Onboarding during corona: Gergö Sas

In this time of corona, working from home and social distancing, a lot goes different. Fortunately, also a lot does go ahead: introductions and applications take place online and professionals start 'remotely' with a new client. How is it when you start with a new job today? How does onboarding from home work? How do you get to now the corporate culture from a distance? We spoke to Gregö Sas, who moved from Budapest to Amsterdam just before the corona crisis and found his new job as Online Campaign Manager at Woodwing via Babbage Company. He talks about the influence of corona, challenges and insights that this special time entails. 

Moving from Budapest to Amsterdam 

"I started looking for work in The Netherlands because my partner is a Dutch national, which made it all the more interesting! Thus I began my remote-search from Budapest and choose to set a daily target of sending out five quality job applications per day. I was very focussed on my job search. All together I must have sent out at least 120 applications! I was new to the Netherlands, so I had to make an extra effort to understand the CV and interview process, which is different from what I'm used to. Back home I have built up a strong professional network, and would get easily recommended to an organisation or freelance project. I really had to pull myself together and find out the best way to settle down and get a job. After a while I realised I would be in a better position to scout the local job market, build my network and landing a job by moving to Amsterdam. So, I took the risk and made my move. It was a little stressful but planning ahead really helped."

Job seeking, applying and interviews during the coronavirus pandemic may have changed. How did the coronavirus outbreak influenced your job search and interviews?

"Within two months of my arrival in the Netherlands and with the help of Babbage Company, I have been able to find a job as Online Campaign Manager at WoodWing. Looking back, I went through a regular job application procedure. The stay-at-home order was announced just before my last interview. I feel I was lucky enough to still be hired, considering the effect coronavirus will have on the economy. The corona measures only influenced my start date, which got pushed back by two weeks."

Onboarding experience and the first day at work

A physical presence is almost impossible with the current situation, due to social distancing. Which makes it hard to meet new colleagues or observe the company's corporate culture. How was your onboarding experience, did you manage to meet most of your colleagues (including other departments)?

"I had a very positive onboarding experience. The program included an onboarding meeting with HR at the office to collect my stuff and work essentials to set up my 'home office'. Following a brief one-on-one appointment with Maarten the CCO, setting expectations about the shape of the coronavirus for WoodWing, and my role. The program also offered virtual coffee appointments with my teammates and different departments, to give me a broader-picture insights. In addition I also got assigned a workplace buddy to guide me through the first weeks on the job."

Starting a new job is really exciting, how was your first day at work?

"It was a start to rembember! I arrived in an empty office. Soon afterwards I had to leave the office to start working from home instead. Working remotely can be challenging, particularly when you're getting started in a new job. I didn't physically met my colleagues, however I felt very welcomed. I'm very fortunate with my team, they are very understanding. Magdalena, my workplace buddy, in particular. She is really helping me finding my way."

Social distancing calls for new ways of communication. How do you stay in touch (including frequency), and which apps/communication channels do you use?

"We have daily huddle meetings with the core-team, a great way to start the day and discuss everyone's schedule. We mainly use Google Meet and WhatsApp to communicate"

How do you and your colleagues keep connected informally (e.g. have you been invited to digital pub quizzes and after-works drinks)?

"For the 20th work anniversary we had a digitial pub quiz broadcasted for the entire office, which was fun!"

Unexpected benefits working from home

Companies are seeing unexpected benefits to remote work. In fact, several tech companies such as Google and Facebook recently announced that they would continue to allow employees to work from home until 2021. Can you describe the experience you're having and what might be advantages or even disadvantages?

"Since i don't have to commute anymore, I save a lot of 'wasted' hours. Getting ready to go to work and then travelling there typically takes me 40 minutes each way. I use this time to sleep a bit longer and have a long breakfast. I start my days very comfortable and feel more productive because I can get to work in my own rhythm. I'm also a very chatty person, when working from home I can control my distractions and set the tone for how often I will need to be connected. I find that when I work from home I'm able to get a lot more accomplished.

As with everything, working from home has its disadvantages too. The lack of social interactions can be very hard for me. And sometimes it's also hard for me to seperate my private life and business lifee. Since I'm not dependent on office hours, I put in more hours."

A recent survey by Kennisinstituut voor Mobiliteitsbeleid (KiM) on the future of remote work (after COVID-19) found that 25% of the workingforce is expecting a new, more flexible era of work, which would continue to let employees work from home. Will your company permit employees to work remotely on a permanent basis?

"We have been asked to work from home till September, until further notice. However, I don't expect WoodWing to adopt a permanent work-from-home program anytime soon. Maybe if we move to a new office, our CEO will consider to run the workplace remotely. Why not save a couple of bucks on one of the biggest costs! So all options are still on the table."

And will you adapt a work-from-home position, or back-to-the-office situation?

"As the lockdown restrictions eased, we started going back to work once a week. I was actually very excited to go to the office and finally meet some of my colleagues in person. It felt like my first week all over again! In the future I would like to propose a work-from-home option to my manager. A flexible schedule which includes two days in the office, sounds like a positive development to me!"

Tips & Pointers

Finally! Which tips or pointers should others follow when job seeking, onboarding or working from home?

 "It's very important to develop a routine and create 'start the day' triggers. Make sure to get ready for the day, like getting dressed or making a coffee. Stay motivated with a list of actions and KPI's to keep yourself organized, motivated and productive! It's also a good idea to create timeslots to actively keep in touch with your colleagues. Whether it's work related or just to check-in making small talk or just get things of your chest. Also make sure to take regular breaks. This should be part of your work schedule. I'm realizing that I've been working in long continuous blocks of times, eight-hour days or more. I'm still adjusting to work from home, so this is something I'm still experimenting with in order to find my routine."

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