Three ways we welcome new members to the PaperKite team

"What happens if nobody likes me?”  “They’re going to realise I know absolutely nothing about mobile Apps”  “What do I do when they discover my unique toiletry ritual?”

These are standard thoughts that all our team members probably asked themselves as they approached their first day at PaperKite. And fair enough. It can be intimidating joining a new team. Especially a small team like us, who frequently celebrate our close community. Our job as existing team members of PaperKite is to try and remove any of these apprehensions. So, how do we welcome new members to our team?

Over my three and a bit years at PaperKite, I’ve seen a range of approaches used to try and make our new team members feel welcome. This includes the not-so-great time when our newest recruit had to find an unclaimed desk, clean away the old books and cables, and fend for themselves for the rest of the day (Sorry Enrique, we love you!). Needless to say, we’ve improved our approach A LOT since then.

Here are the top 3 things we do to welcome new recruits to the PaperKite team — and you’ll never believe number 2 (not really, but I’ve always wanted to say that).

1. The first impression counts

The day before our newest team member joins us, we like to send them a photo of their future desk-space. All set-up and ready to go for the following day.

Having a fresh desk, a brand new machine, and a range of other goodies may not feel like a big deal, but for a new recruit it can mean the world. We want them to get excited for day one — as opposed to being worried that they have been forgotten, or that their arrival is a burden on your busy schedule. Everyone wants to feel special!

As well as the PaperKite T-shirt and stickers, we also include a personalised welcome pack. This printed fold-out has a load of helpful tips about the day-to-day life at PaperKite, a seating guide so you can quickly put names to faces, and a list of go-to people to help with any specific needs you may have.

The desk that awaits your arrival.

2. Be Human TM

We hear this phrase used a lot. We even joked about it in the planning of this post. What does it even mean? I could list words like ‘respectful’ and ‘authentic’ – but at the end of the day everyone seems to have their own interpretation of the term. And how do we apply this to our first-day onboarding process?

“Being human is the opposite of being robotic"

Niloy Roy, PaperKite Product Director

Step 1: Have a team lead ready to take ten minutes out of their day.

Step 2: Have the team lead introduce each member of the team to their new colleague, one by one. Super easy, super powerful. We’ve found that doing individual introductions really helps break the ice, not only for new employees but also the PaperKite team.

It can be as simple as “This is Farlei – he’s been part of our iOS team for over two years now. In his spare time he likes to build robots and tanks”. Sometimes that’s all that needs to be said. Other times the chat can go on for a few minutes. The most valuable outcome here is that our new employee has now initiated a human connection with each and every member of the PaperKite team. Nice!

3. #RUPK

The third and final item on this list is probably the one that defines our onboarding process the most. You aren’t truly a member of PaperKite until you’ve completed #RUPK (ignoring all those boring legal documents). So what is this #RUPK thing?

Without wanting to give away all the trade-secrets, #RUPK is a team session we’ve designed to really get to know our newest member. It started in 2015, and we’ve done it with each team member ever since.

It all happens on a Friday. The clock strikes 4:30pm and we kick off our weekly Friday Session – snacks, beverages, and banter. We welcome our new recruit to centre stage, and that’s when shit gets real and the big questions come out. While the format will be kept secret, our newest member is put through a series of challenges and questions to help us to really really get to know them. The result is a mix of both humour and sometimes surprisingly deep discussion. They also have to wear a propeller hat. 

We then turn the tables and the existing team is put through some similar scenarios. Fair is only fair. It means we are always learning new and often surprising things about our closest colleagues, and takes the pressure off our newest one.

Only at the conclusion of this ceremony can we truly answer the question: ‘Are you PaperKite?”

Nate, Will, Mike & Emma during their #RUPK initiation