Onboarding only possible on site? Not at Roche!

We at Roche have already proven in recent months that onboarding can also take place virtually. But what exactly is a digital onboarding event like? We talked about this with our new Test Manager Konstantin Sorokin, whom we were unable to meet on 1st May - as originally planned - at our site in the Stuttgart area, but who was able to experience his start at Roche from his home office - in Russia, over 2,500 km away!

Konstantin, what thoughts went through your mind when you learned that due to the current situation your onboarding would not take place on site but virtually, via the monitor?

First of all, I'm glad that despite the current situation I was able to start at Roche - even though the corona pandemic thwarted my original plan. 

Actually, I had planned to travel to Germany a few weeks before I started at Roche. I wanted to find my way around there, find an apartment, complete all the registrations and then start working at Roche. 

But then Russia, due to the current situation, closed the borders and I knew I needed a plan B. When I found out that nothing would stand in the way of my start at Roche, despite the adversities, and that even my onboarding would be done virtually, I remained positive.

How was the onboarding and the virtual welcome by your colleagues for you? 

Well, I would describe virtual onboarding as a very interesting experience. The same applies to getting to know my team members via monitor. 

Of course - especially at the beginning - it is much easier when you can meet your colleagues in person, talk to them and exchange ideas. But despite this "digital barrier", the first meeting went great. Everyone was very warm, inviting, interested and supportive - and still are today! 

I was also shown understanding for my current situation from day one that I would work from Russia for the time being.  

With a view to virtual working: What was or is the biggest challenge for you so far?

An essential part of my work as a Test Manager consists of good preparation and communication with my direct colleagues, but especially with other teams and departments. As a new employee, I naturally first had to understand who is working in which team or department. Therefore, I pragmatically compiled a list with the relevant information - this way I can keep track of things even from a distance and interact in a goal-oriented manner. 

A further challenge was the (virtual) communication itself, as I find direct, personal exchange much easier. But since I can't just walk up to one of my colleagues to discuss certain topics, I just pick up the phone and write an e-mail or a short message. This kind of communication takes a lot more time, but in the end, it works just as well and I am very happy to be a (virtual) part of this team. 

And also the success proves us right! Despite the current situation, we were able to plan projects together and implement them in the best possible way.

Now you have already given us a brief description of how communication is currently taking place in your team. How do we have to imagine your daily work routine?

Basically, I would describe us as a "self-managing" team. In concrete terms, this means that we meet daily to form a virtual "board" and exchange information about the upcoming tasks. If there are any queries, we contact each other using the numerous digital tools that Roche provides us with and work together to find a solution. 

To make my start at Roche as pleasant as possible, my team has put together a number of presentations and videos for me. In this way I was able to quickly understand how our systems work in detail and finally be able to fully concentrate on my work as a Test Manager within a very short time.  

Overall, I think we have found a very good way of working together in the current situation. 

What do you wish for when you will finally be physically with us in Germany at the end of July?

Normally, when you start a new job in a new company, you hope that your colleagues will give you a warm welcome and perhaps speculate on a little surprise. 

After the experiences of the last weeks and months, however, I only wish to be able to come to the office as usual and have a personal exchange with my team - even if digital communication really works very well. And my colleagues are also already asking when I will finally be on site, at our development site in the Stuttgart area - possibly because they are planning a very special "welcome" for me. (Laughs) 

Finally, how would you describe your start at Roche in the Stuttgart area in three sentences or words?

Ready. Steady. Go

Thank you, Konstantin for the interview and welcome to Roche in the Stuttgart area!

Tags: Germany, Career Blog, Human Resources