Are all IT companies onboarding for the first time?

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A quick throwback to 2020

Just like David Bowie once sang, we’re all absolute beginners and this applies to post-pandemic onboarding. Well, it should be, on every IT companies’ mindset.

The pandemic brought new challenges to companies all over the world and Polarising is no exception. These challenges demanded new answers, like the Polarising Registration App that our consultants developed to register all entrances at the office, powered by Microsoft PowerApps.

Polarising has a long history of hybrid work since the days it wasn’t yet a trend. From early on, remote work is part of Polarising’s DNA and we always have been updating our internal policies to follow on our collaborators and client’s needs.

In June 2020, as the entire world had to, we were faced with a question: what will it be like to return to the office after a period of confinement with challenging health rules? The app responded to that challenge and proved itself to be a fundamental tool.

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Polarising’s Business Analyst Márcia Catarino, coordinator of the Registration App project.

2021 and the “new normal” that didn’t come to the workplace

Many of us feel that 2021 was a sequel of 2020. But there were absolute beginners in 2021, like the Champions Academy graduates: only in 2021, Polarising’s investment in junior recruitment resulted in 19 junior IT consultants hired.  

But really, like Frank in this video, we all still felt like new kids on the block. Facing anxiety and excitement at the same time for returning to the “old” office routines.

In 2021 we were not all on the same page in what comes to learning to live through a pandemic that has no expiration date. Knowing that, Polarising implemented wellbeing policies, like psychological support consultations and gave continuity to our weekly workout sessions, that have known the online version and are now back to its outdoor as usual mode.

We have found a way to keep having happy hours and celebrating the fact of being together although not together, creating contact points as we could and adapting Polarising’s traditions to the pandemic scenario.

Hello, 2022

“There is no new normal. (…) Instead of setting hard rules for how the business will operate, organizations must now juggle a multitude of options, from employee locations to supply chain components to customer demands. (…) Overall, business should be focused on two key qualities. First is flexibility, building an architecture and a workflow that can adapt to any number of changes in the future. Second is resilience, being able to withstand disruptions from any angle.” (In Comptia research report, “Trends to Watch 2021”, November 2020)

It is clear to us that the onboarding process must be worked on and continuously revised. Therefore, Polarising is investing time and resources to (re)think and redesign the onboarding process.

Our framework is that we are all onboarding for the first time! The pandemic context showed us that returning to the office and its work routines is a little bit like a first time, even if you are already in the company for some time:

“Great onboarding helps individuals regain their confidence and cuts down the time it takes for them to get up and running. But new hires aren’t the only people who could benefit from this type of structured support. Right now, everyone at your company needs some form of onboarding.” (Liz Fosslien, in Harvard Business Review)

It begins with simple things, like how to greet people:

Going to the office is important but not just to work; it’s fundamental to get insights from your colleagues, to be inspired by them and brainstorm ideas, to have a cup of coffee with someone who’s not necessarily from your direct project team.

After two years of intermittent lockdowns and social restrictions, going back to the office in 2022 is a part of our process of learning how to socialize again.

The newcomers onboarding process

But why should companies continuously look at the onboarding process beyond the pandemic context?

Because having expanded the remote work policy, it becomes more challenging to think about the company culture and create moments where the spontaneity of a “hello” exchanged in the office hallways is not lost.

Polarising’s onboarding process itself is very clear but most of all, is designed to be simpler and minimize all the expected discomfort that naturally exists when you join a new company.

This year we have centralized our already automated Onboarding process. First, we concluded that there are many bureaucratic things that can be done individually and in advance before the actual first day, such as read the employment contract, insurance information, internal procedures, and schedule the mandatory medical exam.

Simplifying the process is also important to relieve the Human Resources of all the heavy paperwork, allowing them to concentrate their efforts on the demanding recruitment rhythm that an IT consultancy like Polarising has.

So, now we have the conditions to focus on creating a first great day experience. To encourage proximity and humanize the process, everyone meets at headquarters. These meetings are hosted by one of our HR Specialists that delivers a welcome kit with all the necessary working equipment and some other treats, a tour to our intranet and to their personal files.

Then it’s 1-to-1 time with their manager to present a brief overview on the project and team dynamics, discuss training opportunities and follow-up meetings, being available to answer questions and finally, a nice lunch to celebrate!

Image: HR Specialist Inês Granja giving a welcome kit at the office.

Taking a deeper look on hybrid work

For newcomers, onboarding must confirm the message that we constantly convey on social media and other channels. And what about for all of us that have been in the company for quite some time and are also being impacted by all the changes the pandemic brought?

To build shared knowledge, create early opportunities for team members to collaborate and discover each other’s unique talents. You can also start an email thread or channel where team members can post a problem for others who may have relevant experience to share their insights. (Liz Fosslien, in Harvard Business Review)

Liz Fosslien presents us with a set of questions that any company’s management team should do themselves. But it’s evident that remote work has become one of the main issues, especially to those who went to the office and worked at their clients’ sites with entire teams.

Hybrid working is not just about the workplace, whether you’re working at home or some paradisiac island. It has so much to do with all that involves people and their interactions, like mentoring, organizing teams and tasks, supporting applications, creating new resources for working, and feedback, lots of feedback.

For example, mentoring and training have become a greater challenge and it’s important to implement best practices that will allow our teams to focus on their career development, such as transparency, collaboration and appreciation, the ability to embrace failure and excel together, and find inclusion at all levels of leadership.

Yes, we are all onboarding for the first time

Polarising really believes that this is what makes us different from any other IT consultancy. Our churn rate has a low track record and we have recruited around 40 people last year. This means that we are learning something, and one thing is that everyone should feel that the company’s values are resonating, no matter for how long they’ve been with us.

Know more about Polarising and how you can join the team.

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