On remote onboarding during Covid and a scavenger hunt that helped me find peace

One Personerd shares her experience with remote onboarding and a very special team-building event.

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According to a recent study, a whopping 26% of U.S. workers changed employers since the start of the pandemic. In February, I joined Persona — and that number.

I wasn’t planning on leaving my old job — I don’t like change, and this would be a big one. In addition, I worried about having to onboard remotely. How would I get to know the ins-and-outs of Persona enough to actually do my job? Ask questions without annoying people? Meet all my new coworkers and make friends?

However, Persona ended up winning me over during the interview process. The team was incredibly brilliant but humble at the same time, and I could tell they not only cared about my career but also cared for me as an individual. I read the Glassdoor reviews, which matched the gut feeling I had, and it didn't take long to confirm I had made the right decision after joining.

In addition to an organized onboarding process complete with to-do lists and live overviews of the main areas of the business, Persona assigned me an amazing buddy I could turn to for any questions (hi Chelsea!) and made sure there were plenty of opportunities to get to know the team — within my first month, the CTO led a coffee brewing Q&A session, we had a Lunar New Year-themed happy hour, and our DEIB group led a lunch and learn inspired by Black History Month.

But the event that had the biggest impact on me was our scavenger hunt in April.

What’s so special about a scavenger hunt?

Scavenger hunts aren’t new, but there are a few details that made this one stand out:

  • The organizers created both in-person and virtual teams so everyone could participate — even if they didn’t live near San Francisco or feel comfortable hanging out in person.
  • They invited Personerds who hadn’t officially started at Persona yet to give them a head start on getting to know the team. For example, Conrad on our team was set to join the following Monday.
  • They made the teams as diverse as possible so everyone could get to know people they might not necessarily work with on a regular basis. Our team had two engineers, one strategy manager, and one marketer. This diversity worked to our advantage, as we all had different strengths and roles to play. Sal was our artistic director and Photoshop master, Conrad took on a bunch of the writing, Bowen was our Google Maps troubleshooter and coauthor, and I was in charge of navigation.

The night before the event, we got an email with our assignment: create a travel guide for any city of our choice. For a more realistic experience, virtual teams like mine were instructed to travel through the city via Google Maps Street View — i.e. no jumping across the city instantly.

In our travel guide, we needed to include photos with at least two team members in each of the following locations:

  • A public art piece
  • The team's favorite bubble tea or coffee place
  • A restaurant or store that shares a name with someone at Persona
  • A cozy plaza or park
  • Everyone crossing a street together

Finding everything on our list… and more

During a scavenger hunt, you’re tasked with finding all the items on a list the organizer gives you. In the end, I not only checked off all the necessary items (with my amazing team), but also found a newfound appreciation for Persona, a team forever united by our time together (memorialized in a bunch of silly pictures), and most importantly, a new home where I know I can be myself.

Though we didn’t win the award for best photo, it was so clear we enjoyed ourselves that we were nominated to share our travel guide here. Please enjoy:

Our scavenger hunt submission: Team Salameda travel guide

On Friday the 16th, the four Sal-Pals gathered to explore the Salameda wilderness. What follows is a gripping retelling of their travel adventures.

We began by crossing the Park Street bridge. Wind howling, cars thundering past oblivious to our presence, we barely made it (only losing a hand and a piece of our heads in the process).

If you follow in our footsteps, we recommend crossing on the correct side of the street!

Shortly thereafter, we were pulled against our will by the magical forces of Google Street View into a nearby restaurant. After ordering some drinks to recover from the harrowing Park Street Bridge experience, we discovered to our shock that the restaurant shared a name with a Personerd!

Behold, the (Zoey) GOLD Coast Grill!

While the food was delicious, with hints of both gold and coast, the drinks left something to be desired.

When you find yourself feeling thirsty in Salameda, you can always count on a good boba joint to satisfy your needs. Honestly, there were so many to choose from we didn’t know where to start.

Thankfully, our local guide Jenna was there to shepherd us through this daunting process. She led us straight to her favourite watering hole: Happy Lemon.

Sadly, Happy Lemon didn’t exist in 2019, which is when the Google Cameramobile last visited Salameda. Defeated & dejected, we made our way to Gong Cha for some boba. The spot was completely empty, but it turned out to be the best boba I’ve ever had in Salameda! (Editor’s note: the author has not been to Salameda.) I guess everything tastes better in a Persona mug.

Refreshed, invigorated, and honestly needing to blow off a little steam, we stepped out into the sunshine and something special caught our eye:

USA. Kung. Fu. Studio.

How could we not?

You’ve not truly been to Salameda until you’ve tried your hand in the ring with Jenna!

After some good exercise, we wanted to rest a bit and admire some fine art. Sadly, Salameda is somewhat lacking in this department (or at least it was in 2019). We cruised around town for a good twenty minutes hunting for something — anything — that qualified as art.

This spurred an interesting conversation among the Sal-pals: what, truly, counts as art?

Tensions ran high as increasingly-frustrated team members began suggesting that random buildings, museum-exteriors, and even an Auto Body Shop could all be manifestations of the Platonic Form of Art.

Thankfully, our navigator-in-chief found some pristine wall art in time to save us from our own madness:

Dashing forward at astonishing speeds, it’s not surprising we occasionally found ourselves at a different time. One moment it was sunny, then cloudy another. When the sun appeared again, we discovered ourselves in front of a quiet neighborhood park, where we reminisced on our carefree pastimes, back before the conversation about art ever took place.

We leave you with a parting shot of the Sal-Pals running home in time for dinner — this time using a crosswalk! We would like to see each other safe and… well, intact, when we finally meet each other in person, after all.

P.S. We're hiring! Check out our open positions and learn more about our values and benefits on our Careers page.

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