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On Joining a New Company 100% Digitally On Joining a New Company 100% Digitally

Can you imagine taking on a new role, getting up to speed, building relationships and even driving global impact—all without meeting anyone in person? Priyanka Jha, Global eCommerce Capabilities Lead, just did exactly that. Follow her journey.

Priyanka's Digital Path to the eCommerce Team

Think back a few months: early March, still cold in the city where Priyanka lives. Meanwhile, the news cycle and social media seemed to be alternating between reports of rapidly rising COVID-19 infection rates and rumors of radical experimental cures. In a sea of speculation, Priyanka made a bold decision that seemed solid.

After all, hadn't she just found what looked like her dream role in eCommerce on the Johnson & Johnson LinkedIn page? She had. She thought it over for a minute, then clicked "Submit."


Well, not quite. Priyanka certainly might have been able to imagine what would come next—in-person interviews, onboarding, her first day of meetings with a new team—the way it actually played out—digital interview, digital onboard, digital first day—was beyond her or any of our power to predict.


Priyanka Jha, Global eCommerce Capabilities Lead

What was going through that experience like?

"My recruiter Ashley Constantino was very responsive the whole time, during the whole process, which made things easier," Priyanka said. "She really gave me peace of mind. That helped take the anxiety out of the process, which is especially important during these times. Finding a new job during COVID-19 is riddled with anxiety."

Once the offer was made, Priyanka's new manager Surabhi Pokhriyal became her primary point of contact. "We did a few Skype calls at first," she recalled. "From then on we were pretty much constantly in touch."

But there were a few minor hiccups along the way. Take her new-hire-verification documents, for example. "In the past, I would have given my verification documents, my passport or that kind of thing, on my first day to someone in the HR department," Priyanka explained. "But now everything has to be authenticated digitally. At Johnson & Johnson, there's this portal you use, and for obvious security reasons you have to have someone—other than yourself—at some point attest that you are who you say you are. Because of COVID-19, it wasn't possible for to have my family members or friends do it, so I ended up asking my neighbor to upload my passport information to the portal.”

Networking and Building Relationships Despite Distance

Face-to-face interaction has traditionally been an inherent part of relationship- and team-building processes at work. It is fortunate, then, that at least Priyanka's getting no shortage of that.

"I probably spend about one-and-a-half hours on calls with my colleagues most days," she said. "Then I have many more face-to-face video calls with vendors and partners throughout the day."

When she first started out, what's more, she felt she specifically benefited from the fact that her team connected with all cameras turned on. "In past work experiences," she noted, "I felt like everyone sort of hid behind an avatar or photo. For the most part, no one turned their cameras on. But now I always have my camera on. I think it's interesting that COVID-19 has changed behaviors in this way. People seem to be eager to have their cameras on all the time now."

Plus, to support her transition to a new work environment, her manager curated a series of networking "meet-and-greet" calls with key internal and external stakeholders. "That was really helpful," Priyanka said.

Finding a Sliver of Silver Lining

But joining a new team 100% digitally isn't only a story about overcoming obstacles. It's also, as Priyanka has discovered, a situation that can present some surprising advantages.

"I did my first presentation in front of 50 people last week," she recounted, "and my first thought to myself was, 'This is so great!'"


"I was in my own room, at my own desk, in my comfort zone. I didn’t have any of the anxiety I usually get with big presentations. To be honest, addressing a big crowd has always made me kind of nervous. Imagine 50 sets of eyes staring at me! But this time, as I was presenting, I found that I was in zen mode. So that was good."

At least Priyanka's timing in joining our eCommerce team has been auspicious. As you might imagine, the global pandemic has accelerated our shift in focus to eCommerce, which means Priyanka’s at the center of—and even driving—a lot of action these days.

Insights on Digitally Mediated Empathy

Priyanka, a self-described "people person," is by nature finely attuned to all of the shadings, nuances and subtleties that invariably accompany human interactions. "We rely very heavily on these subtle human cues to build relationships," she observed. "And having never met my boss in person, for example, there are a lot of cues I am probably missing."

But her experience joining our team has also given her some fascinating insights around digitally mediated relationship-building in the age of COVID-19.

One simple best practice?

"The opening, say, five to 10 minutes of a 'meet-and-greet' first call should not be all business." (Fortunately, not a challenge she's struggled with here.) "And while it doesn’t necessarily have to be about establishing an emotional connection, it's important to just pause. To share something from your day. To connect on a human level. Then you can both more comfortably move on to other priorities."

Wise advice, indeed.

And despite coming so far in her short tenure already, Priyanka concedes that she still misses a couple of things about more traditional working arrangements, and one thing in particular: "All of the kitchen and water-cooler conversations, casual updates about things that people are working on, what they're struggling with and what's going well. I think, even with digital solutions and alternatives, a lot of those things are going to be hard to replicate. I miss the fun, informal talks that would evolve into collaboration—or just a really enjoyable lunch," she said, with a wistful laugh.

We hear you, Priyanka. We miss them, too. And we can't wait to bring them back.

Join Us (Digitally) Today

In the interim, if you're ready to brave the digital onboarding process—and, like Priyanka, find a welcoming home where you can drive real-world impact—be sure to join our Global Talent Hub. It's an easy was to stay connected, find out more about daily life at Johnson & Johnson and even get updates when jobs become available that might interest you in the future.

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