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In mid-March, Atypic made the decision to begin working from home due to the rise and spread of COVID-19. Because of our industry, our company is one of the lucky few that can work remotely without too much disruption to our process, productivity and projects. However, as a company that prioritizes culture and connection, especially throughout the hiring process, we were faced with the unfamiliar task of interviewing and training new team members - virtually.
In the past 9 months of working remotely, we welcomed two new talented individuals to the Atypic team - Matt Giebeig, a Front-End Developer, and Melody Songer, a Visual Designer.
Like many other companies, we have never hired or trained a new team member virtually, so this was completely new territory. However, as our company - and the world continues to evolve, one of our priorities is always experimenting with new processes and learning from successes and faults we encounter along the way.
So we - virtually - sat down with Matt and Melody to understand their experience with onboarding virtually.
What was your overall experience starting at a new company during a global pandemic?
Matt: There was a lot of change going on in my life when COVID-19 became a serious issue. My wife Lainey also got a new job during this time period, so between both of us changing jobs in addition to quarantine and social distancing, basically nothing in our lives stayed the same.
It also made me nervous that somehow the job opening I had just interviewed for may no longer exist given all the uncertainty. I put my notice in at my old job literally the day before lockdown started in Charlotte, so the timing was quite scary.
Melody: Similar to Matt, my life was also experiencing a lot of change before quarantine went into full effect. I was in the midst of leaving my first ever designer position since graduating, which had gone remote months earlier, in search of a physical space to collaborate and receive mentorship. During the interview process, which bled into the first few weeks of quarantine, I feared if the job I so badly wanted would still be here – especially since many in the creative community were being let go.
What was the interview process like?
Matt: I actually interviewed at Atypic before the Coronavirus shutdown so I was able to experience the interview process the “normal” way. I had a lot of fun getting to know everyone during the interviews and then shortly after that, the world went into lockdown mode.
Melody: Even though pretty much my entire interview process was virtual, I still felt like I was able to get to know the entire team on both a professional and personal level. Talking to all of the teams individually allowed me to get a better understanding of everyone’s positions, expectations, and how we would work together.
How was being trained virtually different from your previous, in-person job training experiences?
Matt: It was definitely more difficult and awkward being trained via video chat. I realized it’s definitely more cumbersome than being able to walk up to someone's desk and ask a question or talk through an issue.
Melody: Even though I wasn’t in the office, I was provided everything I needed within my first week, including detailed documents on our process and clients. I felt prepared and eager when the work started to come in for this reason. Most of my virtual training actually felt quite casual and less rigid than I thought it might be – I would be informed of tasks with clear expectations, deadlines and suggested approaches, and was encouraged to raise my hand if I had questions / conflicts. Design + program reviews, periodic check-ins and one-on-one performance reviews (all via Slack or video) really helped me gauge how I was doing, where I could be better and what I should aim for next!
What are some positive experiences you've had since joining Atypic?
Matt: I was pleasantly surprised at how well I was able to fit in with the culture even though we were all interacting remotely. Working at Atypic felt normal after just a few weeks and I was relieved that everyone still made attempts to get to know me even despite the situation.
Melody: So many positive experiences so far and so grateful for how smooth of a transition it was, considering the circumstances! Everyone was so prompt and attentive in helping me understand the company processes and answering all of my questions (and there were A LOT). There’s also a huge emphasis on work life balance here, so I always feel comfortable speaking up when I’m feeling overwhelmed, and my coworkers hold me accountable if they see I haven’t given myself a proper break. I truly feel invested in – career-wise, but also mentally and personally. Our team’s collaboration also makes me really happy – we each believe that when we work together, we create better. Lastly, I especially love that even though we’re remote, the company still made an effort to keep the culture alive. We did weekly trivia and had a socially-distanced group picnic, so I was able to actually meet everyone.
What do you wish was different?
Matt: It was disappointing to not actually be able to socialize with everyone in-person like I had been expecting! I had to keep reminding myself that the people I was interacting with online were the same people I had already met, but something about things going virtual made it all feel strangely disconnected at times. It was also disappointing to not be able to utilize our cool office space. After interviewing at the office I was really looking forward to working in that environment, and I still have yet to do so!
Melody: Working with my coworkers effectively and collaboratively has and always will be a priority, but just as important to me is the bonds you make that extend past just working together. I hate that, because we’re not in the office, I’m missing out on the day-to-day shenanigans, impromptu lunches and camaraderie that comes with working together physically.
I also have been realizing how difficult it is to “leave” work when you’re working from home, so I am currently involved in a process of self-reflection and mindfulness to adjust myself to this new normal!
As of November 2020, our team continues to work remote for the health and safety of ourselves and our families. While we miss each other and the office space dearly, we take pride in our ability to persevere under the circumstances and take comfort in knowing that this will not last forever.