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1stweek

How Will Your First Week At Monterail Look? — The Onboarding Process

There I was, taking a month off after I quit a job at a dynamic startup, trying to figure out where to apply next. I was sceptical about IT companies and reluctant to engage in futile job interviews, until a good friend of mine recommended Monterail. I finally sent the CV, and after a few days I was invited to an interview. Two weeks later, here I am, writing this blog post as a marketing team member.

Before I started my first day at the Monterail office I was probably as insecure as most new joiners, with questions piling up in my head: What will happen? Who will I meet? Should I bring my own lunch? Silly as those doubts may seem, the same might be running through your head the night before your first week at a new company.

To dispel your doubts, I decided to illustrate the onboarding process you’ll experience at Monterail. I did it after consulting Kasia – our HR specialist – and 3 other colleagues whose onboarding took place in parallel with mine. Hope this article will help you understand what will happen during the first days at Monterail and you’ll know what to expect coming here.

The Introduction

I’m sure everyone appreciates written instructions. I surely did when I received a welcome email a couple of days before my first day at Monterail. It consisted of a plan for my 1st day at work. Not only did I immediately learn how incredibly polite Monterail crew were on the phone and live, but I also got to discover that they were very thoughtful. 

The email said:

“Your first day at Monterail will be rather informal. It’s time for you to get familiar with our company culture, our workflow, tools and applications. You will meet our crew, have an office tour and we’ll help you with whatever you’ll need. We’ve also planned a lunch break and a Q&A session for you.

Your desk and hardware you selected are already waiting for you. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to drop me a line or call me.
Have a nice weekend and see you on Monday—can’t wait to welcome you!

My best,
Kasia”

And there was more to come.

DAY 1

Let me give you a piece of advice: dress comfortably. (At Monterail we don’t have a dress code, but you probably already noticed that at your job interview.) Whatever you wear, make sure you feel good. With this attitude you can easily start the new amazing adventure.

On entering the office you’ll be greeted by Robert or Kamila, our office team members. If you still have some time, it’s a good idea to wait in the canteen. That’s what I did, keeping in mind that the best parties take place in the kitchen. I noticed three people who were supposed to start work on the same day. They were Wiki (HR Specialist), Rafał (Junior Backend Developer), and Janek (Junior JS Developer).

Kasia (HR): We usually organize group onboardings but if you start on your own, you will go through the very same onboarding process, but your meetings will be 1-on-1.

10:00 a.m. — Let’s start

I was expecting a typical welcome procedure: a quick meeting with an HR person, OHS training, getting access links, and off to work at the desk. But then I saw my calendar filled with meetings. Just see for yourself:

A preview of the onboarding process at Monterail

A preview of my calendar

The first welcome meeting was led by Marta from HR who introduced us to our new email accounts and calendars. Then something absolutely outstanding happened — we took part in an all hands weekly roundup in our beautiful amphitheater. During these meetings people exchange all important information from their areas of work. Everyone can take the floor, even if you are remote (pun intended).

Kasia (HR): Roundups allow for top level of information sharing. You can immediately see how many we are, see the scale of the company, and feel a part of it. We do not only discuss projects there, but we also mention important after-work initiatives.

After a couple of more meetings during which we were familiarized with the Monterail way of design, QA and development, we went on to discover the office and our desks.

1:00 p.m. — The office tour

The office is quite large and takes up two floors, but don't worry, there’s a map. And plant walls, and many windows letting sunshine through. The office is not a heartless open space with wall-to-wall carpets and crazy air conditioning. It has surprising little accents making your days just a little bit brighter. Isn’t this how user-friendly design should work?

With enough space for everyone, extra cozy nooks equipped with soft armchairs, and well-equipped conference rooms, this is, by far, the best designed office I have ever worked in.

Wiki: I like our cozy chill room. What a great idea! It lets you work in a comfortable armchair or on a sofa.

Janek: What I love about the office is that you enter a conference room and everything works: the projector, the TV, the speaker, the charger, the cameras and mics. No cable bundles, no looking for markers. The rooms are equipped with everything you need.

Green area in the Monterail office A quiet place to work and relax.

DAY 2 & 3 - meetings

I knew what to expect of the second day: more knowledge. We learned a lot about Scrum and Agile methodologies, project management and a lot more; about the processes, tools used and the connections between departments. Everyone at Monterail — from office managers to developers — was extremely polite and professional, answering all of our questions with utmost patience and engagement.

Janek: The first week at Monterail is meetings. They are great for meeting people you don’t have a chance to come across during your everyday work. Later on, you can easily recognize them when you see them in the office.

After the second day of the onboarding meetings I started wondering what are the odds you find so many cool people and make them work in your company? I tell you how Monterail did it. It must have been the co-founders who started it.

