The following post is a guest contribution from Mark Weyland, the Head of Business for Scouted.
Like all organizations who felt the pain of transitioning to remote work, my company Scouted, an AI-powered hiring platform, certainly felt it too. Among all that chaotic stress, we soon realized we’d need to overcome the question of remote onboarding both well and quickly. Scouted’s close and vibrant team culture is critical to us here, and we were determined to keep that energy alive.
Funnily enough, the onus fell on me, Scouted’s Head of Business Development and manager of our intern program, to make sure we’d nail remote onboarding right the first time. Not only was I responsible for welcoming our approaching summer intern class, but I would also make our first remote hire, as we’d soon welcome a new BDR to our BD team, too.
As I thought about what made me feel at home at Scouted when I joined, I remembered how comfortable I felt with my colleagues almost instantly. They ensured I knew I was part of Team Scouted from day one. Aside from assuring my colleagues that our new teammates would execute well, I needed to make sure they, too, felt at home while working remotely (while, incidentally, at home). Here are three tips I devised to provide a more seamless and welcoming transition for new teammates.
Communicate. A Lot. And Often.
Remote work – even if we have partners or families at home with us – can still feel lonely. That loneliness amplifies when you’re on the outside of a close-knit team of colleagues. No chance to bond by the water cooler or to explore neighborhood lunch spots with new teammates.
It’s no surprise that Zoom and Slack have become Scouted’s favorite tools for workplace synergy and connection. Sure, they’re useful for teaching new hires internal processes, introducing folks to new coworkers, and confirming expectations and reviewing projects. But, Team Scouted loves them for helping foster community just as much.
Zoom is an obvious solution for onboarding and meetings, but we knew it could do more. We transitioned our weekly in-person lunches to Zoom, so we could still learn about how we spent our weekends and hear about how someone’s move went. We realized these lunches also offer great opportunities for lunch-and-learns, whether we discuss industry trends or new internal workflows.
I also planned smaller, more intimate Zoom lunches so our new Scouts could get to know other teams and even individual teammates. Not only does it offer a chance for some of that water cooler banter, but it will also facilitate future collaboration more seamlessly.
Swag Idea: Custom reusable straws and branded snack bowls for social lunch hours!
As for Slack at Scouted, it allowed us to institute daily good-mornings and good-nights to begin and end our days with teammates, just like we would in the office. Team Scouted knows when someone is “on” and “off”, but it also reminds us that we’re part of a community. Personally, it helps me transition to the work day with a brighter energy than just flipping open my laptop and beginning to answer emails. Though not quite the same as coming into the office, new Scouts get to feel the collective energy that we’re all in it together.
Slack facilitated making group-sourced themed playlists on Fridays, and we have a #random channel, where we quiz each other on unexpected facts and share interesting articles. We’ve even created a #quoteboard, where we share funny things team members have said so everyone can be in on inside jokes. No Michael Scott moments in the Scouted office, that’s for sure. In a small office where banter was – and is – so important, it helps capture a bit of that same in-person je ne sais quoi.
Swag Idea: Promote company playlists by offering custom headphones or speakers for new hires.
Make Time For Culture
As I mentioned, culture at Scouted is paramount. We know that happy employees do better work, and we strive to maintain our collective collegial atmosphere, even in our remote offices. Getting folks out of their shells and into the mix as soon as possible makes a new hire’s transition more comfortable and quicker than having them live in Excel sheets alone.
Every Thursday afternoon we enjoy a weekly happy hour where we unwind and shoot the breeze. Recently, we added bi-weekly trivia into the rotation, and it has yielded some competitive and entertaining results. It’s been a particularly good method for coaxing some of our more reticent teammates to step into the fore.
Swag Idea: Make virtual happy hours classy by providing beautiful glassware stamped with your logo.
As socially-distanced meetings have become more common in the broader world, we’ve integrated them into our work life as well. We’ve held several in-person picnics, bagel breakfasts and rooftop happy hours. At Scouted, we couldn’t bring all our remote interns together, but reminding everyone we work together as a team – and can be together in person – helped new folks enjoy the benefits of in-person connection, even if only for a short while.
Our most successful idea though? Hosting a spirit week! Since April we’ve held two due to popular demand. For each day of the week, we pick a theme and then encourage fellow Scouts to dress up/participate and then share the results with the team. Some of our most successful ideas? Met Gala day, donate to your favorite charity and share why, and dress up like your favorite fictional character. Our newest hires enjoyed these moments as a way to express their creativity, to share a bit more about their interests, and to come out of their shells.
Outfit Them For Success
Of course, one of the biggest parts of being part of a team is the uniform. Imagine the Knicks without their jerseys or the Olympic gymnastics team without their leotards. Uniforms are what make a team identifiable, what brings disparate people together as a collective. For the bankers of Wall Street, it’s their Patagonia vests and blue duffle bags. For Team Scouted, it’s a range of tees with the history of logos we’ve had along the way. For others, perhaps it’s a pen and paper, maybe candy.
Swag Idea: T-shirts, jackets and even branded sweatpants can instill a sense of company pride from day one (not to mention keep your new talent cozy while WFH.)
Whatever it is for your organization, sending some swag to a new hire will make them feel like they’re joining something bigger than themselves with a common purpose. Your friends at Swag.com can help with this.