It’s becoming increasingly common to have a team made up of people working from different locations, whether by preference or necessity, brought about by pandemic factors or lifestyle choices.

The processes for building a great team culture should not be overlooked and one area which requires us to be specifically intentional is how we welcome and onboard our newest team members. How do we communicate our cultural norms and behaviours that are usually observed and absorbed in an office environment, when our office environment is predominantly made up of video calls and file sharing?

Many in our Juno team are familiar with this situation, so we asked them what they do to help themselves smooth that process and what clients have done to help them.

Helpful things you can do:

  1. Set yourself up well. Ask for an organisation structure chart and the staff contact list. Make sure you have the access you need to their systems, intranet/ SharePoint/ Teams/ email/ contacts etc. Find out who to contact for IT support and who to report up to.
  1. Orientate yourself with the filing system - both in and out, e.g., where to find previous contracts, precedents and templates, and where to put new documents and emails.
  1. Tell them how you like to learn. For example, if you tell them, “Give me a pile of stuff to read, a list questions and then who to talk to about them” that onboarding process just got a whole lot easier.
  1. Ask for clarity on what reporting is required as an update to the GC when WFH to manage expectations. Give them the workplan you use to keep current to track key work areas, risks etc.
  2. Join in! Attend the daily stand-up, even if it’s just for the key announcements, and any (virtual) social events, online quizzes etc.

Helpful things that employers have done:

  1. Doing something social early on can really help establish relationships and build a sense of trust.
  1. Buddies - nominating one person dedicated to settling in the lawyer and responding to the myriad of questions e.g., “How do I get in touch with the IT team”, “How do I find the team calendar”, “How do I access the org. chart”...
  1. Introduce them to key stakeholders – set up virtual meet and greets for this. Limit the contact to about four key people rather than having to navigate all over the organisation. This enables access to decision makers, and leaders of the work so they can get going quickly and get questions answered fast. This range may expand in time.
  2. Provide clear expectations about the scope of the role:
    - What's in/out - eg advice but not drafting?
    - Top three priorities, and whether leading or inputting
    - Preferred level of visibility - eg peer review processes, cc (or not) on emails etc
    - Where to find relevant policies including contracts policy, delegations policy, risk management, IP, conflicts of interest if they have them, legal team template contracts, any relevant guidelines or documented processes.
    - Share the organisation's Risk Appetite.
  3. No lawyer left behind. Treat every member of the team the same regarding “team” norms.