When asked what people like most about working at Silverchair, the top two responses are the culture and the people. Our culture isn't something that just happened, it is something we have put attention towards shaping, molding, and refining.

The way we describe our culture is a learning organization that really does live its values:

  • Speak your Mind; Be Honest and Constructive
  • Listen and Assume Positive Intent
  • Solve Problems with Creativity and Empathy
  • Act With Integrity
And over the years, we have found that one of the things that helps us actively enable our culture is having the majority of our staff co-located. We've found that working in an Agile environment it is helpful for members of the Scrum teams to be able to turn around and ask a quick question, rather than set a meeting or make a call.

Running into each other in the break room and having a casual, totally unrelated conversation, or engaging in the ongoing debate of 'Is it a sandwich?' adds to the richness of our culture. While we are a software company where many people work remotely a couple of days a week, taking the entire office remote was never something we wanted. But as the concerns about COVID-19 increased, we had to change our preferred way of operating quite quickly and quite drastically.

My concern was, “How do we maintain our espirit de corps when we aren't together?” I was also concerned about how we would hire and onboard people when we can't meet in person, when they can't 'see' and experience our office and culture in person. I should also mention that our culture is a bit competitive, so it didn't take long for the concerns to transform into challenges to overcome. I.e., how can we recruit, hire, and onboard through a pandemic better than we've done in person?

Enter the awesome Silverchair team - Peter, Monica, and the company. Here’s how they’ve adjusted to keep our culture strong, recruit and onboard amazing new employees, and incorporate them into our workforce remotely.

Peter Torres, Recruiter: “Much of the recruiting process takes place online or via phone already, but I’ve had to shift my language when speaking with candidates during this pandemic. As a recruiter, it is my responsibility to help candidates navigate their way through the interview and hiring process. The layoffs and furloughs as a result of COVID-19 have taught me that candidates need reassurance and encouragement now more than ever. Sharing Silverchair’s story about how we support medical and scientific publishers is both exciting and significant. Every team member at Silverchair plays a vital role in supporting our clients during this pandemic.”

Last month, we had our first fully remote recruiting and onboarding. Meet Meredith, who joined us as an Associate DevOps Engineer.

Meredith: “I started applying to Silverchair before there were serious discussions about stay-at-home orders, and considering how fast the interview process went, it’s amazing how much changed in a short amount of time. From the beginning I was told that there would be in-person interviews after a few more rounds of phone calls, but by the time I got to that part, the decision was made to switch to video interviews. I had never used Zoom before and didn’t have a personal Microsoft Teams account, so I spent some time setting up – stacking up books to make sure my webcam was at the right height, playing around with the apps, etc. Apart from that, though, I feel like the video interviews were about the same as they would’ve been in person.”

Entering into the realm of remote onboarding was initially intimidating and overwhelming. Thankfully, as we started planning it became clear that it wouldn’t be as daunting as we had originally thought.

Monica Morgan, Payroll & Benefits Specialist: “Being a digital technology organization that works with remote employees, we already had an idea of how to transition all of the onboarding to a virtual format. While transitioning to the virtual onboarding, it became clear the bigger concern lay with onboarding into our culture. Silverchair is known for an open, welcoming, creative, social, and fun environment with amazing Silverchairians. In the same office, it is easy to welcome someone new into the culture and give them the full experience. With us all in our own homes, not so much. We had to take a creative approach and sent a call to action to the entire company, asking them to step up and welcome our first new hire into our culture. And boy, did they!”

A few tips we sent to our onboarding team members:

  • Go overboard on the welcome. This round of hires has not seen our offices or experienced anyone IRL so while they are excited to join us, they haven’t felt all the Silverchair awesomeness. So now is the time to be more excited and welcoming.
  • Practice with Zoom and your presentation content in advance. We’re not looking for perfection or mad skills, but iron the kinks out before you have to deliver.
  • Check-in later. You aren’t casually going to bump into any of these new hires for a while so to make the first point really work and stick, make a little note to check-in later, see how things are going, what questions they have, etc. It’s quite likely that they are going to be nervous to ask questions (new hires generally are) and in this environment there isn’t someone next to them to ask.
  • RECORD your session. To help get stuff to stick, record your session. It’s really important for new hires to be able to go back to the content to try and get what they missed.
Monica: “We are still tweaking the logistics of our remote onboarding, but we have definitely found success in including our new hire into our social activities with open, welcoming arms. Everyone involved was all in and committed to making this a successful experience. Together we were able to adapt. Just another example of how Silverchair is awesome because we get to solve complex problems with really smart and committed people.”

Meredith: “Once I was hired (yay!) and joined the company remotely, everyone was extremely welcoming. Normally Silverchair takes new hires out for lunch on their first day, so I got a virtual one in which I could bond with my new coworkers. I got to meet a lot of people over webcam while they explained different parts of the business at Silverchair, which is something that I’ve never had at other workplaces, so I appreciated getting a more well-rounded view of the company. For my new work team, they have an all-day virtual meeting that I have on while I study about my new role or do other work that doesn’t require me to be in a different meeting. When they have time, they drop in and share their screen to teach me about the work they do or to guide me through doing it myself, as they would have if we were all in the same building. In addition to that, I was introduced to people around the company with similar interests who invited me to virtual movie nights, a few chat channels for extroverts, and so on, until I ended up having more of a social life than I did in the years before the quarantine. I’ve learned a lot about my new coworkers’ pets, children, hobbies, and personalities, and now I am looking forward to when we can all meet in person.”

Want to see some of how we’ve been maintaining our culture while remote? Check out our Instagram account for recent zoom shenanigans, then visit our Careers page to explore open positions.

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