We’ve always believed that first impressions matter, especially for new hires. Why? Because an estimated 69% of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experience a strong onboarding process.
Similarly to how we constantly iterate and tweak our suite of products, we also evolve our new hire experience based on employee feedback and needs. In 2019, we moved from in-person training in our HQ in Cambridge, MA to a regionalized onboarding model running in each of our global headquarter offices (Cambridge, Dublin, and Singapore) to create a more inclusive and localized onboarding experience for new HubSpotters. And in March 2020, as all HubSpot employees moved to temporarily work from home due to COVID-19, our new hire training and onboarding process pivoted from in-person to 100% online.
Moving to an entirely remote onboarding experience has presented unique challenges and opportunities. Many of our new hires are finding themselves in situations they didn’t plan for like adjusting to working from home for the first time, managing childcare or care of a family member, navigating their home and office being the same space, etc.
That’s why leading with empathy and flexibility is critical in creating a successful remote onboarding experience. Whether that’s providing additional training on our technology, sharing best practices for participating during online learning, or hosting optional sessions to ensure they feel supported, informed and set up for success, our goal is to help all of our new employees be comfortable working from home and being (temporary) remote employees.
We asked five new hires from across HubSpot’s global offices to share their honest experience, and advice for new hires about to undergo new hire training and onboarding virtually. Here’s what they had to say:
Q: How did you feel when you learned that your new hire onboarding experience would be fully remote?
“I was definitely curious about how online new hire training would unfold, and I was concerned that post- onboarding, I would merely be just a name to colleagues due to the lack of in-person face time with the wider team. But, most of my concerns pre-onboarding were alleviated within the first couple of days. While there was obviously a lot of planning that went into new hire onboarding, the experience itself was spontaneous and personal. Being able to create relationships as strong as I did (especially with my mentor and manager) was something I wasn’t expecting coming into this.” – Matthew, Customer Success Manager, Singapore
“When I realized I would be onboarding remotely, I was concerned about how much I’d be able to concentrate just sitting at a laptop all day following Zoom training, and I was worried about not being able to get to know my other inductees and teammates properly. But the training was really well organized with plenty of breaks, some self-paced e-learning, and opportunities to connect with others.” – Andrew, Recruiter, Dublin
“I didn’t have any initial reservations, worries or concerns before I started new hire training. I was excited to meet everyone and interested to see how we would experience the culture in the same way that HubSpotters I had spoken with previously had mentioned as they had travelled from Sydney to Singapore for new hire training.”- Laura, Growth Specialist, Sydney
“I knew that HubSpot employed full-time remote employees and that they were organized to communicate effectively at a global level, so I was put at ease by this. Something I did worry about though was meeting new people and my team face-to-face. I wasn’t sure how it would work out remotely, but my worries were soon relieved when I started my onboarding process.” – Ciana, Principal Channel Consultant, Dublin
“I honestly wasn’t too worried about the onboarding process for my position (as a blog writer) for a few reasons. First, I was the only one onboarding to the team at the time, second, much of the blog team is full-time remote (including my manager), and third, my position lends itself to learning and working independently. For those reasons, I was confident in my team’s ability to onboard remotely.” – Jamie, Junior Staff Writer, Cambridge, MA
Q: Can you describe what your remote onboarding experience was like?
“It has been a bit strange, but on top of classroom training, one teammate set-up daily morning coffees to chat about how I’m getting on, answering any questions and just making me feel really welcome. I also have recurring catch-ups with my other teammates which has been a great opportunity to get to know them, weekly 1-2-1s with my manager and our regular team meetings.” – Andrew, Recruiter, Dublin
“Training was both exciting, and at times challenging. Group activities worked well with Zoom break out rooms, and self paced work was interactive, easy to navigate and at times humorous which made it enjoyable.” – Laura, Growth Specialist, Sydney
“I was very pleasantly surprised at how inclusive the experience was. I also found the mix between theory learning and practical application really well balanced. Throughout the training period we were also introduced to and got to know seasoned members of the organization, across various functions, in natural conversational settings.” – Matthew, Customer Success Manager, Singapore
“The trainers are remarkable, the IT set-up and technology is seamless and the program is faultless. From the very first minute of my first day, I was on a zoom call with the full new hire class. I got to meet everyone and connect on the calls and group chats, so I instantly felt included and welcomed. My manager and teammates set up times in my diary from day one, so I had a really clear structure from the get-go and always knew who to go to if I had a question. There’s self-paced work mixed with group activities, so I had a constant stream of online and human resources to help me out.” – Ciana, Principal Channel Consultant, Dublin
Q: What surprised you most about the remote onboarding process?
