excerpt from the upcoming book ‘Without Office’ by E. Mironichev
When someone new has just been added to the team and is still working on a test project, don’t be in a hurry to fully integrate him or her with all of your company’s services and systems. Just like at a brick-and-mortar office, you wouldn’t give the newbie a copy of the keys to all the offices and files right away. You can start by connecting him or her to the online chat (to certain channels), to e-mail, and also by providing partial access to whatever documents are required in Google Drive or Dropbox. As for everything else, integrate the new worker gradually, in due course.
It’s good to have materials on hand explaining the company’s mission (at least briefly) and with information about whatever products and services might be relevant. If you don’t have such materials, then a quick and efficient substitute is to set up an audio or video call with the newbie via Skype. During the call, briefly, talk about your company, lay out the company’s goals and discuss what the team is working on. A succinct overview like this is much more effective than a long series of email messages where you transfer multiple files, and it has the added bonus of helping you polish your pitches for your company.
If you hire several remote employees at once and make a group call, then take note of any questions the new people ask. It’s not a good sign if there are no questions and everyone indicates they’ve “got it.” After all, when your remote workforce is invested in the business, they display interest and curiosity.
“Pay attention to who is and isn’t speaking–and solicit participation from whoever isn’t saying anything. […] you’re seeking an all-inclusive participation, rather than trying to embarrass someone who is shy”, advises Tsedal Neeley, an associate professor at Harvard Business School, in an interview with Inc. Com.
Ideally, you’ll begin integrating a new remote employee into the company long before they actually start working there. It starts with what the future employee learns about the company from the media, blogs, or from colleagues.
This is why many distributed companies actively talk about how they operate. For example, the company Buffer runs a specially created website where it regularly publishes articles on how the company and functions, how teamwork is run, and Buffer even publishes how salaries are calculated and how employees are paid in different countries. Thus, even before new people actually, begin work at the company they can simply go online and decide whether the job and company are right for them. In the same vein, Automattic invites potential employees to watch videos where its employees talk about themselves. Also, many companies with a remote workforce sponsor or organize meetings, conferences, and get-togethers in cities around the world for current and potential employees.
In my experience, it’s faster and easier to connect a remote employee to a distributed team than it is to integrate a new team member in a brick-and-mortar office. And if you face a downturn in sales or on the market it’s easy to scale back operations.
Connecting remote workers, and also letting them go, is much easier than doing the same with brick-and-mortar workers.
– Posting articles and stories online about how a distributed company operates is a good way to attract potential employees long before the hiring process starts.
About the Author
Eugene is our featured author. He is an expert in software products and team management. In 2017, he published a book about remote work and management of remote teams. He writes articles for Forbes and other business magazines and appears as a speaker at tech and business conferences.