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7 things to Help Onboard People onto Remote Teams

by Zane Gambasin, 02 April 2020

While onboarding new starters onto remote teams may feel like a big or risky job, it’s actually not that different from onboarding in-person. It may require a little more preparation and planning, but the  themes are still the same:

  • Ensure the right people are joining the team
  • Provide context for the project and information on who and where to get help
  • Make them feel welcome 
  • Checking-in and giving feedback regularly

With that in mind, we’ve put our heads together and come up with seven things we’ve learned at 101 Ways to help ensure new team members onboard and embed into remote-working teams well, so they can deliver successfully. 

1) Remote interviews, offers and contracts

The 101 Ways interview process has three main stages: 

  • Initial screening; 
  • Technical interview; and 
  • A ‘Ways of Working’ discussion

The initial screenings and ‘Ways of Working’ chats can easily be done by phone or video call.

During the technical interviews, prospective 101 software engineers are given a problem statement which they have to analyse and build a solution using code. They are then paired with an interviewer – such as our CTO Odhrán McConnell – to explain their approach and the thinking behind it as they wrote it. This way, we can see their problem-solving and collaboration skills. 

While it’s great to do this in person, we have conducted a large proportion of these using video conferencing and screen-sharing tools with ease and to great effect. 

Once the engineer has passed all the stages, offers are done verbally via phone or in writing by email. Once they’ve accepted, contracts are prepared and signed by both sides using tools like DocuSign

2) Remote inductions onto projects

With our consultants being a mix of remote and on-site, we have learned – and refined – over the years how to remotely induct consultants onto projects. The process includes (but isn’t limited to):

        • Onboarding checklists – know what needs to be done, in what order and who owns which step;
        • Email templates – have pre-prepared email templates to send to consultants which cover:
            • Start date/time and what to expect on their first day;
            • Names/details of supporting contacts on both 101 Ways and client-side;
            • List of systems/tools they will receive invite-access to, and what each is used for;
            • Project details including:
              • Goals
              • Scope
              • Tech Stack
              • Current progress status
              • Team/People
              • Stakeholders
              • Where to get help
        • Onboarding calls
            • Hold a dedicated onboarding project call for new starters before they start
            • Have a prepared agenda and Q&A time to walk through all the details of the project
        • New starter introductions to the wider team(s)
            • An email to the team to confirm the new consultant’s name, start date, role
            • Compose and share a ‘welcome message’ on the relevant team chat tool such as Slack or Microsoft Teams
            • Introduction at the first video call standup they attend

3) Dedicated remote working ‘buddy’

Give each new starter a buddy who’s been on the project for a while to help them settle in. Connect them up and encourage them to chat each day, particularly for the first two-to-three weeks to ensure they feel comfortable, supported and any niggles are ironed out before they become problems.  

4) Equipment logistics

Many clients require people working on client projects to use special laptops and/or equipment for security and privacy reasons. This is easily managed by ensuring anything needed is sent by courier to consultants directly prior to the engagement starting,  along with instructions on how to setup/access. 

5) New starter ‘care’ packages

While you’re not obliged to do this, we think it’s a nice touch to send a care package to any new starters in a team. In the past, we have sent things like t-shirts, stickers, water bottles, snack boxes, and reusable coffee cups amongst other things. While small, we believe these little things help people feel more connected and show we care. 

6) Check-ins

With all new starters, we regularly check-in with them over and above ‘buddy’ check-ins. These help support our consultants to ensure they’ve landed and embedded well onto projects and include calls with the 101 Ways Talent Team and the designated 101 Ways Site Lead (a senior consultant on the project) so we (and they) know, they have everything they need to deliver successfully.

7) Feedback

It is vital to anyone’s success that they receive constructive feedback. We strongly encourage our consultants and clients to share feedback regularly and openly. What is going well, what could be better, what is not understood? This way, they always know where they stand and how to continuously improve.

While we’re all facing a shift in our ways of working, we hope this list has been helpful in clarifying how we tackle remote onboarding and showing that it can be straightforward and a positive process for both you as a company and any consultants/employees you choose to bring on either during the current crisis or as part of any future digital transformation. 

If you want to have a no-strings chat about remote onboarding in more depth or any other worries you may have while your workforce is operating remotely then don’t hesitate to reach out and get in touch. We’re all in this together.

 

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