Adapting to remote work inspired creative approaches to employee experiences

Picture someone about to start their first day at an exciting new job.  

A few weeks ago, they completed several great interviews – all using video calling software  

Now, they begin Day 1: grabbing a cup of coffee, signing into their computer, starting their onboarding documentationJust after 9 am, they get ready to meet with their new manager and teammates  all people they’ve only met through a computer screen 

Later that day, a representative from their human resources (HR) team reaches out to check-in about their experience as a candidate and now as a new employee – all of which has been mediated by technology.  

Since March, this experience has been the norm for people transitioning to new rolescompleting employee learning, working day-to-day or just participating in the organizational culture.   

Like many people at Softchoice, the COVID-19 pandemic has required those with roles in recruiting and talent acquisition, onboarding, training and employee engagement to rely on technology more than ever.  

The irony? In some ways, the mediation of technology has made the employee experience more human, flexible and rewarding.  

Here is a closer look at how technology is helping us meet social distancing guidelines to keep everyone safe while providing an outstanding experience for people at work  

A technology-enhanced candidate experience 

Even pre-pandemic, recruitment and talent acquisition professionalmeasured their success not only in finding great people but also on providing a high-quality candidate experience.  

It’s no surprise that today, most screening calls and interviews are conducted through videoconferencing software. At Softchoice, our talent advisors switched to video software (we use Microsoft Teams) soon after we initiated our broader COVID-19 response plan. 

Today, hiring managers also meet potential hires over a video call, and the results have been, perhaps, surprising, in that our team has found that video meetings offer a more personal human-to-human experience.  

At the same time, many hiring managers appreciate the fact that meeting someone at their home over video helps them get to know candidates as people, even accounting for the natural interruptions that can crop up in a remote work scenario.  

Compared with a traditional phone conversation, a video call facilitated by a modern collaboration platform like Teams also allows for much greater flexibility and creativity in an interview through features like whiteboarding 

“It lets both the candidate and the interviewer let their guard down in a good way. We get to see people be their authentic selves,” said Brandon Ram, Director, Talent Acquisition and Candidate Experience. 

The ability to meet and hire candidates remotely also allows organizations like ours to explore expanding their recruiting strategies with more flexibility around location for some positions.  

A 100% online onboarding experience  

Of course, the mission to provide an outstanding candidate experience doesn’t end when the offer is accepted. The reality of all-remote work has also had a huge impact on the way new people join and become a part of their organizations. 

At Softchoice, the process began with rethinking the logistics of onboarding.  

Making sure a new person had access to everything they needed to get started on their first day – from laptops and headsets to employee onboard documentation – got more complicated when visiting the office was no longer an option. 

Our employee onboarding team partnered with their IT and facilities counterparts to ensure those starting new roles with us received everything they needed at their home before their start date. The need to mobilize this process quickly, in many ways, raised the bar as many aspects of the process became even smoother and more consistent 

Meanwhile, it was important that people started to feel like they were part of the Softchoice culture right away. Before COVID-19, the onboarding process often paired each new person with a training buddy from their specific team. This person would help them navigate training materials, learn where to find important files and documents and introduce them to the people they would be working with.  

After March, video and collaboration tools became essential components of the onboarding process. By enabling people to connect person-to-person over video, rather than reading files and emails, it was possible to create a great experience by creating and welcoming new people to a virtual version of the Softchoice culture  

Sales Academy takes the classroom virtual 

The onset of all-remote work also required many organizations to take their employee onboarding and training programs online.  

This was true for the sales training program here at Softchoice. Once we understood the reality around remote work, the Sales Academy team found themselves facing the task of bringing proven program designed for in-person learning by cohort into the virtual classroom. 

This process involved re-imagining learning experience designed for face-to-face engagement without losing the rapid response and interactive roleplay that happened in the live classroom 

Using modern tools, including Teams collaboration, videoconferencing and camera technology the team could allow training facilitators to set the stage, establish success criteria and deliver a highly interactive learning program with all participants working from home.  

The transition has been a success, with over 60 new graduates of the Sales Academy having passed through the program since March. 

Softchoice stays Softchoice wherever we work 

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected everyone in ways both large and small. The leaders within Softchoice recognized from the outset that taking care of people would come first.  

The remote work situation made it harder to manage day-to-day work, ongoing projects, meetings and one-on-one activities like coaching and performance management. In some cases, people have struggled to adjust to a new way of working. 

People across the organization were inspired to ensure the Softchoice culture continued to thrive in the virtual environment. This was reflected in a deliberate approach not only to keeping regular team meetings and one-on-ones, but also socializing, team building and sustaining our commitment to social impact and responsibility 

Since March, we’ve held regular virtual events, including panels and open discussions with our employee resource groups (ERGs), ask-me-anything (AMA) events around mental health and a session on home ergonomics for physical well-being  – all making use of collaboration technology to encourage participation and interaction both as part of the workday and after hours

The way employee experiences look will continue to change as the future of work evolvesbut it’s clear that collaboration technology will remain an integral part of the journey.  

As we progress on the road to recovery and new best practices and learning emerge, we invite you to explore ourBusiness Continuity solutions and resources. 

About Softchoice Cares

Softchoice Cares is an employee-inspired and employee-driven philanthropic program that reaches across borders to show our caring in a very tangible way. Since inception, Softchoice Cares has raised more than $1.5 million to enhance opportunities for education and personal advancement so that people of all walks can achieve their potential.