Remote Training and Onboarding
Remote Training and Onboarding
5th November, 2020
We’ve all been there—weeks of preparation, multiple interviews and days of checking your email every few minutes for updates. Until finally, the offer letter arrives and you land your dream job. Feelings of accomplishment can rapidly morph into unsettling worries, as your first day looms large. What if I don’t fit in? What happens if they expect me to know something I don’t? Have I oversold myself? Here at Options, our onboarding and training programme is moulded around these uncertainties, so it’s one less thing for you to worry about. In this blog, I’ll delve into this training programme, highlighting the key areas and their importance, whilst explaining how we made changes to guarantee it was fit for COVID-19 and remote working.
The world is a very different place right now, so to adapt we’ve changed numerous elements of the training programme. The obvious one is that pretty much everything is now remote. Nevertheless, on your first day with Options, we allow you to book a 30-minute time slot in our office to meet your Team Lead and trainer face to face. Booking time slots minimises risk and gives our new starts the chance to have some valuable individual face time with the person who will be helping them to settle in – day one stresses are put to bed immediately. During the pandemic, we also send all the work from home equipment you’ll ever need right to your doorstep, including a new laptop, monitor and an Options welcome pack. That’s it for the day – an easy win for your first day.
Importance of Groups.
In Options, we much prefer starting people in groups. We find this carries with it a wide range of benefits, compared to starting your career solo with us. Travelling the world together, passing on your knowledge, helping each other through the difficult days and seeing your co-worker’s progression are all enriching experiences and help you grow as an individual. Subsequently, group work is an essential trait we look for in an Options hire and key to our business culture. The importance of starting in a group has been emphasised with a 100% remote programme. Knowing that you’re not the only newbie is one thing, but that little spark of healthy competition can help keep you motivated whilst working from home.
We’ve mentioned it numerous times before; we hire “people, not robots”. This approach ensures we make hires from a wide range of backgrounds (including non-technical pathways). We believe that this framework inspires creativity and brings new ideas to the company. The challenge this presents in the training and onboarding environment is that individuals tend to be at different stages regarding technical capacity. Subsequently, it’s imperative to bring structure to the programme. We have developed a programme that suits the needs of any individual joining the firm. Again, 100% of this is remote, and members of the support and marketing team go through the same plan!
A large amount of training time is spent on team and department presentations. These presentations have always been part of the training programme; however, it quickly became the central component whilst being remote for several reasons. Firstly, it’s tough to work with someone if you don’t know them. The September 2020 new starts had 28 different department presentations, which also meant they got to meet over 150 people within a week of their start date. These presentations benefit everyone. New starts get to put names to faces, find about more about the company and how things operate between teams internally. On the other foot, existing employees get a chance to say hello, and it’s also an excellent exercise for building confidence through presentations. We purposely select the newest members of each department as the presenters. Immediately the new starts can relate to them and their pathway within Options.
Getting to know your new colleagues is always a tough one, especially when the spontaneous coffee chat in the office can no longer materialise. We’ve counteracted this by placing a greater emphasis on the social side – not limited to the graduate programme, but globally within our firm. 50% of your first month is purely social now, and we have encouraged senior execs to get involved in the early stages of this. We replaced the random coffee chat in the kitchen with organised mountain walks. Yes, we are a tech company, but due to our hiring strategy and the nature of our company culture, we’ve got plenty of social butterflies, travel enthusiasts and people who love getting into the outdoors.
The Options Buddy System is a project that has been running successfully for several years now. When joining, not only will you be guided by your team lead and fellow peers, but you’ll have two people from the team dedicated to checking in with you each day. With new employees onboarding remotely, we had to get creative again, spinning up five virtual training rooms after the initial training is complete. The buddy system ensures that our newest team members get that extra little bit of support and (virtual) facetime that’s lost when working from home. It’s arguably the most important stage of the virtual onboarding process as the wider team binds together naturally. We’ve further plans for the buddy system whilst remote working remains the norm, extending it out to the broader business.
I’ve been there. In the Summer of 2015, I joined Options as a placement student keen to make a name for myself. Yet at the same time, lacked confidence in my ability. What helped me was having the correct combination of getting thrown into the deep end, and a personalised approach when required. Over the years here in Options, I’ve had the opportunity to onboard and train over 100 members of staff right across the globe and at various stages in their career. With each onboarding, I take the chance to place myself in the position of the new start again. As a trainer, I learned that the biggest mistake you can make is trying to sound like the smartest person in the room. Instead, what you should be focusing on is answering the questions that nobody feels confident enough to ask. As I’ve been there myself, I know these questions tend to be the most important.
Once completing the programme, we allow several weeks to pass before asking you to complete an anonymous feedback form. Feedback is important for numerous reasons. The extra few weeks will enable you to take your time and apply the knowledge learned to your new role. As a direct result of this, we gather invaluable feedback from our staff about the things we are doing well, and the new ideas we can bring to light. Again, this has been a critical element in the success of our virtual onboarding and training programme. Taking the time to listen has allowed us to implement many of the strategies above that simply wouldn’t have been brought forward if it wasn’t for the feedback form.
To end, we are very proud of the programme we have developed here. There aren’t many companies out there that can hire non-technical individuals and train them up to the highest level in financial technology. While remote working brought a range of challenges, we are pleased to say the programme stood up to the test on both a business culture and an educational level. However, the programme is constantly evolving, with new additions and innovative ideas provided by our new starts, and we’re excited to see what the next developments will bring!
– Liam Fegan, Belfast Support Team Lead
The Options 2021 Graduate and Placement programme is now open for applications. To apply, click here.