First days are a mix of anticipation and awkwardness. New hires are eager to make their mark but end up bumbling around the office. In my first day at Robin, I had no idea if startups still had printers or if I was a dinosaur for wanting something on paper.
Meanwhile, the colleagues in charge of onboarding are antsy to get the new employee trained. Yet, there’s always a slew of questions that pop up. Here are mine, to help you improve the first day for everyone.
- Who are these people sharing breathing room with me? Make sure you introduce the new guy to the people seated in their area. People can be shy or focused on their work. Force the awkward interactions; we’ll be better off for it.
- How do I use this fancy adjustable desk and monitor? I knew how to use the tab to make the desk move vertically, but I ended up having the wrong monitor cable, which I assumed was test #1. Walk the new employee through the desk set up so they don’t risk feeling dumb.
- Where are the human amenities? Bathroom, kitchen, shower. It’s nice to know where you can take your bio breaks early on, so if an emergency comes on you don’t have to panic. I also got a solid tutorial on the fancy coffee machine in the kitchen.
- Is there a list of the software we use? Tech companies use approximately 400% more software than where I come from. I’ve caught on, but a quick list up front could be useful. The new hire can then bookmark or download the right ones and know what to use them for.Tip! See if you can join Slack or Gmail before you start. That way you can acclimate even earlier than your start date.
- Where can I find the basic company info? If you’ve got a company handbook, that should be the first-day bible. The new guy can use it to answer some of their own questions, saving only the best questions for face time.
- How does the office culture work? While the handbook is handy, some important cultural info isn’t always published. What are typical work hours? Where’s the best place to take a phone call? Where are other spaces I can get quiet work done? Where can I store some of my stuff (especially in open office environments)?
- What kind of office supplies do we have available? New employees love a good supply run. I stocked up on post-it notes, tissues, and a few pens. This question is also an opportunity to politely see if the company offers any swag -- I’ve now added two t-shirts to my collection. Lastly, I was able to connect to the printer. Hello, printed proofreading.
- Where do people get lunch around here? In other words, take me out! Nothing says “welcome” like a first-day lunch. Sharing a meal is one of the oldest forms of easing social tensions.
- What kind of company activities are there? Whether there’s a calendar of events or just a few specific ones coming up, new people like to be yes-people. I’ve already signed up for a Bob Ross themed company event and may join some peers on winter hiking trips. Crampons: activate.Tip! Ask if there is a Slack thread or intranet location where people post recreational activities. See if people have a few recommendations so you can weed out the not-so-fun ones.
- What’s the elevator pitch we use to describe ourselves? Everyone else may have this memorized, but the new employee recites their version like a baby animal learning to walk. After all, they need something to explain at the next family dinner.
Some of these may seem obvious or happen naturally over time. But it never hurts to share information and get both new hire and existing team better prepared. And don’t forget, while it’s a lot to both take in and distribute, well-trained new employees are happy employees. Another thing that makes employees happy? Being able to see if a conference room is readily available.