Every new employee deserves special attention when joining your team, particularly remote ones. How will you communicate with them? Do they feel comfortable communicating with you? How on earth are you going to get them involved in a company culture which could be based half the world away from them?
These are all problems I’ve faced while growth of our team at Process Street. There’s no need to panic. Here a few of the best practices I’ve learned to help integrate remote team members:
Encourage Formal Introductions
Communication is key in remote teams, and the sooner you get the ball rolling, the better. Because employees won’t be able to stop by each other’s workspaces casually throughout their day, you’ll need to introduce everyone manually.
Welcome them to the team with a special call out via your messaging platform of choice and ask other leaders to make one-on-one introductions.
It’s just as simple as this:
Depending on the formality of your remote setting, you might want to try a longer message, or company-wide announcement email. For our small, close-knit team, a quick Slack intro does a fine job.
Adapt Your Practices
When you hire a new remote employee, not only will you get more work done, but you’ll have an opportunity to adapt your culture to be more remote-centric. Everything needs to be documented so that any information can be recalled at a later date or referred to the rest of the team. To be honest, this is good practice even in fully office-based teams, as it ensures that no vital resources, conversations or ideas go missing.
We achieve this by centralizing all of our communication in Slack and recording all of our progress in tasks and projects with a combination of Process Street and Trello. We also record all of our team meetings in Skype so that anyone not present (or who doesn’t trust their notes) can come back at a later date and listen to the whole thing.
To get this set up in your own company, you need to first decide where you’re going to keep the vital information for employees to refer back to. While some email apps have great search functions, software like Trello and Basecamp is made for this exact purpose.
If you’re having trouble finding time to transfer information into Trello or Basecamp, you can adapt it to the way you currently communicate by using a tool like Zapier or IFTTT to turn your emails into Trello or Basecamp items automatically.
Create Opportunities for Collaboration
Even the best teams won’t necessarily organically create opportunities for new hires to mingle and share their personality, so you’ll need to set the expectation. Create at least a couple of opportunities for teams collaborate and chat about unique, specific topics and questions.
For example, I’m currently doing a stint in our customer support department, because we all take it in turns serving as level 1 support technicians. Not only is it great for making sure we all know the product, but it gives us a common experience that we can casually bring up in conversation when meeting each other.
My recommendation is to include new team members on important projects that need multiple pairs of hands to get them done. Not only will that give new employees the chance to learn and acclimatize to the work environment, but it creates an opportunity for collaboration and communication with the people they’ll be working alongside on a daily basis.
In summary, remember to purposefully create a special experience for new remote employees by focusing on communication and collaboration, and you’ll be well on your way to a happy and productive remote team.