How WhatsApp is rising to the challenge of remote onboarding
The shift to remote onboarding has created unforeseen challenges for so many companies. As Paul explains, this requires a mixture of flexibility and determination.
“It’s different, for sure,” says Paul. “We’re trying to nail down our messaging around WhatsApp culture and what it means for our new starters. We’re also managing a lot of environmental circumstances we’ve never had to contend with before, such as family, pets, caring for loved ones, dealing with IT issues.”
This isn’t just about offering short-term support, either. “As soon as people leave orientation, they start to get into the functional training of their roles,” says Paul. “We’re looking at how we support them two, three, or six months down the line. Industry-wide, no one’s done this in a remote environment before. There’s no playbook.”
A key part of this ongoing support? Knowing how to make culture real for new starters.
Related: 6 Steps to a Great Remote Onboarding Process - and What to Avoid
Putting culture down on paper
So much of workplace culture comes down to the physical things. How do people greet each other in the mornings? How do they respond to new ideas in group discussion? And how do they make newcomers feel welcome?
As Paul explains, remote onboarding requires companies to be clear and explicit about their culture. “Now, we’re quantifying exactly what the WhatsApp culture is on paper. This is a shared process, which is why we offer touchpoints with leadership, hiring managers, and support teams.”
And as part of the Facebook family, new starters at WhatsApp have a wider set of orientation to complete, too. “Our learners go through Facebook orientation, but each of our teams has its own flavor and culture in terms of the overall Facebook mission, which is connecting the world. We link the values and missions of the WhatsApp product to the Facebook product, and show how we’re catering for different types of users.”
The key thing, according to Paul? Make culture clear and concrete.
“We want to be crisp and clear about what it means to think globally,” says Paul. “That’s an important value for WhatsApp. We focus on clear examples, so it isn’t just hyperbole. We want to make our culture concrete, with clear ideas and stories.”
“User 101” - Giving new starters user perspective
One of the hardest things in a remote learning environment is giving new starters a clear perspective on user needs. Paul’s team has developed a great solution to this problem.
“The coolest change we’ve made is the partnership with our field research team. Now, after a new hire completes orientation, they’re enrolled in what we’re calling User 101. We’ve developed this with our research team, which is facilitated by research subject matter experts.”