a podcast by Pawlean

How to Survive Remote Onboarding with Sonnie, Elle and Rebekah

April 02, 2021 Pauline Narvas Season 1 Episode 13
a podcast by Pawlean
How to Survive Remote Onboarding with Sonnie, Elle and Rebekah
Chapters
0:09
Introduction - Today's topic
1:09
An introduction on today's guests - Sonnie, Elle and Rebekah
1:45
What was the initial hour leading up to logging in online like? What structure was in place for you, if any?
9:30
What were the things that helped you onboard remotely? What did you do? What did the company do?
21:00
Engineers - how scary is it to be introduced to a new codebase especially remotely!! What are some things that you did to make sure that you were brought up to speed with the codebase and technologies?
32:00
If you could go back and do it again, what would you do differently?
42:00
If someone listening to this has just started their job remotely, what is ONE key actionable advice that you would tell them to hit the ground running?
50:00
Conclusion - thanks & support!
a podcast by Pawlean
How to Survive Remote Onboarding with Sonnie, Elle and Rebekah
Apr 02, 2021 Season 1 Episode 13
Pauline Narvas

Did you start a new job during the pandemic? Excited for it? Yeah, same. Go you for challenging yourself! 

As the days get closer to your start day, it can be quite nerve wrecking especially when you're meeting your new colleagues on a virtual Zoom call. Don't worry, those emotions are totally normal. But how do you ease the inevitable worry on your first day and your first few weeks?

For today's episode, I'm joined by some of my favourite 'Techie' bloggers / Twitter friends - Sonnie, Elle and Rebekah - where we discuss surviving remote onboarding.

This episode's video format can also be found on YouTube.com/PaulineNarvas.

〰️
Content from today's speakers
Rebekah (@rkulidzan)

Elle (@_elletownsend)

Sonnie (@sonniehiles)

〰️

Liked this episode and want to chat some more? Find me on social media!

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Did you start a new job during the pandemic? Excited for it? Yeah, same. Go you for challenging yourself! 

As the days get closer to your start day, it can be quite nerve wrecking especially when you're meeting your new colleagues on a virtual Zoom call. Don't worry, those emotions are totally normal. But how do you ease the inevitable worry on your first day and your first few weeks?

For today's episode, I'm joined by some of my favourite 'Techie' bloggers / Twitter friends - Sonnie, Elle and Rebekah - where we discuss surviving remote onboarding.

This episode's video format can also be found on YouTube.com/PaulineNarvas.

〰️
Content from today's speakers
Rebekah (@rkulidzan)

Elle (@_elletownsend)

Sonnie (@sonniehiles)

〰️

Liked this episode and want to chat some more? Find me on social media!

Pauline Narvas:

Hello, everyone. I'm your host, Pauline Narvas. Welcome to my podcast, 'a podcast by Pauline'. This is where I share my thoughts on topics that are important to me, and experiences that I think you'd find mildly entertaining or maybe even insightful. If you're new here, here's what you should know about me. I'm a 20, something year old Filipina living in the UK. I've been working in the tech industry for the past two years, and I have a degree in Biomedical Sciences. Since 2008, I've been sharing my life in pixels on my blog, 'pawlean.com'. I'm also a international speaker, plant lover, health and wellness enthusiast. And as someone who basically grew up on the internet, I'm also a professional oversharer. Thanks for joining me! For today's episode, I'll be joined by Sonnie, Elle and Rebekah, as we talk about surviving remotes onboarding. Let's get started with the episode!

Sonnie:

So hi, I'm Sonnie. I'm an iOS engineer, and I remote on-boarded about six months ago.

Elle:

Hi, I'm Elle. I'm a technology analyst in finance, and I remote on-boarded last September.

Rebekah:

Hi, I'm Rebekah. I'm a data engineer. Um, I previously worked as a policy consultant. So I got a new job remotely in November, but I also switched careers applied for new jobs and went through all of that process all remotely as well. So I can I can dip into a bit of that change as well, if you want to later on.

Pauline Narvas:

Yes, amazing. So yeah, like I said in the introduction, I'm really excited to have everyone here, just because I feel like we all have our unique experience. But at the same time, it is a collective thing. We're all experiencing the same thing and our own different unique, like ways. So just a bit about me. I'm Pauline. I'm a DevOps engineer. And I went through the remote onboarding process in January in 2021. And I'm two months into my new role. And I'm still just trying to get through the whole onboarding process. Every single day, I feel like "I've nailed this, I've got this", but you know, things pop up. And it can be it still is quite daunting logging in and working and not really knowing your colleagues. And I think that's the sort of conversations that we're like touch upon today. So yeah, thanks again, everyone, for for like joining today. And having your expertise in this subject. Because it's nice to know that, you know, we're not alone, when we go through this, especially now, we don't know when lockdown is going to end. We don't know when this is officially over. So I expect that long term, a lot of companies are going to continue this remote onboarding process. Could you all talk to me about like that initial hour leading up to like logging in online? Like, was there any structure for you? What did you expect? What was the communications beforehand? Because I know, for me, I had a few emails to say, this is what to expect on your first day. And then I logged in. And, you know, the PDF that I got, they said it should run smoothly. And it didn't. So my first day was quite stressful because my laptop wasn't working properly. And it couldn't connect to my Wi Fi for some reason. And so it was quite stressful for me. But luckily, I had that support. But yeah, I was just wondering what was it like for you.

