Building New Teams from Scratch During a Pandemic: The Case of Wix Denver

Any company that’s been recruiting during COVID-19 is well aware of the challenges related to remote hiring and onboarding. 


It’s one thing to maintain a culture and sense of togetherness with an existing team or group; It’s a totally different thing to try and infuse that culture into new teams, who have never been to the office or met any of their colleagues in person. 


Since the pandemic started, Wix has hired more than 400 people in the U.S alone. That’s a huge number, and there’s a good reason for that. 


In a time of social distancing and new remote life routines, businesses around the world reached a pivotal moment: brick and mortar businesses turned into e-comm ones, restaurants turned to online orders and deliveries and events went 100% virtual. Our platform offers a wide array of tools for creating a professional online presence - and provides these businesses, as well as individuals and communities, exactly what they need. We had to grow in order to support our existing and new users. 


While we scaled our existing teams all over the U.S, we also opened an entirely new site in Denver, focused mainly on Customer Care. This was an entirely new location for Wix, with no existing proxy. 


Why Denver? 

We started our research in March, during the first month of COVID-19. After considering many different factors, we selected Denver as the place we see as the best fit for our business and cultural needs: great tech talent, great know-how related to customer service, and a culture very similar to ours - human, professional, easy going and fun.


Challenges

The first challenge we faced was doing everything remotely. As an online presence company, we’re pretty accustomed to doing things online - but building a new team is a totally different game, where people and personal connections are crucial for success. 


In normal times, we’d probably just get on a plane and meet with local people, check out office spaces, meet with agencies and get to understand the local vibe; During these times, we managed to make all of these connections without physical presence. To be honest, most of the team members who’ve been working on this project have actually never been to Denver before.


The second challenge was the fact that we started this new adventure without having a local manager who could take a leading role and build the team with a strong understanding of the local market.


And, of course, this was all happening in times of a global pandemic, with great uncertainty that affected the entire talent market. 


With this in mind, we set foot in Denver (virtually, that is).


Building Wix Denver

To overcome these challenges and ensure the new site is 100% Wixy - both on the professional and the cultural aspects - we divided our efforts to 4 main pillars: 


Local Leadership

We started with hiring our local leaders - our Customer Care leadership and Talent Acquisition Partner. They gave us a much better understanding of the Denver culture. For example, we learned from them how important volunteering and giving back to the community are in Denver. Local knowledge was the key to success :) 


We also decided to encourage a few tenured managers who are relocating from other Wix sites to Denver to help build the site and create the Wix culture. Though they haven't actually moved yet due to the WFH reality, they shifted their attention to Denver and are heavily involved with the teams there, creating the bridge between our established sites and our new location.


Refocusing Recruitment

We built our recruitment process in a way that provides our candidates as much information as possible about Wix - but in a very granular way: our vision and mission, the way we see things, our values, our culture, our lives as individuals and teams. It was important to us to create engagement from the earliest steps. We involved people from the other sites in the U.S to share their insights with our candidates - since they’re the ones who know the day-to-day of the role, we wanted our candidates to hear it directly from them before making a decision about their career path. They’re also the people who know the Wix culture best, and could easily explain what kind of company Wix is.


Even though we don’t have a physical office space yet and can’t grab a cup of coffee together before we dive into professional conversation, we've been trying to connect on a personal level by talking about our personal journey, hobbies, daily routines and feelings during WFH. With all the downsides of this situation, the good thing is that it enables us to create a new level of intimacy: we get to see the candidate's home, family members, pets - and they see ours. Now more than ever, it’s vital that people feel excited and confident about their decision and fully prepared for the new journey - accommodating them with everything they need to start.



Culture-Focused Onboarding

Once we hired our first teams, we connected them with the professional mentors from the other sites (MIA & SF). This allowed them to have an open channel of communication, enabling them to discuss any questions about their role, feel more connected to the organization and bond with people and peers. We also organized Orientation Days that connect new team members to the company and give them a strong understanding of the Wix Business, Culture, and way of life (we call it “The Wix Way”).


Day-to-day Culture

Building a new team remotely, let alone a new site, isn’t a one-off thing. It’s dynamic, and requires thought every single day. We try to do this with ongoing activities and “ceremonies” that keep the team spirit high. We start with morning team meetings or huddles, and make sure to do weekly check ins and 1-on-1s with each team member. Our teams have “buddies” from established sites and keep ongoing communications with their global counterparts.


We also try to live up to the fun part of working at Wix, with inspirational talks, remote happy hours and team “innings”, creative challenges and quizzes. Putting a smile on people’s faces at the end of the day is just as important as giving professional guidance and support.    


Now more than ever we’re growing, as we need to support our users during COVID-19. We’re on a mission :) And by the way, we’re still growing in Denver. You’re welcome to check out our openings here


This article originally appeared on the Denver Startup Week Blog.


Donata Garliauskaitė, Head of U.S Recruitment at Wix

This blog was created with Wix Blog