These are strange times for everyone. Imagine starting out in a new remote job when all you’ve ever been used to is going to an office and seeing all your colleagues face-to-face every single day. A new job: exciting! Meeting all your colleagues only through a screen: scary? It doesn’t have to be.
We help companies adopt a more remote mindset as part of our collaboration. Unfortunately, in the last few months, we’ve had to help companies without prior experience move quickly towards remote work.
We’ll share some tips on how to ease the pain for new employees joining your remote team and how to improve your onboarding flow.
How to onboard employees in a remote company?
If you want to see how our first 3 days at madewithlove look like, take a look at our previous article on remote onboarding.
Introduce members of your team before day 1
A good hiring process already provides opportunities to have interviews with different people in the company. This is a win-win situation. The applicant gets to know different people before even joining and the company can avoid recruiter biases. This will make it easier on day 1 to already have a link with some people.
At madewithlove, we avoid recruiter bias by anonymising the technical assignment for example. The reviewers are not aware whoms code they are reviewing.
Pair new employees with a buddy
Ask around in your team who would like to be a buddy, preferably a peer instead of a supervisor or team lead. This buddy does not necessarily need to work on the same project, it can be even more fruitful and focussed if they don’t. A buddy can help the new team member find their way around in the remote company and answer any questions they might have. For more practical help, the buddy can always refer to another colleague who could help out. If you set up a regular schedule for checking in with the new team member, you’ll quickly make them feel at home and part of the company.
We follow this rule for check-ins:
- First month: at least twice a week
- Second month: at least once a week
- Third month: at least twice a month
Of course, these numbers can be adapted towards the person. Some people need more assistance, some people can do with less frequent check-ins.
Create space for a social introduction with the team
Make a social introduction call part of your onboarding routine on the first day that someone joins the team. This will make it easier for the new team member to get to know their direct colleagues and to introduce themselves to the team in a more personal way. At madewithlove, we have a short weekly sync to kick off the week every Monday at noon. This moment is usually a good moment to welcome new employees.
Topics for such an introduction could be:
- Information about yourself
- Role within the company
- Projects you’re working on
- Topics to reach out to you for
Collaborating vs reading documentation
Yes, it’s important to have documentation on the company: the history, how it operates, how you as an employee fit in, etc. And the same goes for project documentation: the more you have available, the easier it is to refer a new team member to the documentation to read up on the things you’ve been working on for years.
But here’s the tricky part: it will be hard to feel like part of the team if your first job is to read all the documentation that is available. This could take days or weeks in some cases.
As an alternative, you could provide crucial information first and slowly add new information as your fresh team member gets more context of the project they are working on. This will make it a lot less boring in their first days and they can start working with the team and thus decrease the time needed to feel like part of the team.
The buddy we talked about earlier, can play a big part in this. They can check how much context the new team member has or needs and provide new information as time passes.
Schedule 1-1s with their direct manager
Next to the calls with a buddy, it’s also important that you, as a manager, connect with your new team member. This should make it easier for them to reach out to you for help when needed. These 1-1 calls also serve as a platform to align on expectations. It can be challenging to find your place at the start of a new job, so aligning on expectations is key to set your new team member up for success as quickly as possible.
Facilitate introductions outside of the team
Your company might be bigger than just the team that your new hire is joining. So to make it easier to understand how the organization works as a whole, try to create a fun system in which existing team members on other teams or departments reach out to your new team member, e.g. create a Slack bot that pings 3 random people in the company to organize a coffee break with the new hire.
Do you have any other tips on how to onboard new team members in a 100% remote environment?
Other interesting reads on working remote
- The tools we use to work remotely
- Remote is not a substitute
- Working remote: a new user’s perspective
- Remote vs offshoring in software development
- The war on talent: hiring remote developers