LogMeIn CIO: How to onboard new hires during a pandemic

There's no playbook for hiring and onboarding during a pandemic. LogMeIn CIO Ian Pitt shares how his IT team's zero-touch onboarding model and related processes are working
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When our offices closed six weeks ago, LogMeIn was in the midst of hiring about 150 people. Some of them had already accepted positions and were waiting to start their new job, while others completed the interview process virtually. 

For many companies, the disruption of a global pandemic might delay the hiring process while new logistics and processes were put into place. Fortunately, our IT organization was prepared to quickly set up these new employees thanks to a zero-touch onboarding model and other processes we quickly stood up. 

[ Want more advice on navigating today's remote work environment? Read Remote work: Lessons from a remote-first company. ]

How zero-touch deployment and onboarding works

Traditionally when you onboard an employee, IT purchases a laptop, waits for it to be shipped, sets it up, then sends it to the user. Six months ago we developed and implemented a new method to streamline that process. 

When we onboard a new employee today, or when someone needs a replacement device, we mail it directly to the individual and have them log into a portal to set it up on their own. This reduces the friction and allows us to focus more on the actual onboarding experience.

It’s not the same as being in an office, but it brings new hires into the company culture faster than if they had to wait until the pandemic passed.

Before the pandemic hit, we’d onboard a group of five to 10 people in the office, which gave them an opportunity to develop connections with other new hires. We wanted to replicate this remotely, so we introduced videoconferencing into the process. This allows them to still meet face-to-face and helps them get to know their peers and managers. It’s not the same as being in an office, but it brings new hires into the company culture faster than if they had to wait until the pandemic passed.

This zero-touch method and update to our onboarding process really shined when we brought on a large customer care team in Guatemala. They had just been put on lockdown while we were in the process of making 30 to 40 new hires. We found a supplier with available laptops, bought them, and zero-touch provisioned them. Our new team members were up to speed within a week.

Navigating supply chain concerns

Despite supply chain issues across the globe, we’ve been able to obtain enough laptops in a short time to meet the demand of our new hires. Our relationship with the CFO has been critical to this. 

When we find a vendor with equipment in stock, we want to move quickly. We’ve had to work with procurement to soften some of the contract requirements because, frankly, if we didn’t buy the supply, someone else would. This means we’ve stepped back from negotiating the absolute best value, but ultimately obtaining the supply is more important.

Prioritizing security

As part of the new remote work reality, we’ve doubled-down on the importance of security at home. Our employees have been trained in security best practices, but that doesn’t mean the others they share their home with – their spouses, partners, and kids – fully understand the importance of security on a company device. 

We’re encouraging people to lock their machines and discourage others from downloading anything on it. We’re reminding them to change their WiFi passwords, upgrade their router, and update default passwords to ensure the company is as protected as possible. 

There’s no playbook for hiring during a pandemic. We’re thankful to have had the foresight to put in place remote onboarding when we did, and strongly believe that this is something all CIOs should consider as part of their short-term roadmap.

Not only will this help businesses now as they navigate the realities of remote work, the benefits will extend far beyond that. Organizations will have the ability to onboard large numbers of people as the economy rebounds and M&A activity is revived. Businesses can more easily hire the best talent anywhere – not just the best talent in close proximity to their offices. Remote deployment also helps when teams are on the road and suddenly need a new machine – there’s less downtime and more productivity. Ultimately, that’s what every organization wants. 

[ What can leaders do to support teams working remotely at a time of much uncertainty? Read also: How to lead in the age of newly remote teams. ]

Ian Pitt
Ian Pitt is Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Progress. Ian creates the strategy for all Progress technology systems, striking the delicate balance between future-looking innovation and ongoing technology operations. His ultimate goal is to ensure that all company systems deliver world-class experiences to employees and customers.