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Remote Onboarding New Employees: An Inside Look at Day One at Automox

Automox’s remote-first culture is redefining how our teams work – and it starts on day one. “Onboarding is a pivotal moment in the employee experience,” said HR Generalist Ashlyn McKesson. “In many respects, new employees’ onboarding sets the tone for their career with Automox.”

Automox transitioned to a fully distributed workforce in March 2020 during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. This shift allowed us to open our doors to employees across the U.S., expanding teams to more than a dozen states by the end of year. By the summer of 2021, our employees were located in 37 states across the country.

From creating meaningful connections to streamlining communication, our HR operations team has optimized every step of the process to create a stellar first impression for new employees regardless of their location.

Creating connection

“Since we’re a fully remote and fully distributed company, our onboarding experience aims to provide ample opportunities for our new hires to interact with other employees,” McKesson said. The onboarding process is designed to empower employees to create genuine connections across the company and gear up to do impactful work.

McKession said a meaningful part of onboarding is the Buddy program. Each new hire is paired with another Automox employee who welcomes them via email before their start date and meets with them for a virtual lunch during their first week at work. The Buddy program creates an early connection with a teammate or cross-functional coworker who can answer questions and provide insight into the company culture.

“I think the ‘buddy system’ is great. I always ask a ton of questions so it was nice to have someone I didn't feel bad interrupting all the time.” - Lauren W., Engineering

Cohorts are encouraged to get to know each other in the #new-hires-on-the-block Slack channel, where they are welcomed with kind words and gifs. The channel, which includes HR staff and tenured employees, has a “no question too big or too small” policy. It’s a safe space for employees to seek guidance around anything from benefits to company lingo.

Every other Friday, we host a company-wide welcome lunch for new employees. The highlight of the welcome lunch is Two Truths and a Lie, a game where new hires share three statements about themselves. Did your new teammate escape a shark attack, nearly hit Steve Jobs with their car, or join the NSA to look for aliens? You’ll find out on Friday!

Virtual bonding is important, but can only go so far in creating real connection. That’s why in-person team and company-wide events are a regular part of the Automox calendar, too. As travel restrictions begin to lift, teams across the company will have the opportunity to gather together and get to know each other face to face.

Building a career highlight

We lay the groundwork for a great experience for employees from the moment they join. Every onboarding cohort starts on a Thursday, which gives new hires the weekend to recharge so they can hit the ground running during their first full week.

“I really liked the timing with starting on a Thursday so I wasn’t overwhelmed with a full first week.” - Emily J., Sales

HR Operations Manager Elspeth Arnold said she wants employees to feel like working at Automox is a highlight of their career. “We aim to provide extraordinary communication and generate excitement during our onboarding process,” Arnold said. “We try to understand what a new hire is likely feeling and experiencing at each point in the process and then tailor our communication based on how we want them to feel and what they’ll need at each stage.”

“I had everything I needed which made getting up and running super easy and quick. Overall the experience was super smooth and welcoming.” - Amy H., Marketing

This includes dedication to building inclusivity into each and every aspect of the onboarding experience. “It is something we will never be done with,” Arnold said. “We will always be learning and improving on ways to be inclusive from the first moment a candidate learns about Automox.”

According to Arnold, the most important part of onboarding is simple. “It’s giving our new team members what they need when they need it,” she said. “We try to take out the uncertainty an employee experiences on their first day as much as possible.” Detailed organization and an airtight approach to IT help new employees trust that they can be successful in a remote work setting.

“Automox’s onboarding was one of the most well organized and coordinated processes I've had the pleasure of experiencing.” - Jeff S., Sales

Remote-first, forever

A remote-first mindset is truly the cornerstone of evolving the way we work and succeed. By challenging the status quo of traditional office spaces, we are able to attract top talent and build diverse, productive teams, regardless of location. “This infusion of so many different life experiences allows us to constantly ask new questions and improve our business,” McKesson said.

Arnold said Automox’s core company values are behind her desire to continue iterating and improving the onboarding process. “We follow our values by being humble in our approach. We change our behaviors and language based on feedback from candidates and new hires.” With this perspective, onboarding is a living process that will continue to evolve with our growing company.

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Automox List of Company Values
Automox's Company Values

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