Navigating Uncharted Territory As a community-centric tech organization that was forced to pivot to a remote business model due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ll be the first to say … this was a monumental challenge for us. But the good news is we got through it. (And to be honest, we’re still getting through it.) Our company grew over 300% between March of 2020 and May of 2021. This is the most growth we’ve seen in such a short amount of time (and during a pandemic no less!), so navigating the challenges of interviewing new team members virtually, onboarding them remotely, and acclimating them to a remote team was very new, and frankly uncharted territory for Bitwise. In this breakdown, we’re going to talk about our humans and the process they had to undergo as remote team members who worked for nearly a full year without physically seeing their coworkers or our vibrant, amazing, brick-and-mortar workspaces—and what return to work may look like for them and the company at large. Welcome to Our (Remote) Team! I just want you to pause for a moment to think about the logistics in place to help interview, onboard, and release 300+ new hires into the Bitwise wild. (Our HR team is magical.) Now, imagine what that’s been like from the perspective of our new hires. During 2020 and the first half of 2021, our new folks went through the ‘normal process’ of interviewing—but completely virtual. They had to clean their living rooms or bedrooms, hang new wall art, lock their pets in another room, give themselves a home haircut with a Flowbee, and have the kiddos distracted or under the watchful eye of a spouse or partner—and then they had turn on that sparkle for a first-impression engagement with a member of our team. Many of our new hires undergo a few interviews; one with leadership and oftentimes a team interview. Once they get through that virtual process, they get introduced to their new virtual team and extended Bitwise family. For obvious safety reasons, during most of 2020, we stopped in-person welcome lunches, introductory fist bumps, and random coffee meet and greets. Additionally, our newer humans have been missing out on the opportunity to be stuck in a shared office space with our colleagues. Various Bitwise teams did try to make attempts at doing a few of these activities, of course, but all interactions stayed virtual. Virtually Together Our humans have been remarkable in helping our newer team members acclimate to our organization and our unique corporate culture during this crazy time, despite being on the screen of a laptop 24/7. Instead of meet and greets happening in an organic way, like running into them in the cafe or in the elevator, every introductory call has been scheduled with intention, making sure each human gets dedicated time carved out on the calendar to talk about favorite movies, food preferences, and hobbies. (And many times, they do have a coffee in hand, sooo, same thing right?) There’s no denying that this can be a little awkward at first, but typically in a few weeks time, new folks are able to settle into their teams, familiarize themselves with workflows, and eventually become an arm of the Bitwise Voltron—working hard, sharing gut-busting laughs and ideas, and finding their groove. It doesn’t happen immediately, but the humans of Bitwise share an unshakeable love for their team, our mission, and this organization. Working remotely and garnering team spirit virtually isn’t an easy task, but we’re on the cusp of returning to work—and that could be quite an overwhelming experience for some of our new humans who have never stepped foot in a Bitwise building. Excitement and _________ about Returning to Work I decided to leave the second descriptor out of that subheading for a few reasons. For me, that second adjective changes on a near daily basis. The excitement is real, friends. I miss my coworkers. The second part switches between light anxiety with some underpinnings of fear. And that’s just me. Every human in the Bitwise family is feeling some serious feels about returning to work. Some good and some not so good. You can talk to someone on Zoom every single day for a year, but seeing them in person is an entirely different scenario. Mostly because in person, you have to wear pants. But also because most of us have forgotten how to interact in person. Small talk. Fidgeting etiquette. Body language. Chewing with your mouth closed. Eye contact. All are actions we didn’t think so much about prior to being stuck in our homes for a year. Now, we’re all basically newborn foals stumbling back out into society on a frozen lake. We’re either going to slip and fall or we’re going to hit a triple axel. Either way, we won’t know until we try. Now, not all of our team members feel anxiety or fear. In fact, a few folks are already picking out their new desk accoutrements and doing some back-to-school shopping. I’ve seen new team members over the moon about being able to work in our Bitwise spaces and see our Bitwise faces. It’s fair to say most have some level of nervousness, but again, the humans that work for Bitwise are family. We’re strong people who believe in doing great things for our community and the world using technology as a vehicle. If we feel this strongly about helping those in our community whom we’ve never met, imagine what we do for each other. 2022 is on the Horizon Bitwise is scheduled to return to work sometime this summer, should the data and science show promising vaccination rates in the cities we serve. We really don’t know what the next three to six months will look like for us, but our team has a healthy mix of excitement and nervousness—but also unyielding hope. We’re facing an opportunity to begin again and start fresh with 2022 around the corner. New faces and new office spaces—in some brand new cities! Though we’re approaching the future with a healthy dose of ambivalence, you can rest assured that we’re ready to take on whatever is waiting for us when that moment arrives. Have a Question? Ask! Want to hear more about Bitwise Industries? Whether you have a question about our corporate culture or want to optimize your business with technology, schedule a chat with us using this link. We’d be happy to help you out! This post was written by Celeste A. Barron, Content Development Manager for Bitwise Industries. When she’s not writing content, you can find her in the latest Bitwise Story, “Unwavering Pride at Bitwise.” If you’re interested in uncovering the tech possibilities available to your organization or want to find more ways to increase your ROI with technology, click this link to schedule some time with one of our experts. Did you love this blog? Subscribe here for new Bitwise blog notifications. 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