ArticleFebruary 2, 2021 · 4 min read time
The basis for Nitor’s growth has always been good recruitment and the way new employees will instantly feel like a full member of our work community. In 2020, the recruitment and orientation of most new Nitor employees was done remotely. As always, our values of being agile, pragmatic, and unified helped in taking on this challenge. Read more about Okko’s experience as a new Nitor employee in the pandemic year 2020.
Often, changing jobs is stressful. You have to survey companies that you find interesting, get your CV in order and write applications. Typically, recruitment will also entail interviews, assignments, and maybe even psychological tests.
The pandemic introduced new uncertainties to changing jobs. Should I be changing now? Which companies will thrive, which will reduce their number of employees? If I start a new job remotely, can I truly get into the company culture?
Despite these questions, in the exceptional circumstances of spring 2020, I decided to approach Nitor and apply for the position of Fullstack Developer. I am the first Nitor employee to be recruited and oriented fully remotely.
The recruitment phase
Getting to the talks with Nitor started was easy. A light free-form application was enough to get the ball rolling and I received a prompt reply. Each interview and finally presenting the job offer were conducted remotely with a video connection. I felt it was actually easier to attend job interviews in the peace of my own home instead of having to travel to a meeting in the middle of the day. No hands were shaken as we finalised my employment contract with a digital signature a couple of weeks after my initial application.
If I was to describe Nitor’s recruitment process in a word, I would choose conversational. At Nitor, personal discussions are emphasised in the application process and all of my questions were answered. The discussions were aimed at determining my skills and way of working as a consultant. My work experience was valued and there were no formal tests or exercises.
First steps at the new job
After signing the employment contract, I was instructed to write up a shopping list of the equipment I would need in my work. A courier brought all the equipment to my doorstep the week before I was to start working. I was ready to start my first day of work – at home.
During the first days, a team of five oriented me in Nitor’s practices via a video connection. Nitor has very few strict guidelines and even fewer rules (I hear you are not allowed to climb to the roof of the building from the roof terrace and going to the nearby bars in a Nitor bathrobe is forbidden). As such, the orientation focused on Nitor’s culture, values and practices. My questions were almost systematically answered with “you can decide for yourself according to your and Nitor’s best interest”.
I noticed already during the orientation that I would be given a say on shared matters. I was encouraged to include my own observations, questions, and the answers I got in the orientation materials available in the internal wiki. So I updated the written orientation materials as I went through them myself, making sure that the next person to start would have the most up to date information available to them.
Being a part of a remote work community
Nitor’s work community has included me since day one, and I mainly stay connected with other Nitoreans via our virtual communities and digital communication tools. I have listened to Lightning Talks and Frontend Forum presentations and attended Nitor's annual strategy workshop, Crystal Ball. Over the last seven months, I have met very few Nitor employees face-to-face, even though I have already participated in Nitor’s spring and Christmas parties (where I especially enjoyed the live-streamed gigs of Finnish leading artists).
Despite all of the above, I do feel very much at home at Nitor. I have also been acknowledged by Nitor employees, most of whom I have never even met face-to-face. Nitor Recognition is a bonus that any Nitor employee can recommend for a colleague for work well done. I got a Nitor Recognition on my very first week! Other Nitor employees must also feel that I have integrated well because in December they elected me as the health and safety representative.
Tips for starting in a new job remotely
Getting oriented to a new job requires effort because in remote work you have to actively keep in touch with others. Below are some of my tips:
Keep your camera on in remote meetings. It makes it easier for others to get to know you and they are also more likely to keep their cameras on.
Don’t be shy to start two- or three-person video calls when you need to go through tasks, do reviews, or need to brainstorm solutions.
Screen sharing is an easy way to do pair coding and reviews.
Be available in the online channels and if you are away indicate it in your status.
Music brings people together. Share links or play music when waiting for other people to attend a video meeting.
Don’t forget humour even when working remotely.