For first time ever freshers' first day at WOrk is at nome Swati Rathor & Swati Bharadwaj | TNN f | "ad it not been for the COronavirus lockdown, Harsimrat Singh, who graduated this year in BTech in computer science from BML Munjal University, Gurgaon, and landed a job as a software engineer at ServiceNow, would have personalised his office desk by now. "I would also have made full use of all the in-house facilities like the gym, game room, and the cricket pitch," says Singh. For the first time ever, lakhs of freshers joining the tech industry would be spending their first day at work at home. And freshers and companies are finding ways to make it look at least partly like the real thing. LOCKDOWN TRENDS For Rashleen Arora, who interned with US-based financial services player Arcesium's Hyderabad tech centre last year, bagging an offer from the company was a dream come true. But with everyone now working from home, her dream of getting a red carpet welcome at office, like she had seen the 2019 batch get, was dashed. "1 was disappointed 1 would be missing out on all the fun and pampering," she says. But she was pleasantly Surprised by her smooth virtual onboarding this month. Arcesium blocked a calendar for each fresher for the welcome. From the first day, they started receiving communication about Vvarious things, including downloadjing software. "All our seniors were very accessible, we had interactive sessions with the top management. One of my delightfu moments was getting to break the ice with the country head over drinks, thanks to the Barcesium virtual ice-breaker session where all freshers logged on to BlueJeans and sipped drinks as we had an informal chat with the top boss," gushes Rashleen, who is hopeful that the formal office welcome at office will still happen one day. Sovan M, who is set to join an MNC IT firm in the first Hae iE) b o RIS Arcesium freshers interact virtually with company's India managing director Ranvijay Lamba (bottom right) week of May in Pune, says while he is excited to join the company, a WFH would mean he will be spared anxious moments of checking whether all certificates/documents are in place umpteen number of times before the day of joining. He also chuckles that thanks to the lockdown, he won't be forced by his parents to visit a temple before joining Work. Many tech companies are digitally onboarding freshers and HR departments have been rolling out new engagement programmes to make freshers 'feel at office'. Capgemini has launched a buddy program, where the new hire is assigned an emplovyee of the same business unit as 'pbuddy' who can help the new Jjoinee for the first few months with general queries that are not related to work deliverables. Suresh Bethavandu, global head of talent acquisition at Cognizant, says they have published standard operating procedures to enable new hires to WOrk remotely and access learning and skilling material via the internet. "We have wellestablished mentoring processes to aid and guide these new graduates," he says. ServiceNow says team heads and HR have been reaching out to the freshers prior to onboarding to provide an overview of the way teams are functioning remotely in the current situation. There are also initiatives such as 'Coffee Connect', where ServiceNow senior leadership connects with freshers for open conversations and share ideas, and 'Ice breaker' sessions, where team members catch-up with the freshers to discuss randomly chosen topics.