When, two weeks ago, Daniel Yagoda started a new job as a medical data analyst at stroke detection startup Viz.ai Inc., she stayed home. Like many people around the world, she was in quarantine at the time, as the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic began to spread in Israel.
Yagoda’s new boss came to her house in person, adhering to the regulations at the time and maintaining a safe distance, to deliver her welcome package, which included a laptop and additional perks, Yagoda told Calcalist in a recent interview. Her first days on the job were spent alone, reading background materials, and on meetings, conducted through video communication apps. “So far, I have only met my team on ZOOM meetings,” Yagoda said. “At first, I was concerned as it seems less personal than meeting face to face, but everyone was very supportive and helpful,” she added.
Now, as the pandemic continues to progress, with every day bringing new movement restrictions, almost all non-essential employees—who have not joined Israel’s more than 600,000 newly unemployed
currently working from home. Like Viz.ai, some companies are not letting the crisis hold back their recruitment efforts and are continuing to conduct video interviews for candidates and welcoming new employees that have already been hired, using various remote means. Starting a new job is always stressful and filled with a need to prove oneself in a new social and professional framework. When quarantine or social distancing are added to the picture, the challenge becomes even greater.
Starting a new position from home quarantine is quite a challenge, Adi Levy, an operations lead at Viz.ai told Calcalist. The company has a very distinct social and professional atmosphere that Yagoda is unable to experience, she added. “We are doing our best to help her become a part of the company and we are certain she will be able to join us physically in a little while.”
When Elad Notti interviewed for a senior software developer position at Tel Aviv-based startup Syte-Visual Conception Ltd., he had no idea he would end up working from home. At the time, the virus has yet to reach Israel, but a week before he was due to start at Syte, his old workplace sent everyone home to work remotely, Notti told Calcalist. “I called Syte to see what was going on because I saw that friends who were supposed to start new jobs did not start according to schedule,” he said. Syte assured him, however, that the company was fully prepared for remote work.
Notti said that starting a new job from home meant he needed to prove himself even more than usual and be more proactive. “Luckily, in software development, working from home is quite common, and a lot of developers find they can concentrate better from home,” he said. “Personally, I can work well both at home and at the office, and I set up a distraction-free working station at home,” he added. Notti said he fears he would be less productive than expected but reminds himself this is a legitimate concern any time you start a new job.
"It feels like a social experiment and I believe that when it is over, we will realize some jobs can be done just as well from home,” Notti said.
Including Notti, Syte had three research and development employees who started work last week, according to Debbie Diamond, the company’s head of human resources. Their entire training program will happen online and they will be assigned a ‘buddy’ to make sure they are fitting in nicely, Diamond told Calcalist.
In addition to the regular perks, Syte also gave new employees a package containing information on the company, and on its team and policies, as well as a guidebook on efficiently working from home during the crisis, she said. “The new employees will be assigned projects to get them up to speed and daily online Q&A sessions with their teams will be conducted to help them along,” she added.
Shani Ordever was also in home-quarantine when she started a new job at the human resources department of information security company Imperva Inc. “It is a new challenge for me as well as for the company,” Ordever told Calcalist. Instead of meeting over a cup of coffee in the office, everything is done online, she said. “This situation is not ideal and is professionally challenging but the company’s online training program and the team’s support enable it,” she said.
Imperva is continuing to recruit new employees remotely, using video interviews, according to Einat Leham-Livnat, vice president of human resources at the company. “We made all the necessary adjustments to our onboarding process to accommodate work from home, including
a paid lunch card sent to employees’ doorsteps,” she told Calcalist.
Remote onboarding required adapting the company’s systems to not only allow for transmitting information but also to measure the new employee’s level of involvement and the time they spent on each task and each step, Avi Snir, founder and CEO of Tel Aviv-based corporate training company Elevation Education Ltd., told Calcalist.
The coronavirus crisis affects not just startups but also large multinationals, like Nasdaq-listed software company Autodesk Inc., which changed its recruitment and onboarding processes to meet the Israeli regulations. Relevant software is installed remotely and a team member closely accompanies new employees on their first days, serving as the company’s familiar face during orientation, Meirav Fuks, who heads human resources for Autodesk Israel, told Calcalist.
Roy Goldschmidt started working for Autodesk as a product manager last week from his living room. “I was very happy for the support I got from the whole team, with video conferences lasting until the wee hours of the night,” he told Calcalist. “I hope one day we could all meet in real life at the office,” he said.
Tomer Stolero, who started working as a full-stack developer at Tel Aviv-based payment fraud prevention company Forter Inc. last week, said the care package he got from the company while in quarantine helped him know he made the right choice by joining the company. “The team leader made sure I got all the equipment I needed for remote work delivered to me at home and a welcome toast was held via video conference with my new team,” he told Calcalist.
Forter is very experienced with remote work and onboarding even prior to the crisis so it has all the necessary infrastructure, Orit Rappaport, the company’s country manager in Israel and vice president of global human resources, told Calcalist. During regular times, however, Forter also had an experienced employee on-site to help guide new workers personally, she said. The company added two new employees last week, who went through the entire recruitment process digitally and even met with management and the rest of the team via video, Rappaport added. This situation is testing for the company as well as for employees but we are getting better at it as time goes by, she said.