the team


What I did was scheduling 1:1 with every team member. Those were short 30 minutes calls where we could get to know each other better.

Topics can vary: sometimes we were talking about our background and how we got into tech (e.g. I found out that I’m not the only one who don’t have CS degree), sometimes it was related to relocation process (as I’ll be moving to Prague soon), good areas to live in Prague or tips&tricks for a junior software engineer.

I know this may sound like something very obvious, but believe me, it can help a lot not only you but also your colleagues.


3. Stay connected

When everyone are working remotely it’s important to stay in touch with your team.

You’ll be having 1:1 with your manager, daily standups and other team meetings, but how about having a virtual lunch together? Not only you get together but it’s also a good opportunity to talk about less work-related topics.

Microsoft Teams
Microsoft Teams

Another way of staying connected is to have dedicated place where you ask questions, seek advice, discuss ideas & more – I must say I’m super lucky to be a part of the team developing Microsoft Teams, as it’s application we’re using all the time (p.s. if you missed the news about new features here you will find very good summary).


4. Video on

If you were in the office, your colleagues would be able to see you, your gestures, smile, emotions, etc. By having just an audio call you’re missing many nonverbal cues, so have your video on when having team meetings.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for a help

You’re new to the team and it’s totally normal you might be a little bit lost. I was learning programming for almost 3 years, but that was nothing comparing to how many things I’m learning now.

When I first saw codebase I was afraid I won’t be able to put single dot there: not because I’m not allowed, but because amount of things happening there IS HUGE. It was, still is and will be overwhelming until I get used to it.

Luckily whenever I got stuck I know my colleagues will help me. It’s just important to let others know you need help, they can’t read your mind.


6. Communicate / Overcommunicate 

Your might have worse day, you miss your team or in-person interactions. I believe it’s important to talk about your feelings with your colleagues or manager (whatever is more comfortable for you).

When you open up about what’s bothering you others will also understand what you’re going through (some people are happy working 100% remotely, others don’t).

Possible solutions: maybe having more 1:1 meetings with your manager in the beginning will help? Or doing coffee chats/breaks on regular basis?

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Above were tips that helped me go through remote onboarding, hope you’ll find them useful!
P.S Going through that process now? Share YOUR tips by leaving a comment 🙂

Thanks for reading and have a nice day,
Ela

*article was originally published on LinkedIn (13th July 2020)
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About The Author / Ela Moscicka
About The Author / Ela Moscicka

Ela spent more than 9 years in tech recruitment (6 years as a Microsoft Talent Sourcer in the EMEA Engineering Recruitment team) where she has helped hundreds of people land jobs in the tech industry.

She went through a career change and became a Software Engineer. She’s currently based in Prague where she works at Microsoft Teams team.

Her career tips have helped people break into the tech industry, change careers, and get jobs in top tech companies!

Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram.

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