Few years back I was lucky to join one terrific company in St Petersburg. On the first day I arrived at 11 and went straight to HR department. I spent an hour or so there, got a small tour around the office and then I was delivered to my working desk. My team was partially distributed. During the day I talked to my remote colleagues and had a lunch with the colleagues in the local office. It was a great day and everyone was very helpful. Yet I felt confused at the end of it when I found myself at my desk. I got an access to huge amount of information: documents, wikis, Skype channels, customers surveys, competitors notes and many new people to meet and talk to. I needed to go through it all and deliver some results in a couple of weeks. Next two weeks I spent long hours working in the office and from home trying to catch up with everything. It was both fun, boring and exhausting at the same time.
During my interview with the folks from Vincit I was amazed when they said,
“After new employees sign a contract, they get a full access to our internal channels”
“Wait! Do you mean they get a full access even if they are not working yet?”
“Yes. They may start working in a couple of weeks or months but they are already Vincitizens. They are very welcome to participate in all discussions, get to know people, visit internal parties and be part of the community.”
What a nice concept, right?
When you get an access to all communication channels upfront, you get an ability to talk to your future colleagues, create some connections, find about the interests of others. And you won’t feel lost on a completely unchartered territory on your first day.
Vincit goes a bit further. When you sign a contract you get an access to a Trello board which is a part of your onboarding process. It has a separate column with suggestions what you can do before you actually start working.
Other great companies also use the same trick. For example, Reaktor and Netlight. Johanna from Netlight perfectly describes why they are doing it:
“Of course we can be a bit overwhelming that way. Every night it’s like ‘Come to this. Come to that’ and you’re like ‘Okay I haven’t left my old job yet. I am coming to you soon. Leave me alone.’
But that’s our way of doing it so the first day when you’re at Netlight you feel like you’re already in the company. You already know people, you probably know what assignment you’re going out to, you know the client, you know sales management and everything so you’re already apart of the company and have a network at your first day because that happened in different stages all before”
Looking back I realise that this practice could help me a lot in the previous company I worked at.
Let your new employees to join internal events and take part in all conversations before they even start working. It decreases their fear, increases confidence, shortens an integration time.