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Blog HR Covid1

Remote onboarding & People Ops during COVID-19

By Jesse KeremaDigital Marketing Manager
Published on July 24, 2020

It’s fair to say 2020 took us all by surprise.

No one anticipated the onset of a global pandemic. As many in business found, we had to adopt an agile approach to daily operations in order to navigate the ever-changing requirements and respond to the evolving situation.

This week we caught up with Mitch Pinnegar, People Operations Manager here at Sine to discuss how he and the Sine team approached our response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you handle the initial response and determine when to begin taking actions as the COVID-19 threat became real?

We took a proactive approach to prepare our workplace and teams for the evolving situation. We started by communicating clearly and openly with our team and making it clear their health and safety at work was our priority. 

Our initial focus was keeping the physical workplace safe and healthy. We implemented enhanced screening measures for visitors, using Sine. Also, we communicated clear guidance to staff regarding symptoms, hygiene, cough/sneeze etiquette, travel history and the options available for relevant leave.

As a SaaS business, our teams are well equipped to work remotely and stay connected. As the situation progressed, the importance of isolation at home wherever possible became clear. From here our focus then shifted to enabling a quick shift to WFH across the teams. 

working from home sign in with qr code

We implemented a new WFH policy with a focus on effective communication. Using our existing internal tools such as Slack, we sought ways to feel more together and collaborate effectively. This led to strategies such as video or audio calls and conferences rather than chat, maintaining work/life balance by clearly indicating to your teams when you were starting and ending your day. We also encouraged breaks and physical activity and made a point of ensuring all required tools and equipment were available.

The internal culture of Sine is such an important part of the company’s success. How did you set about maintaining that with everyone working remotely?

Our teams are highly collaborative and effective communication is key to their success and a big part of our culture. We connected our experience-focused WFH policy through to daily actions. We introduced daily team calls, fortnightly all-company Zoom meetings, weekly Friday afternoon virtual knock-off drinks, virtual quizzes, and a working from home ‘best practice’ Slack channel.

Throughout the period, we shared best practice tips from our team members on a range of topics. These ranged from staying fit and healthy, ergonomics workspace setup, communicating with colleagues and friends/family and even gardening!

Sine was in the fortunate position to maintain growth throughout the COVID-19 lockdowns. The product has been an essential part of many businesses’ return to work plans. What was your approach to hiring new employees, particularly when you couldn’t meet in person?

As part of our first stage response, non-essential onsite meetings (such as interviews) were switched to Zoom. The response to this from both candidates and interviewers was widely positive. Whilst feeling a bit odd at first (we're very used to on-site interviews), our teams quickly became confident with this method.

Video interviews have actually allowed us to connect with candidates faster. They are easier to schedule and there are fewer clashes. Overall we also found that candidates were able to meet with more of our team in shorter time frames. On the whole, this has led to reduced recruitment times. Which is a better experience for our candidates and allows us to get our teams the support they need sooner.

Technical interviews were previously reliant on a physical whiteboard. However, with a few tweaks to the structure (and plenty of internal testing) we were able to successfully use the whiteboard/annotate feature during a Zoom meeting to provide the same level of collaboration.

From the hiring process to then onboarding the new employees, how did you manage those processes?

For the first time ever, we onboarded a number of employees remotely. We had to completely rethink the way we welcome a new team member. To set them up for success, we would provide access to core tools prior to their first day. It was important to ensure they could get connected and meet their teams virtually.

Slack was a key focus for us to maintain collaboration. We would introduce new starters to their ‘onboarding’ buddy and a key team of people who would help them get started. From there we encouraged open communication (and lots of questions) right within a shared channel

Our goal for the first days is to mirror the in-office connection as best as possible. Much of those (remote) days are spent on video meetings with the new hires teams, really aiming to build a strong feeling of connection.

Sine’s COVID-19 toolkit

Here at Sine, we’ve developed a range of resources to help businesses keep their workplace, people and visitors safe during outbreaks. From new features like contactless check-in and daily employee screening to helpful assets for use around your workplace.

Visit the Sine COVID-19 resource centre to find all the necessary and regularly updated support measures and resources we’ve introduced to assist and help you adapt to these particular circumstances.Looking to reopen safely after COVID-19? Find out more about Sine’s comprehensive suite of visitor, contractor and staff management solutions and schedule a demo with our team to see how Sine can help you.