Bringing Company Onboarding Back to the Office
I joined Wise in January 2021, in the midst of the pandemic. Lockdowns and social distancing guidelines had established a firm grip on our way of life, so it was no surprise to me that I was onboarded virtually.
Despite experiencing my first few weeks at Wise from my living room, I really enjoyed my onboarding experience. Although I would have preferred being in the office with my new colleagues, I understood the circumstances. Through Zoom meetings and virtual breakout rooms I was able to connect with our mission and values, network with fellow Newbies and other Wisers, and get a glimpse of our autonomous way of working.
Even though Wise experienced a lot of the same things most other companies went through as a result of Covid-19, there is one key area where we were different. While many other companies downsized their workforce or remained static, Wise was GROWING. We went from 2,000 to 3,300 Wisers worldwide in my first year with the company! That’s a lot of Newbies who have onboarded remotely.
A Wise decision.
Our People Development team flexed and adapted to welcome all our Newbies during this shift to remote working and virtual learning. We got into a great rhythm and received positive feedback about our onboarding programme, but we knew it wouldn’t stay like this forever. It couldn’t.
The onboarding experience for us is more than signing contracts, issuing equipment and granting system access. It’s the chance to celebrate Newbies joining our mission of money without borders – instant, convenient, transparent and eventually free. It’s a chance to feel connected, to feel excited, and to feel inspired about being a Wiser. Of course, this all can and has been done virtually but there is just no substitute for being in the office and interacting in person.
So this April, we did it. We brought Newbies across the Americas region to our Tampa office and those in EMEA attended company onboarding in either Tallinn or Budapest in their first week of joining. It was a glorious thing to see all the excitement and buzz that Newbies bring back into the offices.
Connecting onboarding with our values.
At Wise we are not only passionate about our mission, but we also hold fast to our values which move us forward. So when we started thinking about bringing company onboarding back into the office, we naturally approached it through the lens of our values. They are our compass guiding us onwards, the Wise way.
This isn’t just a job, we’re a revolution.
It’s hard to feel like you’re part of a revolution when you are sitting alone, working from your living room. One of the biggest benefits to onboarding is the opportunity to really connect with our culture and build relationships and rapport with other Wisers. And the most effective way of doing this is by meeting other Wisers in person, seeing first-hand how we work and interact with each other, and catching the vibe in our awesome offices.
Having Newbies together in their first week at the office generates an energy, an electric feeling that just can’t be matched virtually. That excitement is contagious and Wisers in the office are warm and welcoming – we are excited to have Newbies who are ready to help us towards our mission.
We get it done.
Like most companies world-wide, we abruptly switched from in-person onboarding to virtual sessions in the spring of 2020 due to the pandemic. When we first moved from in-person facilitation to Zoom sessions we all assumed it would be a short term situation for a month or two, tops. Once we realised that Covid was sticking around much longer than anyone anticipated, we got to work reimagining what our onboarding experience should look like in this ‘new normal’. We put together a pretty stellar hybrid company onboarding programme (Zoom sessions mixed with autonomous self-paced e-learning) which achieved a net promoter score of 81.
We could have been content with this and continued virtual company onboarding indefinitely. But we continue to look for opportunities to improve. How can we do things differently, more effectively? What couldn’t we do before that perhaps we can do now? For company onboarding, the time is now to bring the action back to our offices. We are evolving to the next era of our onboarding experience and making great things happen.
Customers > team > ego
For me and my team, we don’t limit the scope of ‘customer’ to simply those that use Wise products. As part of the People tribe, we support the people of Wise – our Wisers. Making the shift from virtual onboarding back to in-person, in-office onboarding impacts a lot of processes.
We don’t make decisions based on what’s going to be the easiest path for us as individuals, with the least amount of resistance (I mean, that would be amazing but it doesn’t typically turn out like that). There is a saying to ‘do what is right, not what is easy’. Easy would be to continue delivering virtual onboarding. It’s convenient, saves us lots of resources, and is now pretty well established. But, we can do better. Ultimately bringing onboarding back to the office and having face to face interactions is going to be the best experience for our Newbies. Our path is clear and our destination set!
No drama. Good karma.
There are complex interdependencies and many teams and processes involved to bring our new joiners into the office. One small decision point (such as what time should we ask Newbies to arrive?) has a ripple effect and could cause a disruption felt by numerous areas (building access, IT support, workplace community coordination, etc).
Rather than building up walls and protecting the interests and resources of the individual teams, our Wisers have rallied together to bring onboarding back to the office. We have had plenty of open conversations, brainstorming sessions, and transparency in what our desired and expected outcomes are. This means we can look at this experience from all angles and collaborate to engineer the best possible onboarding experience for our Newbies. There’s no easy solution that caters to all of our respective needs and concerns but we all believe that the onboarding programme we are building is worth all the effort – whatever it takes.
Where do we go from here?
We will no doubt make even more adjustments and improvements to our onboarding experience in the coming weeks and months, but one thing is certain – our Newbies are now being welcomed in person, in our offices and we couldn’t be more excited for the future of our onboarding journey at Wise!