Sonnie:

So my first day started quite late. So my kind of be online by was 11, which meant I had a whole morning of kind of fretting about and worrying. So to kind of get out of my own head a bit I went and got coffee and like just got out and didn't want to worry about it didn't want to think about it. So I've been up since like 7AM worrying about it. So I thought you know, that better than just sitting there and freaking out. I was sent a laptop that was like, completely new, just like in the box never been opened. So the first hour or so was me talking to it with a few of the other people who were also joining at that time trying to set it all up. I also had loads of problems. So it took everyone else like 40 minutes. It took me I think four and a half hours of like sitting there with an engineer, which was you know, good fun, but it was super helpful and friendly and ended up chatting and I learned quite a lot from him about how to get stuff done. Because he could he was a good person to have so not had lots of problems since then.

Pauline Narvas:

No, that's good! Like what you said about the 40 minutes thing I think something like on the PDF it says for me an hour also and it took me the whole day and it wasn't until like 4PM that I finally got talking to my team. I just felt so embarrassed, but what can you do? You're right.

Elle:

Yes, for me, for me, it was really nice because we sort of had this expectation where it didn't matter if we didn't get online that day. And we were all like, it was a grad scheme sort of thing. So we were all expected to get started as well, as soon as we could. But there were definitely so many people in my cohort that sort of started. And then it was just impossible to get their laptops to work. And it was, you know, the whole day is on the phone to support like, please, can you just help me get my laptop set up, and mine got delivered like a week before I started, so I was able to, you know, I had it all unboxed ready on my desk. So that way, when I woke up, I could start the process. And I had a PDF that was out of day and really, really difficult to follow, but managed to only have to ring support once to get my laptop started. So I was pretty happy with that and got on teams by really close to the end of the day. But there was, it was nice that we didn't have that expectation to get an online, you know, it was like a zero was actually Day One. And then we started when everybody was online the next morning.

Pauline Narvas:

So it's actually really good. Like I wish that was explicitly communicated, in my case is like, even though I was like calling my manager and I was like, "I'm so sorry, I'm not online yet." He was like, "Calm down, don't worry, it's your first day." But I wish that is like explicitly communicated on a PDF or comes on an email just because it would definitely ease like a lot of people because they don't feel like that pressure to meet their team straightaway or whatever.

Rebekah:

So I think mine was quite different to you guys. And that might be because I work for a startup. And so we're growing quite a lot now. So I think we're probably when this is out about 30 people or so. And but at the time it was it was a bit less. And I also had a gap between my two jobs. And I made my new employer aware of that. So I was kind of happy to log on and check that things were working beforehand. But yeah, my CTO sent me my laptop by courier and he'd set everything up. And then I just had to put in kind of my username and stuff, log on, change my password. And then the rest of it, I could do in my first week. So I could still in my first day, join all the meetings and get to know everyone. And then all of the setup, like all of the software and programs that we all use. I just did that step-by-step in my first week. And but the actual getting onto my laptop and stuff that was super easy. Because it had all been yeah, setup for me and just curious to me, you know, ready to go. I guess.

Pauline Narvas:

It's sort of crazy, because over the past like year, that's what companies have had to adapt to. And I know that that's not a normal process for them. And I know that the company that I'm working for now, they had a few when they when the lockdown first hit when COVID first hit in March 2020, they actually told me how difficult it was to get laptops out just because they didn't have that process set up. And so the people who start in March 2020, they actually didn't end up working officially, they had access to slack. But they didn't, you know, start working until like two months down the line, just because they didn't have a laptop. And that process wasn't there. And so it is nice now like as this becomes "the new normal." As you know, lockdown has extended a little bit more. It's a process that people are sharpening upon. And it's just fantastic to hear that you've all had quite positive experiences. I just wanted to share a quick story. So after I got my laptop, on my first week, I think it was two weeks later, I finally got everything set up. And it was absolute nightmare because of my laptop and my Wi Fi issues. But then two weeks later, I spilt water all over my laptop. And it was open and stuff. And I was like "No, no, it can't be broken" because I've had MacBook MacBooks before before and they were always resilient. I threw all sorts of shit across. Like I threw my physical MacBook. But then, like, I think the 2015 onward versions are quite delicate. I have the new 2019 16 inch MacBook Pro. As soon as I spilled the water on it, it just completely died. I tried rice. I tried like all sorts of different things. And then I ended up having to call my manager the next day like can you send me another laptop, I have had to go through the whole process again. But the second time, I was a lot quicker. And so that counts as something right? My next question is around what were the things that helped you on board remotely? Like what did you do? And what did the company do? This is a quite a generalized question so feel free to take in any direction at all.

