Offsite Onboarding: trivago’s checkin week goes remote!
At the start of the COVID-19 lockdown, many of us felt lost with how to continue simple daily activities. So when thinking about checkin Week, our 5-day onboarding program at trivago, our initial reaction was “we have to cancel it”. But that thought did not last long… With 18 new talents from 13 different countries due to join in April, we started discussing the best approach and came up with checkin Week Digital!
Some of our first problems to solve: Will all talents be in Düsseldorf, Palma or Amsterdam, or will some be in different time zones? Will they be able to get their IT equipment? How can we engage the participants to learn and actively participate whilst sitting in front of their computer screens?
Our mission of checkin Week gave us a clear focus: to create a welcoming, insightful and challenging start for our newcomers, ensuring they understand our business, connect with our culture and feel empowered to make an impact. During our usual checkin Week on campus, all new talents have a jam-packed first week with us, including interactive presentations from experts, intense group challenges and lots of opportunities to get to know each other. So the real question was: How can we make this happen remotely?
The questions above started to answer themselves over time. Thankfully, all talents were in Europe already, which made scheduling the time much easier. Most new talents had already been given their IT equipment. For those who hadn’t, we scheduled a time slot with IT Support for them to collect it from Campus, one person at a time. We carefully created an agenda where all our checkin stakeholders could share important information, discuss key trivago concepts and engage our talents.
We used simple tools we mostly already use in our day-to-day work:
PowerPoint: Instead of the usual presentations, our session-holders recorded PowerPoints with voice overs and videos to explain their topics.
Slack: We created a dedicated Slack channel for the newcomers to chat, exchange and share information.
Zoom: Instead of Harvard, our usual training room on Campus, Zoom became our virtual meeting room. As this is a new tool for many of us, we included some “How To” videos created by our Talent Development team.
Dropbox Paper: Our Dropbox Paper document was our hub. It contained all the details about the week and was sent to new talents beforehand. It consisted of a welcome message, expectations and guidelines, how-to guides for the tools, our agenda and some useful links.
On Monday morning, we kicked it off with a lively introduction call via Zoom. Our first learning was already clear. We started using the Zoom “raise hand” feature when someone had a question or comment, just as you would do in person, but we quickly realized how unnatural it felt and changed to a “you know what? If you have a question, just unmute yourself and go for it!” approach. It created a more informal environment and we noticed the group began to be more and more engaged.
We recognized that creating a sense of community, connection and trust in checkin Week is crucial, especially during this strange time. Every morning, we started with a quick icebreaker game by creating Zoom breakout rooms with a discussion topic for them to later share with the whole group. This enabled them to have that let’s-have-a-quick-coffee-in-the-morning-before-we-start moment. Staying at home in a new country isn’t easy, so talking to new people, having a relaxed environment and feeling comfortable when sharing ideas are important.
As in our usual checkin Week, the group challenges about each pillar continued as normal (well, almost). With just a few small adjustments to the tasks and some strict moderation of the Zoom calls, we were pleasantly surprised by how smoothly it went. Each group had time to work together on the challenge before presenting their ideas to our pillar experts. Collaborating on complex topics via Zoom with people you’ve never met before is a challenge in itself! Working on challenges gives a hands-on approach to understand what each pillar is working on, what their struggles are and get in-depth knowledge of how trivago works. After presenting their results, we had group discussions with our experts who gave detailed feedback followed by a Q&A session.
Next steps? There were of course some sessions we couldn’t have during checkin Digital. For example, we’ll have a full Campus tour when we’re back. We’re also really looking forward to having a team event with the group as soon as possible, for us all to get to know each other in person!
Despite not being physically together in one room, our new talents approached the week with positivity and creativity; finding solutions to collaborate, getting to know each other and making the best of it. We were impressed with their high level of engagement, hard work and energy! This showed that our core values were lived from the start. Thank you to all the stakeholders who quickly adapted and were willing to give it a go. For us as checkin trainers, this was definitely a week of trial-and-error and overall, it was a success!
Thanks to our checkin trainers, Rosa and Bea, for sharing how checkin week went digital!