Adjusting to Lullabot's Culture

Some Assembly Required, Part 2

Last month, I talked about my experience being hired by Lullabot. Now, I'd like to tell you about my first few months as a UX Designer. I am still learning about my coworkers and finding my groove, but can already look back on where I started and see my progress.

A Well-Defined Process

As soon as I was hired, I realized what a well oiled-machine I was a part of. I'm a huge geek for process, and it’s obvious that other bots are, too. Once I accepted the job offer, I received a monster email explaining all of the accounts to log into, apps to set up, and paperwork to fill out. It also included a link to a detailed company handbook — the process geek in me exclaimed, "Hooray, there's a handbook!"

Tossed into the Deep End

In the weeks that followed, I heard the phrase “drinking from the firehose” a lot. I expected it to be worse, but everything I needed to know was carefully documented and explained. I think this excerpt from the handbook summarizes the Lullabot approach perfectly:

“We know that you are human… and that we've tossed you into the deep end. We don’t expect you to be an Olympic swimmer right away. We fully expect that you're going to choke and cough a bit—perhaps submerge completely. It’s going to be a little overwhelming at first. We understand that. The rest of the team is around to help. We can pull you out of the deep end. We can even give you a swimming lesson. But we also know that you're capable of great things. There is no shame in asking for help. We're actually more worried when new people don’t ask for help. We want you to learn. We want to teach you. We know that you'll eventually get the hang of things and swim like a fish!"

I loved that the handbook wasn't just about nitty-gritty rules and regulations. I learned a lot about the culture and values of Lullabot, and found the personal tone to be just what I needed. Lullabot had carefully considered what new hires would go through and calmed those butterflies. It felt like I had a life raft, support as I went into that "deep end."

The Onboarding

A few days before I started, I cracked my knuckles, read through everything, and made a simple checklist to keep track of everything that needed doing. I received signup emails and instructions for the services I'd be using to communicate with the team, share files, and track my time and expenses. My Dropbox synced for hours, and downloading the Adobe Creative Cloud applications took almost as long. Besides tinkering with my email account and filtering, I spent the most time getting up to speed with IRC, our go-to messaging system (edit: these days, we have swapped IRC for Slack).

I dove into the paperwork and forms (filling out health insurance and 401k information takes time), carefully wrote my bio for the website, and took a temporary headshot photo. The HR team kept things personal and friendly throughout the process. I had lovely sync calls with Kris, who walked me through a variety of admin items, gave me ample opportunity to ask my questions, and made sure that I hadn’t overlooked anything.

That sort of help was what I'd expected, or at least hoped for. What I hadn't anticipated was the amazing, supporting community created by all of the Lullabots. Even people I wouldn't necessarily work with on my design projects took time out of their own busy projects to welcome me.

As I mentioned in my last article, I was assigned a Lullabuddy, a peer-level coworker who could answer any questions I had. Hopping onto hangouts with Carwin during my first few days helped me get a better handle on the culture of Lullabot, and I'm thankful for that help. I didn't have too many questions, but it was great to know he was there if I had something weighing on my mind and didn't want to reach out to my director or HR.

Setting Up My Space

Even though the process was smooth, there was a lot of adjustment for me in the beginning. I spent my first few days as a Lullabot in Atlanta, meeting and working with my project team. That meant that I was booking my flights, getting ready for my trip, buying a laptop and getting it set up, all while completing the onboarding steps I've been discussing! I received an invite to the Basecamp, and saw pages of research that colleagues had already begun. Cool.

After I got back from my trip, the adjustments in my day-to-day routine started. Because Lullabot is entirely distributed, there's no desk waiting for you on day one: you can set up your workspace at home (or the coffee shop) however you'd like. I decided to rework my existing desk to make the most of my small apartment. (I upgraded to an adjustable standing desk!)

I had been able to work from home now and then at my previous job, but had never worked remotely full time. I'd dreamed of working from my home office, on my own schedule, but I'd always had the safety net of going into the office the next day — so I was a little surprised by what made it difficult.

It's a weird feeling when you realize that you haven't left the house all day. On quiet days when I felt stir crazy, I’d chat my boyfriend's ear off as soon as he arrived home. Once, I was horrified to realize I'd been so caught up in my project that I'd simply forgotten to eat lunch! Now, I try to pay attention, set reminders, take breaks. Deliberately getting out of the building or down to the gym helps me stay active and socialize.

Totally On Board

I've been at Lullabot for almost five months now, and can safely say I've progressed past the onboarding phase. I'm comfortable with my remote office and schedule and I have set up all the accounts and programs I need. I've been lucky enough to collaborate on some great design projects with my team, both for our clients and ourselves. I'm excited to get to know the bots even better! Of course, there is always room to grow, but already I feel like a part of the Lullabot family.

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