Rebekah:

So I'll answer it in in two parts. Probably the easiest is to answer what my company did. That really helped with the process. One of the things that I've I've written about on my site and kind of talked about quite openly is they haven't really excellent one to one culture. And my first week was loads of one to ones so much so that I almost forgot I wasn't in an office with people. Like I was just getting to know different people. And it was really, really casual. You know, I was drinking loads of coffee at home, because it kind of felt like that, that vibe, like I was just going out for coffee with people. And I met everyone in my team within the first like couple days. But there was also some other people that I guess they knew that I'd work with frequently outside of my team, that they kind of integrate into that first week. And then there were some others, that by the end of the first kind of two months, I'd had coffees with everyone. And that was really welcoming and made me feel really great, I'd come from a really big company before, where, you know, it was different, because I knew I knew the people in my team anyway, because I've worked with them three years. But I had talked with them a lot less while working from home. So it was quite a culture shock for me to be in a team that was like, so open to chatting, and I kind of thought, Oh, this is just the first week and like it's gonna die off. But actually, it's been consistent. And if you don't have one to ones in the diary, your manager or someone else will go, you know, have you scheduled your one to ones this week, make sure you're checking in with someone. So yeah, that's been a really helpful thing, and has made it feel less lonely. And I also think the one to one culture is quite good in that, whether it's project related, or just like a coffee and catching up with someone. In my company, if you say I want five minutes, it's really five minutes, if you say I want half an hour, it's half an hour. And that means that I think people are less nervous to jump on a call. Because in my old workplace, you know, I think there wasn't that culture of jumping on a call, he was so used to being in the office all the time that you would associate a call with a meeting. And that is always going to be longer. And so I think people just didn't jump on calls as easily. And that's been something that I think has helped my remote process the whole way through. Because whether it's just I don't know what's wrong with my code. Like I've been staring at this for ages, let's just jump on a call, let me have a look at it. You know, that actually happened to me this morning. And I was like, I don't know where these four individuals have gone, jumped on a call, within two minutes, my colleague was like, Oh, that's where they've gone. And it was all resolved in seconds. And I've been staring at this thing for like half an hour. So that's been one thing that they've done and carried through the whole work from home process that I think has been super beneficial for me to feel comfortable. One thing that I've done is to remind myself how new I am, all the time. So when I kind of reflect on the work that I've done that week, whether it was at the beginning, or now you know, reminding myself where I am on that journey, because some days I can be really hard on myself, or I think oh, I should know how this person communicates or I should know how to do this project. I've been working on it for two months. And then I go, Well, actually, I've only been in tech for less than six months. Like I need to remind myself self of that all the time. And that goes from everything, as I said, from the coding skills to the people skills and learning how my company works. And then also on the flip side, remembering, you know, I talked about this often I think I shared a tweet today about it, that we're not working from home out of choice, you know, some of us do do that. And I used to do that in my old job occasionally. But we're doing all of this with no known end point as as of yet. And that can make it really challenging communication wise, following each other's work, you know, Shadow days are really difficult at home, all of that stuff. And just reminding myself of that, whenever I get those down or low moments has been really helpful to then match up with the one to ones in the conversations with my colleagues, and I'm working through all of that stuff. So if I had to boil it down really, really short for you guys, so I wasn't talking about you for the whole episode, that those would be my kind of two things personally and that my company's done.

Pauline Narvas:

That's really, really positive actually, just because like it can be quite isolating content when you start a new job remotely. And you're just talking to people on the screen. And you know, half the effort from the other side from the people who work at the company to try and bring you in try and get you up to speed with the culture and up to speed with the code base or, or whatever it is. It's It is so vital. And so having those conversations early on is so, so important. And I'm glad that you had such a positive experience that sounds like so, no, that's great. Ell , is there anything you would a d to that? In your experienc

Elle:

Yeah, so I completely agree with what Rebekah said, especially with regards to like feeling down and feeling like, Oh, I should be better at this or, you know, that sort of pressure that you put on yourself that you can't compare to everybody else in the team. And it's really important to remind yourself that, you know, this is my first job in tax. So there's, there shouldn't be that expectation of me to perform, like the engineers that are higher up than me in the team. But they are there to support me and I found something that's been so so vital in my joining my team was that I buddied up with somebody. And so somebody who came through the graduate scheme, previous years, and but isn't my team, he's now my sort of buddy in the team. So any work that he does, he now sort of gets pulls me in and gets me to help him with that. Or even if it's just if I sit on a call with him and power program, anything like that we just work together on things in it really helped me feel like I'm not just an inconvenience. And I'm not just a fly on the wall in meetings, I'm actually getting involved with coding and, and actually getting to work on projects when I'm so early on in, in my career.

Pauline Narvas:

That is like, that's just the welfare of I love it. I love everything you said there. I think like you said, pair programming is so important. And having that body system is really important as well. Because when you're new, and you join a Slack channel with full of names of people you don't even know like, how do you even start, like, fine. I know personally, I didn't find the confidence to like, start a chat with some random person I've never met, even though it's sort of expected or not expected. I think from my personal experience, I've always wanted to be a bit more proactive. But at the same time, it's still quite daunting. So having someone on the other side being like, Hey, I can pair program with you let me buddy up with you. It's so vital. It's so important. And I'm glad that you have that experience. Sonnie, i there anything you wanted to ad to that

Sonnie:

