Despite remote work becoming more and more popular, the number one question we hear from candidates interested in BenchSci is: “What will onboarding be like?” Since 2020, we’ve onboarded over 300 employees remotely. We’ve experimented with different tools and formats to make sure our new BenchSciers are getting all the information they need to start working and, most importantly, are able to make new connections right away.
That’s how we developed BenchCamp Onboarding, our four-week onboarding program designed for any new team member in any time zone. Containing a mix of asynchronous and live content, BenchCamp has all the information new team members need including dedicated learning paths for managers and technical information for engineers, scientists, and more.
Starting a new job is like climbing a mountain. The prospect of reaching the top can be overwhelming. But we’re here to guide you. Like a practiced climbing instructor, we start by giving you the right tools, charting a course, introducing the foundations you need to know, connecting you with other experienced climbers, and then supporting you as you climb.
Whether you’re about to join us in a couple of days or just want to know more about life at BenchSci, here’s what to expect at BenchCamp:
Pre-onboarding: Charting the course ahead
Onboarding actually begins before your first day. We send out clear, simple email instructions to help new team members feel ready for the weeks ahead. Laptops are mailed out and information about funds for at-home office equipment or local coworking spaces is provided.
Then comes the fun part: our welcome kit. Stocked with all kinds of goodies, we send these kits not only to give new team members swag but also as a way of introducing our company culture. Our mission and values are of course part of that. But so is celebrating people and achievements—and joining the team is definitely a milestone! The welcome kit is meant to be a gift to thank you for joining us and to give you insight into what your new working environment is really like.
Week 1: The climb begins (5 hours/day)
To make sure everyone starting at BenchSci gets the right information at the right time, the first week on the job is dedicated exclusively to onboarding. During week one, new BenchSciers will check in with their manager and meet the members of their team at a virtual lunch. For the remainder of the time, groups of new team members are onboarded as cohorts with different facilitators from throughout BenchSci so you can get to know how our company works.
Since we have people joining from around the world, BenchCamp includes a mix of asynchronous and synchronous programming which takes about five hours per day. You can work your way through interactive modules and videos that teach you not only everything about what we do and how we do it but also why. At the end of the day, it’s the “why” that drives everything else. Our entire onboarding process is built around that idea. We supplement content with live Q&A sessions hosted by people across the company so new team members get the chance to ask questions directly and understand how our “why” applies across departments.
Each new team member is also assigned an onboarding buddy to check in with them by the end of the week and in the weeks ahead. Onboarding buddies can be from any department, so new BenchSciers can get to know someone outside their team and their cohort.
To wrap it all up, there are some special activities planned to help inspire the scientist in all of us.
Weeks 2 to 4: Getting acclimatized (5 hours/week)
You’ve probably heard the expression “drinking from the fire hose” when it comes to onboarding at a new job. There’s so much information and context to know in so little time. That’s why for weeks two to four of onboarding, we slow the pace from daily to weekly content. There are still live sessions involved to make sure our new team members are forming connections, but never more than five hours of content per week. These sessions don’t just focus on the technical parts of the job but also on soft skills, including a workshop on inclusivity by our DEI team and sessions about managing burnout and imposter syndrome by our in-house coaches.
When working remotely, making connections can be daunting, which is why we go out of our way to keep onboarding cohorts together. That way, you have other people going through the same thing you are to lean on.
We also have all sorts of Slack channels to help connect with BenchSciers not just by area (whether that’s the UK, Texas, Ottawa, or elsewhere) but also by interest! From the best BBQ tips, to plant propagation advice, to photos of pets, there is a Slack channel for it. The #chatter-office-improvement channel is definitely popular when figuring out how to spend the home office allowance! In addition, we have channels for groups like BenchShe Plus (our women’s ERG) and #chatter-rainbow for our 2SLGBTQIA+ team members and allies.
To keep conversations between employees going to infinity and beyond, we use Donut, a Slack integration that randomly pairs team members, new and old, for a once-a-week 15-minute chat.
Week 5+: Look at how far you’ve come
All good things have to come to an end, but the end of BenchCamp is really just the beginning of your new journey. We want our team members to do the best work of their lives. That’s what success beyond success really means, and we make this happen by building a culture that supports new team members in all dimensions of their life, inside and outside of BenchSci. One of our core values is transparency, and we recognize that the risk of burnout and imposter syndrome is often a part of joining a new company, especially one in hypergrowth like BenchSci. That is why we offer a full range of programs to support employee mental health. From our in-house coaches to our Caregivers Support Group, we ensure that employees have the level of support that they need when they need it.
Then comes the final step: feedback time. We wait until three months after someone joins to collect feedback on how they found the onboarding process. Of course, immediate feedback is welcome, but after getting through the modules and starting work, we know that people need time to really reflect. By asking for feedback after the first 90 days of work we get the most thoughtful input from team members. Not just feel-good five-star reviews from someone who is eager to start, but rather valuable insights from team members who now feel confident and established in their role.
BenchCamp is built on an iterative design model. We constantly make updates and there will always be more ways to improve it because our team itself is growing. That’s why the feedback from new team members is so important to us.
As we make changes, we’ll keep this post updated as well so candidates will always know what to expect. If you’re interested in joining us and trying out BenchCamp for yourself, check out our Careers page for open roles!
What would you like to see during remote onboarding? Share your thoughts in the comments below and subscribe to our blog for all the latest BenchSci news and events.