Actually, at Monterail you will meet the co-founders in person, and — I know it for a fact — there’s no need to be afraid of talking to them about literally anything. At one of onboarding sessions, Szymon and Bartosz talked about the idea behind starting Monterail, how and why it grew, the values they believe in, and the direction they want to go in. The honesty of this meeting, the openness, the human approach and simple human to human relation — it is the key to building such an amazing team of software enthusiasts.

Wiki: My favorite onboarding meeting was the projects overview and the meeting with co-founders. I liked hearing the history of the company and the way they told it. It wasn’t a PR talk, but a very natural way of conveying the company’s values and why people are important. You don't need to be afraid to approach them, they are a part of the team as much as everyone else is!

The onbroading process at Monterail  - meeting with co-founders

A sneak peek of a meeting with Szymon, one of the co-founders (first on the left)

Days 4 & 5

The next days were devoted to the team and projects I would work with. I had sessions with all of my teammates, learning the ins and outs of the tools they use. Of course, there were still more general meetings.

Hard to believe as it may seem, all of those trainings (yes, even the Jira one) were very interesting. Did I think I needed that knowledge? No really. Did it open my eyes to how the company functions, what it does and how it does it? Hell yeah. During those first couple of days you learn everything about the projects Monterail works on, the methodology, the tools, and — most importantly — about the people.

The scheduled part of the onboarding ended, but Kasia told me that actually my onboarding is an ongoing process. Integration with the company’s operation and the colleagues, working out how company’s values work in reality and bonding with other people—this takes much more than a week and it may even take up to three months.

4 important onboarding facts

Maybe meetings with lots of people is something you actually expect, but there’s more to how Monterail makes onboarding unique and easy to go through. And it actually surprised me a lot more than meeting slots.

1. You will have a Mentor.

During the first days at Monterail you also get to meet your Mentor, who usually is your superior (luckily, we don’t use this phrase here!). The Mentor will tell you how the team works, what tools they use, and will provide any assistance you might need to start working comfortably.

2. You will have a paper guide.

Ah, yes, the Handbook. What’s in it? Well, everything. It is a map and a guide. Of the office, of the procedures, of the etiquette, the values, and the How to Monterail. Very handy. Once you open the Handbook, you should read it thoroughly (a couple of times) and keep it safe for future reference. It might answer a lot of your potential questions.

3. You will learn a lot.

During the first week you probably won’t be fully ready to jump into projects, so enjoy this time of getting to know the company and people. Focus on learning the basics and then, prepare yourself for new, exciting tasks.

Janek: Nobody puts you on the spot on your first days. You don’t have to show off what you can do. It is Monterail that shows you what they do.

4. You will love the kitchen.

Coffee, free fruit, cakes, teas and other treats — that’s not all that attracts people to the heart of the office. Here you can also relax, sit at the large table and socialize with colleagues. According to the vast majority of newcomers, it quickly becomes their favorite spot in the whole office.

Janek: Here you can sit down peacefully with your laptop, have a proper lunch break and a nice chat with colleagues at the same time. The place has a warm, homey atmosphere to it.

Kitchen in the Monterail office

Monterail’s kitchen

The onboarding from an HR perspective

In most companies I know, the onboarding process isn’t so sophisticated, so I asked Kasia, my HR buddy, how the process was developed. This is what she said:

The onboarding process was introduced before the HR department even existed. Kasia Tatomir, who was back then the Head of Project Management, prepared a Trello board, which she could share with a specific mentor. The mentor could easily introduce any new developer to his or her workplace, tools and processes. At first, the meetings were purely position-related. Later on, we added more general topics. We also made some technical meetings optional for people who won’t need them on their positions. Otherwise, the process is identical for every new employee in Monterail.

Over the course of time, the HR onboarding has evolved. New meetings were added, useful documents were created and a lot of ideas were conceived with the purpose of making people immediately feel at home.

It’s an almost well-rounded process. I said almost because it’s currently being evaluated with the use of the Event Storming technique. It allows us to map all needs of new employees and adjust the process accordingly. So the current shape might slightly alter but the purpose will always remain the same:

Kasia (HR): The purpose of the onboarding process is for every new person to feel part of the team as fast as possible, to recognize our employees quickly, to feel close to the ones she or he will work with. And, to learn the tools, of course. After the first day you know 5-6 people, but after a week you are already familiar with 30!

Expectations vs. reality

To be honest, I was expecting a very formal atmosphere of my first week at Monterail. But this onboarding process was actually a time for experiencing the office and the people in a very relaxed way. I’m looking forward to the next weeks and months, to see how it looks further down the road. If you have any questions relating to work or the first week at Monterail, just leave a note in the comments section below. I’ll be happy to answer, or ask my new HR colleagues to do it (if the question requires broader knowledge). Now it’s your time, just give it a go! 

Want to work with people who care?

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