So my first week was a little bit different, because, well, first, it took me ages to get going. But once I was going, it was my first day, it was just like, meet all the people that like just like one after another one on ones, you know, talk to my manager, my manager goes, Oh, go talk to this person. And I kind of had to set it all up myself, which was quite good. So they had a list of people who I had to talk to, and they all kind of had the space for it. But it was kind of left to me to be proactive and say, you know, these are the people you know, set up the meetings, get in contact with them and start that conversation. And I found that was quite good. Because it it was like it wasn't just me sitting there going right, this person next to this don't know, it was kind of hard to you know, look them up, see what they did find out what how they were going to help me in my journey moving forward. And as a result of doing that, I then had a lot of people who I knew like I'm having a problem in this specific area, right? That's the person to go to, or you know, I've already talked to them before. So it's way less scary just to sound like I'm stuck. Can you help me type message, which I found in my first week, I was doing like, basically every 20 minutes just over and over again. The other thing was I also had a mentor. And she was pretty key in in it because again, she was the kind of person I went to I'm like, if I've been asked to do this, but I don't even know what that means. So it gave me something I could ask like the really dumb questions too. And then I mean, I still use that now. So I'm like six months in and still the same person I go to him like, I should definitely know what this means. But I've got no idea. Can you like make me look smart and help me reply to this person. And then having that like really strong connection has given me the confidence to just go like, Oh, yeah, I can definitely make that change or do that and then go ask how to do it later. Which is Yeah, it's helped me grow a lot in that half a year.

Rebekah:

I fully identify with w at you said about asking the s upid questions because I have m first week. I remember I was s arching for one of our i ternal software that we use. I w s searching for it on Google l ke, oh, like, what is this? A d I was like trying to figure i out. I was like, why isn't it w rking? And I was searching l ke, why is there no Stack O erflow for this? And it's b cause it's obviously internal t us. But I didn't like know w ere to look for that. And so I t ink that's an important one l ke mine was less formal than h ving a buddy or a mentor, p obably because it was smaller. B t having someone that I knew I c uld go to that wasn't my m nager, I think is important. A d that seems like it's a c mmon thread review guys. It's l ke not that your manager is n t great or informal or chatty, b t it's there is something a b t different with that r lationship. And so I think it i good to go to like teammates o colleagues, you know, you can k nd of bounce off some of the s lly things, too and not feel v ry embarrassed.

Sonnie:

Yeah, definitely. I feel like when it's your manager you're a bit more like you know i don't want them to think i'm like i wasn't the correct person to hire or something were kind of like a team member they're like oh yeah i was the same you know just just do this this and this and you'll be fine which yeah it really helps settle those nerves

Pauline Narvas:

Oh, I can't agre enough like i've just echoin everything you've said is jus sometimes like when i think bac on my first few weeks i kep going to the same person and i got to the point where i wa like i hope i'm not annoyin them and then one time we wer like talking and i said i hop i've not annoying you becaus sometimes i just talk and tal and talk without thinking o what i'm gonna say and it's lik no i sometimes don't feel till say and then he was like no it' completely fine because i wen through the same thing as you didn't come from a like compute science degree background and s i totally understand wher you're coming from especiall when you're still quite lik early in your career so don' worry too much about it and think it's really nice to hav those like connections with you teammates because it helps yo feel like like you've alread said like less alone and les and more integrated in the tea and i think that is supe important especially in thos first few weeks notice that al sounds fantastic thank you al for sharing that and i thin from all your intervie introductions earlier you're al engineers such as great so i' going to throw this question a you so how scary is it to b introduced to a whole new cod base especially remotely isn' that it's just it's so it's s hard so difficult and i kno personally i'm still like i sai i'm two months into my new rol and i'm still trying t understand all the differen moving pieces and i don't kno like i've been telling myself a like rebecca said that you nee to keep like reminding mysel actually i am new i need to tak it slow there's no pressure o me but i still find myself as type a personality tellin myself you must know it now an it can be quite daunting so wha are the what are some of th things you've all done to mak sure that you know you wer brought up to speed with th code base and all the differen technologies especially i you've not used the technolog befor

Elle:

Yeah for me it was it was really difficult to start with because everything was completely new i started we started with a programming language that i didn't know and it was very very scary to begin with but as i said i had that buddy who was there to help me along and lots of shadowing and pair programming helped me to understand the small part that we were working on but the most difficult bit to understand was how that fits in that how our micro service fits into all of the other micro services that fit together to do what we need them to do and trailing through the any documentation i could find didn't really help and the one thing that i found that was really really useful was i went to every single engineer on my team and just sort of booked a slot in their calendar and was like hey can we just have a chat about things you've worked on previously things you're working on now and your your picture in your head of what our system looks like and anything you foresee that could potentially become an issue in our project coming up and i got like so many different perspectives from all the different engineers and that really helped me sort of form an idea of you know an amalgamation of everybody else's images of what the process and what the systems actually do so helped me think about okay i sort of understand where everything kind of goes and everything sort of fits and how what we're coding right now fits into everything like that it's definitely probably the most confusing thing i tried to try and do over the past few months and i'm still definitely not anywhere near close to understanding everything but sort of speaking to my speaking to the engineers and my team members are also like scrum masters and project managers and business designers all those kind of people they know a lot more about the project that than me as a newbie so they were really helpful in sort of getting that insight

Rebekah:

Yeah so, when you sent through the preliminary questions this is the question that made me laugh because for context my startups engineering team was less than six months old when i joined and we're hiring five people in april and we currently have a team of four so it's like a really really new team so code base is maybe a stretch for what i was given when i joined and no there's i mean there was a lot of stuff there the back end developers obviously created a lot of our internal software and interactions with the cloud i've got loads of stuff there there was obvious like we work a lot of jupyter notebooks and there was a lot of notebooks that have already been created for standard processes and stuff so it wasn't that i kind of started with nothing but a lot of this stuff We're developing for our products is still in movement, I guess. And I'm very much at the heart of that. Now, you know, when I straightaway started, maybe I wasn't, but as soon as I've kind of got to grips with what things are and everything, I'm kind of within that already, which was, again, really, really daunting. I'm a self taught coder, I did a web dev course in 2016. And then, you know, started playing around with Python in my own time, you know, really properly in end of 2019 2020. So very, very new to the languages that I, you know, I've been using SQL, I described it 10, because I knew that that's what data engineers should know, really. So I hadn't actually worked in any of these languages. And I think, whilst the courses that I've been doing on the side, and and had done previous to the job, well, great, nothing prepares you for actually putting it into action, I guess. As you guys know, you never code 100% in one language either. So we deal with knowledge, graphs and graph databases. And we use sparkle for that. And I don't know if any of you ever touch sparkle, but it's not SQL is all I'm saying is not easy. So there was a whole other language that I never even heard of, that I had to then kind of learn about and upskill on. And I think I'm doing that every day. Still, I wouldn't say that I'm done there. But I would echo what l said in terms of reaching out to people, there were points where I knew I could do something in Python, I knew what I was doing would produce the result. But it just looks like a lot of lines. And I kind of sat there and I said to my colleagues, do you mind just going over and seeing if I could make this more efficient, or I'm doing x task? Have you ever done this before. And now that we're onboarding new people in April, as a team, we've got together and gone, here's some useful examples of stuff that they can then use or, you know, one of my colleagues has prepared a code base for them to help them with their first project. So I'm, I'm pulling together all of the stuff from our Bitbucket repo, that's maybe internal things, plus external kind of packages and libraries that where we've signed off and are secure for our company, all of that sort of stuff, I'm documenting it in one place, because that's something that I personally found very difficult to navigate. Especially as someone who only coded for fun, like, I, if I like a developer, I'll probably try out their stuff. Whereas you can't do that in a company, right? It has to be signed off, they have to think that it's secure, that they trust, the source that it's coming from. And so being involved in those conversations, and pulling all of that stuff together, was really useful. And I think half of it was kind of reading the code base and the stuff that was there and half of it was just please, can you look at my stuff and give me honest feedback, or, you know, I'm really stuck on this particular problem. Can we code it together? And yeah, going back to that pair programming thing, I think, is super important. And I hope that I never stopped doing it. Or, you know, even if I'm leading a team, like some, you know, I've, I, I've taught some of my colleagues things, and they've taught me things. And, you know, I'm sure in the future, we've got, like, I wasn't taught coding at school, but children are now. So if I'm leading a team in 1015 years time, I'm going to be leading a team of people who are probably better at coding than me. So that that continues throughout my career. I hope that's, that's not just an onboarding thing, personally.

Sonnie:

I'd say I'm actually very different from from everyone else. So I, when I joined my role, I had a lot of experience doing iOS development. So I did an internship, I wrote my dissertation on that, and stuff. So for me that the challenge wasn't like knowing the language or how to do it, but it was the difference was the scale at which it was being done. So it kind of for reference, we have 30 other iOS engineers that work over various teams. So like all the projects I've made, you know, that pretty small, my internship, it was like a smaller version of their app. So everything was like, you know, you could look over it in like an hour and be like, yeah, this will make sense. But I think even six months in, I'm nowhere close to understanding all of our app and how it's built. So that was the big difference for me, which it was like, right, so I need to change here. Like, where do I even find this in, in my code editor? Because, you know, we have hundreds of 1000s of files, who's like, Where is it? I don't know, who do I ask, what's it called that kind of thing? And it for me, it was kind of learning how to ask questions in a useful way. So I kind of had a hierarchy of the three different levels and one was like, you know, I literally can't do anything. I'm gonna annoy someone right now. The next level down was like, I'll give it 20 minutes. You know, I'll try and understand it, but if not, you know, it's not worthwhile. wasting hours trying to figure out where something is then i lost someone and then i kind of had like a i'm doing fine but why are things this way kind of level which then when i did one on ones with the different people who are responsible for error i could then ask so i kind of had something to talk about so for me it was yeah it was like learning why everything's done so differently because i guess the bigger you get the more kind of processes and kind of architectural decisions are made so yeah that was that was a real adjustment

Pauline Narvas:

Yeah, what you said the va scale just like i r sonate with so much just bec use i went from coding my own small little projects past if y like in my room like you kno doing all that and then whe i got my first tech job the threw me into that massive cod base i was like oh my god let s scrap the whole thing and sta t not as complex but yeah no i t tally get that i think you ve all touched on some rea ly great points here for me per onally i i was given a few tic ets in the backlog that were qui e that covered quite a lot of he different technologies tha i would be using day to day and i had some really great tic ets that they prepped for me and they were like go and do thi it touches on networking whi h i absolutely hate but the e you go have to learn it net orking like how things are dep oyed how our virtual mac ines are orchestrated and and and how our like virtual mac ines are provisioned and stu f like that what tec nologies we'll be using so tha was around like kubernetes som chef networking and dns abs lutely but like it was all of hese like tickets that were exp sed to me that i finally got to rips on like the bits of lik technologies that i need to sor of do a deep dive on in the fut re and now that i've been exp sed to them hopefully the mor i become exposed to them the easier they'd get and ano her thing that helped me a lot when i was being on boarded was the engineers that i worked wit told me to look for clues bef re obviously they were more tha happy to like help me out whe i was really stuck but i thi k they really appreciate tha i'm quite an independent per on so i do like figuring thi gs out myself before asking peo le sometimes way too much som times i can spend hours when i c uld just spend two minutes tal ing to someone but they told me ake sure you look on con luence and confluence is our doc mentation like website think whe e we keep a nice organized som times organized space for all of our documentation of our tec nologies and also on jira so our jira is where we have all of the tickets and stuff i know whe e are all our work is org nized and sometimes some of the stuff that you're looking for or the engineers have done in he past so if you can track bac old work you can then look at he code or the solution that the did and maybe it's a sim lar thing or maybe it's the sam thing and stuff like that so hat was really helpful for me nd sometimes i just spent hou s on like bitbucket reading all the different types of code and seeing how it all fits tog ther and i think that's hel ed me now find out where to go nd you know slowly every sin le day i'm getting a lot bet er with like being up to spe d with the code base and tec nologies so so yeah that's tha 's that question so the next one i'd love to ask you is if you could all go back and do it all over again what is one thing you would do differently. I'll go to you Sonnie first.

Sonnie:

yeah sure, so once i've done all that initial onboarding stuff i had a list of things that you know i could look at if i wanted to so i kind of had a two week period of just like you know you spend this time to figure it out you're not expected to really do anything for your team it's more of a time for you to get comfortable and understand and what i kind of the mistake i did a bit was i picked all the stuff that i knew how to do and was like super confident with us like oh this will make me look really good so i did all that stuff you know you do it quickly everyone's going oh everything's going great but then i kind of i hit the point where i was like i don't know how to do that one i don't know how to do that one i don't know how to do that one and i got a bit not panicky but a bit worried i'm like are they gonna think i'm a bit of a fraud or you know it looked like i was doing really well so i think i would maybe pick the stuff like a good mixture of stuff i find quite comfortable and easy and the stuff that was much harder so that i didn't kind of leave myself all the hard stuff to do at once and you know feel a bit like what what do i do here you know i've just i've got another week left before i do any team work but i've got like five things i don't know how to do yeah and that that freaked me out a bit and then the other thing would be kind of after work i was exhausted because it's just like zoom 24 seven and even then i'd like you know research stuff to see so the next day i don't look stupid or like oh what is this mean you know and i wish i just kind of like left it because in the end after those two weeks i was just exhausted like it just wasn't sustainable and i think if i'd kind of been a bit more deliberate with my time and stuff i would have been a lot less exhausted for the next two weeks after that as i was just really burnt out from like constantly thinking about stuff.

Pauline Narvas:

That's a really good point i think that would be my point as well like it's not worth it my first four weeks i was like constantly trying to keep up with catch up with things and it's absolutely impossible how did i think that i could cram in like i don't know how long the company's been going on for like 20 years worth of stuff into like one month so i look good so yeah i definitely resonate with that and that would be something if i could go back to january i would tell myself just to chill out a bit and you know take it slow i actually got that as feedback from my teammates in my fifth or sixth week they were just like pulling you're doing really well but slow down because we can tell you're like stressing yourself out by picking up like four tickets at once and i was like yeah okay i do need to chill out and now i have i'm taking it nice and slow

Rebekah:

i think we're probably all going to be quite similar here so i was super eager to s art my project work and so it w sn't like i had a set time but i was like do these things and t en you can move to the project w rk but i think in doing that i r ad through loads of d cumentation like we've got our c nference and stuff so read t rough all of that d cumentation like kind of open t ings set things up and then i w s like okay i'm ready to go a d which was really good on the o e hand because i completed my f rst project quite quickly and l arned a lot in that process a d you know luckily didn't have t o many data issues to deal w th and stuff but then my next p oject was a lot more difficult b cause obviously they start you o the easy stuff most of the t me and then when that project c me i had to go back to some of t at beginning learning and r try things i've mentioned s arkle already that was d finitely a weak point and i p obably should have practice t at a little bit more and with o r new onboarding process we've k nd of anticipated that that e eryone's going to come with d fferent knowledge different s ills you know regardless of w ether you've done a boot camp o degree self taught everyone's g t their own kind of strengths i code but also in other a pects of the business and so w 've built that more into the p ocess of people have an u derstanding that they have m re of that time but i yeah i w s just like assigning myself t sk after task trying to get t em done and then you know even i think it was february so that i d been working there for a few m nths i had one week where i w s so overwhelmed with the a ount of tasks i had to do that i wasn't that anyone else was p tting pressure but i was t lking to a colleague and i j st started crying and i was l ke i've got so many tasks and a d he was really kind and he s id okay do you want to work t day and i said yes i just want t get this one task done i've b en working on i just want to d he said okay you focus on t at one task let's assign all o the others and come back t morrow and then we can go t rough what's for you and w at's for other people and that w s really helpful to have p ople that i felt i could i g ess be honest with when that h ppened but if i had done t ings differently i think i w uld have kind of what you guys a e both said is taken my time w th some of those onboarding t sks a little bit more and and n t tried to kind of bear e erything and go look how a azing i am you know try to p ove yourself because they're g ing to see that in your work a yway and they see that even if y u do one task so you don't n ed to take on 20 and i think a so from you know my previous w rkplaces is the same r gardless whether you work in t ch or not if you keep piling s uff on to your play and you k ep doing them that's another t ing that a lot of us do in t ch in particular i've noticed b t across the board as i said i you keep taking on tasks and c mpleting them your team d esn't know that you're burnt o t your team doesn't know that y u're not coping at home they j st think you're really bloody e ficient and so they just go o ay here's a new one here's a n w one here's a new one and you k ep doing them because you t ink you have to do them and t en eventually you do get burnt o t as i have done in my p evious job and you sit and you g i should have spoken up s oner i should have said this i too much before and it's not t kind of put the put the blame o on any of us as individuals b t i do think speaking up and k nd of learning what your c pacity is and giving more room a the beginning because like n w i know six months later i am a le to take on more tasks than i was in november but in those b t i feel like maybe i was t king on more tasks than i do n w somehow it's just like a w ird one but yeah you can't e pect your team also to call y u out you have to kind of v ice that yourself and i think i wasn't doing that at the b ginning and yeah getting a bit b tter at doing that now i think.

Elle:

For me it was it was definitely more of like a day to day thing so i completely agree with sort of taking things way too fast and assigning myself work and putting that pressure to perform every day as much as i could and for me that was even to the point where i really wish looking back to september that i just stepped away from the computer more often you know there were days when i first started where i would i literally not moved from my desk the whole day nine to five aside from lunch gotta have my food but not taking any comfort breaks not standing up going for a walk going to get a drink really took its toll physically because i was putting all that pressure on myself to as you both said to perform and to try and prove to everybody that i am a good developer and look like you hired me i'm really good this is why you hired me but it's not it's not productive it's not efficient to force yourself you know never never take your eyes away from the screen and i definitely caught myself doing that so often and i'm really trying now to get into the habit of taking those brakes and making sure that i split my day up with you know going outside and everything like that having a walk in and stretching just from from not sitting in my chair all day but i wish that i'd started that in september because it is something that you've got to build up it's a habit that you've got to get yourself into and i wish i'd started that back then because now i've got to work on it with the repercussions of eyestrain and getting headaches and staring at a street screen all day it's really really not could be

Pauline Narvas:

I totally get that like my first month i had a horrible migraine just almost every single week just because i do exactly what you described i just sit here and try and learn as much as possible and just stare at the screen i felt like i didn't even blink at some points but you know that's how extreme it was but yeah no that's some really great great like learnings there and my final question while time has flown by so quickly i could talk to you all like forever to be honest but my last question for you all is if you know someone is listening to this right now and they've just started their new job remotely what is one key actionable advice that you would tell them to you know hit the ground running but also like have that more sustainable approach towards you know onboarding remotely

Rebekah:

So we've talked a lot about kind of on the job stuff and coding and all of those that learning and but i would say my one piece of advice is much more personable and because remember you know people say this all the time but we're at work more than we're at home we talked to our colleagues more than most other people and so even though you're remote even though you're chatting on on video chat on calls or you know on your slack channel g g chat whatever be the truest version of yourself that you can be i do not want my colleagues to have a heart attack when they realize how extroverted and loud i am when we move back to the office together so i'm vocal on calls i messaged them a lot i speak out about things i engage with topics because if we were in the office and i heard someone chatting in the kitchen about you know love ireland or like love is blind or whatever other reality crap tv that i watch i would be in the kitchen talking to them so if i see in the chat i instantly reply you know so being the truest version of yourself so that your colleagues can get to know you it's kind of good for them so they can you can build your friendships and they can learn a bit about you but also for yourself so that you don't feel self conscious again when we then move into the office and we're starting this whole process again because it is nerve racking like i've met one of my colleagues for a walk when we had a bit of a window in between knock downs and we just happen to live close by but the rest of them i've not met them in person so they've got no idea what rebecca is like in person and i don't want that to be a shock so i've tried to be as as open as possible about who i am as much as i can on online and in our meetings and in our calls and not kind of hold back parts of my personality that i know i would share at work if that makes sense so that would be my biggest advice is don't hold back on yourself because they hired you for you whatever you put forward in that interview process and they're going to have to work with you in the office soon this is not going to be forever for all of us So try and put that across as much as you can. Whether it's informal, formal, however you choose to present at work, but try, try and be the truest version of yourself. That would be my advice.

