Transition to a Remote Company: Step 1- Update your Hiring and Onboarding Processes
In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Lawline employees, like much of the world, abruptly stopped working in their downtown NYC office and started working remotely from their homes. By the end of the year, our CEO David Schnurman along with the rest of the leadership team made the decision that we would remain remote permanently. This piece is the first in our series “Transition to a Remote Company” which will document the steps involved in a successful remote transition and this article will focus on the updates we had to make to our hiring and onboarding processes.
The first update we needed to make was in our interview process. Our traditional interview process consisted of a phone interview and then an in person “chronological interview” with 2 or more team members reviewing the candidate’s historical work experience. Thereafter, we held an in-person “focused” interview with about 6 team members and the candidate, where we split into 2 groups and honed in on the candidates’ experience as it related to the outcomes and competencies of the role. Finally, we often scheduled a coffee or lunch with other team members and/or the hiring manager to determine how the candidate fit into our culture in a less formal setting.
With some trial and error, we have achieved a new streamlined hiring process that allows us to understand our candidates’ work history, experience with the goals of the applicable scorecard and whether they embrace our Core Values of Care, Create Act, Grow, and Play. The modifications also allowed us to avoid zoom fatigue and be more respectful of our team member’s time, especially when many are continuing to juggle pandemic related child care responsibilities. The interview process now begins with a 20 minute zoom interview with the candidate and a member of our recruiting team. By switching from phone to zoom, we are able to better connect with the individual and pick up on helpful non verbal communication. Before the next round of zoom interviews, we give the candidate an assignment which will demonstrate the skills needed in the position. Examples of this include, depending on the position, emails to customers; a coding exercise; or creating the outline for a new CLE program. Only those who successfully complete these exercises make it to the next zoom interview, which usually decreases the number of candidates by at least 30 percent. The next 90 minute zoom interview is a combination of our previous chronological and focused rounds, and typically involves a hiring manager, the head of the People function, and one other teammate. By the end of the discussion, there is typically enough data to determine whether the candidate would be a good fit and how they compare to other candidates for the role. The head of People then calls all of the candidate’s references and at that point, an offer may be made. If there are any lingering questions on either side, there will be a final zoom “coffee” with the hiring manager and the candidate.
The next update was to adjust our onboarding process. At the office we had a 2 week onboarding program that included flowers and chocolates on the new hire’s desk upon arrival, catered breakfasts and lunch at downtown restaurants with different team members from all departments. The first thing we did was send all new hires welcome packages including delicious coffee, treats, hot chocolate and cookies. We then created a schedule that included daily morning check-ins with members of the People function and zoom sessions with team members of all functions so they could learn about the legal industry, the details of all of our departments and most importantly meet the team. In order to continue to connect on a more fun personal level during onboarding, we scheduled team events such as book clubs, halloween dress up gatherings and gingerbread house decorating parties. Finally, we paired each new hire with a “buddy” from another department who they meet with weekly for the 1st 3 months and then monthly thereafter. Furthermore, we are updating the process to feature pre-recorded overviews of the industry and departments to allow for more social events with our team, such as “coffees” where everyone gets a starbucks gift card and lunches where everyone involved gets a “seamless” gift card.
We have been thrilled with how all of our new hires in our Customer Service, Web Development, and Business Operations functions have been killing it in meeting the outcomes and competencies on their scorecards, living our Core Values, and connecting with all of our team members. We often forget that we have not actually met them in person. Similarly, the feedback from our new hires on the updates to our hiring and onboarding processes has been overwhelmingly positive. Below are some of their comments:
The term "onboarding process" had been thrown around a lot when I had started other jobs but it was something everyone always seemed to assume would just happen naturally without being planned or structured in any way. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect from all the Zoom meetings and presentations but they were very educational and I was struck by how welcoming and supportive everyone was. I felt like I had a good sense of the organization early on by interacting with many different team members from various departments, each offering crash courses in their various functions.” - Michael Sullivan, Web Developer
I think the first day and the first week exceeded my expectations of working fully remote at the new company. Everyone on the team was welcoming and friendly and it made my transition smooth. We have never met in person, but I feel connected to the team.” - Lana Glacken, Customer Support Representative
My first day was filled with presentations and learning about the company. I thought I was going to jump right into work like I have with every role I had before. At Lawline, they teach you about what they do and every department so that you get a clear understanding of the company as a whole. I appreciated that a lot and made me excited to be a part of such a great team. Anna Abitino, Business Operations Coordinator
In addition to our recent hires, Lawline intends to add at least 10 new additional remote team members in 2021. Moreover, we will continue to improve upon our hiring, onboarding and other processes to make the remote experience the most valuable possible for our new and current employees. Future articles in the Transition to Remote Company series will include: Step 2: Maintaining a Strong Company Culture while Remote; and Step 3: Setting up the Backend Operations for a Successful Remote Company.