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How Moccu built a successful remote employee onboarding program

Moccu's remote employee onboarding program is aimed at making an employee's first weeks as easy and warm as possible.

This author found Kathrin Köhler, Experience Design Director (UI) at Moccu, in an old-fashioned manner - through Google search as opposed to ChatGPT. Kathrin’s “Remote employee onboarding plan” Miro board, aimed at onboarding new design teammates,  is a part of the Miroverse.

A screenshot of Moccu's "Remote Employee Onboarding Plan" Miro board.

Moccu is a Berlin-based UX agency. In the process of getting to know Kathrin, this author also discovered that they were birthday twins so this article about Kathrin’s remote onboarding plan for designers came to seem almost like destiny.

Why did you decide to create this board?

I had a special challenge in 2020: 3 new employees started in my team within a short time, while everyone was forced to stay home because of a Covid lockdown. I’d already performed several employee onboarding programs while we were working in the office so I had even shared an internal checklist to make sure we split tasks easily within the team and nothing is forgotten. However because we switched to remote work with little to no warning and were no longer in the same room, I had to think of a tighter process.

The hurdle for a new employee to reach out to someone through Slack or telephone is much bigger than simply waiting for a favorable moment in order to walk over to the neighboring desk and speak.

At first, this process was only in my head and I intuitively put together a plan for how to make our life easier. Because there were 3 employees in a row in a very short time span, I was able to optimize the process quickly. Our HR department has a fully fleshed-out process for all new Moccu team members and a part of it includes feedback on the process itself.

So word got around pretty quickly that things were going well for our team even though we had to switch to remote employee onboarding as well. That’s how I came to create the Miro board so that the rest of the company could follow my process. After some time, I realized that what is useful for us might also be useful for other design teams so I published it on the Miro platform.

How do you scale employee onboarding even as you grow the team and still make it feel personal?

I am a big fan of knowledge sharing so I made sure everyone on my team knows the employee onboarding process. All the details including why I defined which step so that they are able to modify it on the fly if they have the task of welcoming a new employee.

We also talked a lot within the team about roles for different experience levels which makes it much clearer which responsibilities each employee can take over. For example, Hendrik, one of my colleagues, was responsible for onboarding 2 new team members but he was on holiday during their first few days and I had a big project at that time so I couldn’t take over as well.

He found a perfect solution for it - he took the template and modified the process. He asked Hannes and Isi (2 other wonderful team members) to help him out with the “Welcome Appointment” session and explain the basics and I took over the first weekly checkout to identify if there are any obstacles that must be removed. It worked very well and there was no friction, until he was back from his holiday.

As for the personal touch, at Moccu, we have a system of jour fixe appointments which are a combination of bi-weekly 1:1s and weekly team meetings. During my time as a leader, I have learned that it helps when I give each appointment a purpose. The weekly team meetings for example are for organizational tasks, team development and vision, best practice & knowledge sharing, and anything which is urgent.

The 1:1s are for personal exchanges and individual professional development. In addition, we have a weekly upskill meeting, which is our room to breathe and to learn new things which we need for our daily business (for example new prototyping hacks, trying out new tools, etc.) These appointments are fixed blocks in our capacity planning, which makes it nearly impossible to lose the personal touch.

How do you infuse the employee onboarding process with the company’s culture code and values?

I always try to describe Moccu as clearly as possible within the interview process, because everyone has different expectations about a company. It is very important to be as transparent as possible to the candidate with respect to what they will sign up for.

It also saves me time and effort as well because I can be sure that the new employee knows the advantages and disadvantages of our culture and ways of working and is still curious enough to give it a try. Then the trial period has no surprises and we can focus on simply working together.

Thomas Walter, one of the three managing directors of Moccu, is also developing a culture guide for the company. It will be published soon and is meant to help to sharpen the picture a bit more. He told me that it was an interesting journey for him as well to be forced to bring the values to paper and reflect on our efforts to build a functional work environment to maintain and grow this culture.

How would you recommend companies think about offboarding, employee onboarding’s mirror companion?

The Moccu offboarding flow was designed by the Human Resources Management team. They created a process that, in addition to the formalities, includes a long exit interview between HR team and employee. The purpose is, to learn what we can improve as a company in the future.

Knock on wood, I haven’t had any offboardings in my team in the last 3 years and I hope we will stay a bit longer together in this constellation, because I am blessed to be surrounded by 5 amazing, very talented, and the most wonderful teammates. If the time comes for me to say goodbye to one of them, I am sure that I will create a Miro board for this process as well.

In the past, I had “goodbye talks” with departing team members. Preferably with lunch, as the atmosphere is much nicer than in the office.

I am always curious about what the plans are for the future and it is a good occasion to ask for feedback, because you will never get a more honest answer as a superior, than in that moment when someone has decided to move on. We have some rituals in the team as well, which I really like. We don’t let someone leave without a personal gift from the team and we brainstorm to make sure we get them a good gift.

If you could recreate that board today, what would you add?

  1. I realized that just a welcome text is not enough for Slack. We have a lot of Slack channels and the description is missing for which channels we are in and for what kind of exchanges we use it.
  2. It is on my to-do list to go through our internal Slack channels and write a proper channel description. The welcome message will be extended with a short note where you can find this channel description.
  3. I also would love to extend the employee onboarding process to include our upskill documentation. We always record our learning sessions so that Maggie, our student team member, who doesn’t join the sessions because she doesn’t work on Fridays, can watch them later on demand. These upskill videos are pretty handy, if a new team member needs to learn about a specific topic we went through together.

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