Elle:

I completely agree with with what Rebekah said. And also my point would definitely be On a similar note. And one thing that I would definitely give advice to anybody else is something that I wish I did more is is meeting your colleagues and get to know them. I was so shy when I first started because I'd never met anyone, it was all online. And it was really, I found it quite difficult to make that time to be sociable when it's all on on teams or on slack. And it's quite difficult, you have to physically reach out to somebody to then get that time to meet them. But that is so important. And it's just like getting your name in someone else's calendar is a really good thing, because you get to meet them, you get to know what they're like, you get a little bit of insight into their life, or just a nice chart. And then something I found this really nice. The one of my team members suggested was just, you know, if you, if you've got some free time, and you want to chat, just just call me, or you know, having a little window open in your calendar of like, I'm going to be free. And this is not work time, or I'm going to work on something. But I don't mind if you want to come and have a chat, it's just nice to have that time dedicated to meeting those people. Because, as you say, I've not met any of my co workers at all, ever. So it's difficult to form those, those relationships and that working that working bond that you have, when everything's online. And so for me, definitely number one tip would be to get to know your your colleagues and get to know everybody or as many people as you can, in a way you're working just to make new friends, but also to feel more comfortable, feel more closely aligned to the company. And it sounds a bit like cliche, but but networking can be really, really useful when you're inside your company as well, just to get to know more people and learn so many more things from so many different areas.

Sonnie:

So for me, the biggest thing that helped was setting expectations, whether it's with my manager with with team members and stuff. So like when you're in an office, it's really easy to see, oh, it's five o'clock, people are leaving, I can leave or like something like that. But where are you online? Like the first day I saw like, on Slack, people's green bubbles was still there. I'm like, can I go? Is this you know, am I leaving way too early? So like, I talked to my manager, and I was like, you know, like, Can I just finish at this time? Like, yeah, that's fine. And then after that might take that time, I'm fine to leave, and stuff like that. And then, you know, it was like, all my hours flexible. So I'm way more of a morning person to some mornings, like I'd rather just get up, but like, get it get my workday done. So is that fine? Is it not? And, you know, found out that it was so stuff like that has made my working life much more comfortable. And I don't really like worried like, Oh, you know, it's not going to be alright. So like, even this is similar to like the self care stuff, like, I'm perfectly fine to go take a half hour walk in the middle of the day, I asked him like, you know, is that fine? It's fine. And now I can do things like that which which make my working days much more enjoyable. And so I'm not just sat at a desk, because I guess in offices, you know, you go talk to people, you go get coffee, and stuff, but it's way it's way, way too easy just to sit at your laptop all day not talk to anyone and be like, what have I done today? Just type clearly. And it's just not as fulfilling for me. It's more fun than you know, when you've talked to people you've chatted, you know, maybe it wasn't that productive. But you know, those personal relationships are just as important. Because you never know, when you'll get volunteered for something when Oh, he can do that. I heard about that. And then, you know, suddenly you get a new opportunity from it.

Pauline Narvas:

So true!

Rebekah:

Yeah, back both of you with that, because one thing that we started chatting about in our team is a lot of us have interests that they're not, not our job role, but they're kind of like sideways. So obviously, a lot of you if you follow me online and stuff will know that I'm a massive cloud enthusiast. And I like really kind of getting into my learning in the in the cloud space, which is vast. But when I started my job, I've applied to one thing, and it's not that it doesn't interact with the cloud. But what I want to do is more than that, and so now my colleagues know. So then in the future, when projects come up, they're like, Oh, we have someone who's interested. So I completely agree with what both of you guys have said. And the expectations thing is really important because my old workplace and my current workplace working style and formalities is completely different. So you can't like assume that it's the same. So yeah, I like both of those advices are really, really good.

Pauline Narvas:

Yeah, definitely setting those. Making sure that you understand the expectations is super important. Because if you don't ask and you don't know You can sometimes drive yourself crazy. You could just be sitting there like, Oh, I need to be glued to my desk I need to have I need to be online. And you know, when I first started, I also had the same worries and I ended up bringing it up with my manager, because sometimes my laptop with would auto lock if I just really wanted to go downstairs to pick up a pass or something. And then I'd panic. I'd be like running up the stairs, like I need to go back because they'll see but my slack green status has gone off. Yeah, but no one actually cares. And you know, it's pretty flexible. But yeah, that is definitely super important both ways. But yet, we've actually come to the end of this episode. And I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everyone who has joined us Sonnie, Elle, Rebekah, you've g ven all of us, me and the l steners today some great advic on you know, remote onboardin , and I hope that you know, I w sh them all the best of luck n their own journeys. And that is it for this episode! If you want to continue our conversation on this topic, let's do it. You can find me on social media on twitter @paulienuh, on Instagram at @paw.lean and on my blog, 'pawlean.com.' If you found that episode insightful consider supporting me you can do so over on my support page where you can share my content, buy me a burrito, send me Bitcoin, use my affiliate links and more. Check it out at pawlean.com/support-me. Thanks again for listening, sending you all happy, healthy, positive vibes as always, and I'll see you in the next one. Bye!

Introduction - Today's topic
An introduction on today's guests - Sonnie, Elle and Rebekah
What was the initial hour leading up to logging in online like? What structure was in place for you, if any?
What were the things that helped you onboard remotely? What did you do? What did the company do?
Engineers - how scary is it to be introduced to a new codebase especially remotely!! What are some things that you did to make sure that you were brought up to speed with the codebase and technologies?
If you could go back and do it again, what would you do differently?
If someone listening to this has just started their job remotely, what is ONE key actionable advice that you would tell them to hit the ground running?
Conclusion - thanks & support!