“How normal it felt! I’m lucky because I don’t have other distractions at home, but there was so much empathy and flexibility, it made it seem totally relaxed. However, I did find it difficult not being able to just wheel over to someone’s desk to ask questions, or get chatting to co-workers to get to know people. That was probably the toughest part, and it’s an unavoidable part of being remote, but tools like Slack, and Zoom make it easy to connect, and less isolating.” – Andrew, Recruiter, Dublin
“While there is certainly a lot to learn about HubSpot, the accessibility of information, be it through a trainer, the internal Wiki or a knowledge base, was something that pleasantly surprised me. Also my ability to forge strong relationships through this process (especially with my mentor and manager) was something I wasn’t expecting coming into this. I really appreciate the effort and the resources that were allocated to the onboarding experience, and it definitely exceeded my expectations.” – Matthew, Customer Success Manager, Singapore
“How seamless the whole experience was. The entire process ran like a well-oiled machine. The trainers, IT team, managers and mentors – they are world-class. Another thing that surprised me was the capability of the HubSpot product, resources, and tools. Even through remote onboarding, we had full access to the resources and tools that an onsite onboarding class would have. Lastly, I was surprised that I came out of remote onboarding having made genuine connections with some of my classmates, mentors and trainers. We still keep in touch even though we’ve gone separate ways into our roles and we’re looking forward to the day when we can meet face-to-face.” – Ciana, Principal Channel Consultant, Dublin
“I was surprised to learn that other people on my team were also figuring out how to handle remote work. For some reason, I thought that by this point everyone must be killing it in their new work from home routine, but that certainly wasn’t the case for everyone. It was reassuring to know that we’re all adjusting to this new normal together!” – Jamie, Junior Staff Writer, Cambridge, MA
Q: What advice would you give someone about to go through a remote onboarding process?
“Don’t expect to take everything in all at once. There are a ton of amazing resources available but it’s a lot when you first start. Take regular breaks as well. I know there have been times when I’ve had a gap in my calendar and I’ve felt guilty, thinking I should be filling every available minute somehow but I’ve found that by taking some time away from my laptop, I’m more focused when I come back. I don’t come from a place where we had that kind of autonomy so it’s hard to get used to at first but you’ll be much better for it.” – Andrew, Recruiter, Dublin
“I recommend buddying up with someone in your new hire batch, to help keep each other accountable, to have a person you can go to to share experiences with and to help study or learn together. We organized a couple of weekend Zoom sessions as a group and invited anyone from our new hire group to join, to recap or explore areas together that we wanted to explore further. This provided an additional opportunity to build rapport, and we’ve kept in contact, often doing ‘health checks’ now that we are fully moved into our new roles.” – Laura, Growth Specialist, Sydney
“My advice would be to be ‘over engage’ (where productive) during your virtual training sessions, rather than silently observing. Don’t be shy to ask questions to your peers, trainers, or manager outside of your classroom sessions – I did plenty of that and was always met with a sincere and genuine response.” – Matthew, Customer Success Manager, Singapore
“Whilst the training is exciting, insightful and sometimes fun, it’s also full on! You’re on Zoom sessions with your class for most of the day in the first four weeks, so it’s nice to get away from your screen. I wanted to pretend I still had to commute to work, so I’d go for a quick fifteen minute walk or cycle before I started the day and made sure to take breaks. The space you’re working in is also important. If your circumstance allows it, try and find an area in your home that you can treat as your office space and ideally don’t work from your bedroom. It’s good to be able to separate your work space from your sleep and relaxation space so you can truly recoup and chill at the end of every day.” – Ciana, Principal Channel Consultant, Dublin
“Set aside time for virtual coffee chats with your teammates. It can be difficult not making in-person connections with people in an office setting, so I would recommend setting up one or two Zoom calls a week to get to know your co-workers. From my own experience, everyone on my team has been incredibly friendly and willing to chat about HubSpot, or really anything else.” – Jamie, Junior Staff Writer, Cambridge, MA
Thanks to our Learning & Development team, we’re proud to be the #2 Best Company for Professional Development according to reviews on Comparably. If you want to learn more about HubSpot’s ‘always be learning’ culture, visit hubspot.com/careers. Learn more about remote life at HubSpot and meet some of our remote community in this video.