Making remote on-boarding a success

The Synaptek team is rapidly growing and we’ve just welcomed four new recruits to the team. But when we started recruitment for these roles, we never imagined we’d be onboarding our newest team members in a lockdown! 

Getting connected requires more than technology

We’re in a more fortunate position than many because our business is to connect systems, processes and people across organisations to improve collaboration and productivity. So, getting the technology right to onboard remotely was the easy part for us. But we were facing a new challenge in how to emotionally connect and engage with our newest recruits when there’s no possibility of meeting face-to-face. 

We quickly had to rethink all of our usual onboarding processes, and if there’s one thing we love at Synaptek, it’s finding a solution to fix a challenging process! 

We can automate every aspect of the onboarding process remotely, from procuring equipment and installing applications to managing account creation and access permissions. However, tackling the usual induction and cultural immersion required a new approach, using one of our favourite collaboration tools: Slack.

When Slack comes into its own

We’ve long been fans of Slack as a communications platform and we’re yet to find anything quite as effective. So, we naturally turned to Slack to make our remote onboarding process feel as engaging and personal as possible. 

Instead of the usual face-to-face introductions and training sessions, we moved all inductions to Slack. From the first day welcome session to meeting members of other teams, Slack video calling enabled us to create the social connection we’re all missing at the moment.   


Channelling information

From day one, the new joiners were able to find everything they need via dedicated Slack channels. This meant there was no need to forward copious emails or direct them to company directories to trawl for information. All the history they need can be found easily in shared channels that are simple to search. This has saved us immeasurable time in preparing onboarding information and familiarising the new starters with file locations and structures.   

We already have shared channels with other teams and partners so it was easy to hook our new recruits into these so they could quickly reach out with questions and resolve issues in real-time, just like we would if we were chatting across our desks. We’ve found this invaluable for sharing new ideas and identifying where individuals may need additional support.

Online training links are all available in our #newteam channel and we’ve provided all of our social media links for them to familiarise themselves with how we position what we do in the marketplace. 

And just for fun, we’ve created our own version of the much-hyped “KitKat” bot to remind the newbies when to take a breather and finish for the day – something that’s easily forgotten when you’re working in isolation. 

We’ve also introduced a customer-built bot that we’ve christened “Timelord Bot”! It enables our teams to quickly and simply clock in and out to account for time spent on projects, without leaving Slack. The simplicity of this has been a breath of fresh air as it auto-populates timesheets in real-time and saves hours of tedious admin and timesheet chasing! 

Integration, integration, integration

One of the beauties of Slack is the ease with which we can integrate all the platforms we use most across our business. Here’s just a highlight of some of the game-changing benefits we get from integrations with Slack:

  1. Meetings and video conferences are never missed because our Google and Outlooks calendars are synced to Slack and we’ve integrated Zoom and Google Meet too. We’re alerted to reminders and can even launch video conferences using these apps directly within Slack. So you can use your favourite hang-out tool without switching apps.  
  2. Integration with our email accounts means email threads can be added to shared channels and responded to via Slack. This helps to alleviate the curse of the unread inbox and increases productivity because there’s no need to switch apps, no delays due to a missed email and no friction caused by forgetting to copy in an interested party. Everything can be managed via a Slack channel. 
  3. Development and software build work is also actionable within Slack through Jira and Bitbucket integrations. Testing, queries, approvals and release notifications all happen within channels. We also have a Zendesk integration which enables support tickets to be managed and actioned without leaving Slack, which means everyone who needs to can keep abreast of progress, and we can respond to and resolve tickets faster than ever before. 
  4. Managing Infosec and GDPR compliance is simplified through Slack. We have dedicated channels to share the latest information, and the Business Operations team regularly post tasks for everyone to acknowledge that they’ve read and actioned the latest compliance requirements. Emojis are a quick and easy way to make sure everyone has responded and we find our teams engage better this way than when email was the tool we used for sharing. We even have custom emojis that help us to manage actions and responses without the usual back and forth on email. This isn’t just limited to compliance updates either. You can use emojis to indicate you’re reading a document or to give a one-click response to a simple question – they are such a useful time saver!        
  5. Birthday bot and OfficeVibe ensure we recognise our employees on a personal level. Everyone’s birthday is celebrated with a host of giphys from across the team, and we can track employee happiness to ensure we address issues and recognise achievements regularly, without waiting for formal appraisals.

Delivering a virtual embrace 

Collaborating via Slack in this way isn’t new to our onboarding and employee engagement process, but it has a renewed vigour in virtually immersing the new recruits in the business in the most challenging circumstances they’re likely to have faced when starting a new role. 

We’ve also done our best to embrace them virtually from day one. We sent a collection of goodies along with their hardware, so they can feel closer to the brand from the outset. Our CIO even sent a personal welcome card which went a long way in demonstrating the collaborative and caring culture we nurture at Synaptek. 

To top it all off, we hosted a welcome drink via video conference, with a virtual pub quiz to really break the ice. Slack again came into its own as we created pub team channels so we could debate and submit answers with ease. It worked a treat and really helped to build an emotional connection from afar! 


New employee swag bag welcome gifts image

The future of work 

The unique situation we’re all facing when remotely onboarding staff in these unprecedented times has been both challenging and liberating. Although the future has some uncertainty, we’re confident that we’re creating more collaborative ways of working and nurturing relationships along the way. We’re sure this will strengthen our teams and create a renewed sense of engagement when we finally get to meet face-to-face.   

For support in automating processes and improving productivity and collaboration across your business, book a demo with our Intelligent Automaton experts.