On my first full day of work at Axelerant, I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do and what is expected of me.
It’s not an unusual feeling, especially when you’re just hours into a new job. To clarify, this had nothing to do with Axelerant or any of my co-workers. They were all friendly and welcoming, encouraging me to take my time getting adjusted to my first remote position.
Still, I had this lingering fear at the back of my mind: I was used to seeing my coworkers and supervisors on a daily basis, and using in-person skills to gauge how I was doing. Now, I was missing such an environment and it made me fear about working remotely.
At a later stage however, I realised that Axelerant’s remote team members are very welcoming towards a new hire, and leave no stone unturned to make you feel comfortable and accustomed to the “remote team” culture.
Help New Teammates Find Their Way In a Remote Team
Remote teams can be intimidating for new employees, particularly if they are from a traditional, co-location office setting. One practice that helped me early on at Axelerant was having one co-worker or HR person help me navigate the uncharted waters.
I’m not alone in my desire for camaraderie in a remote workplace. Axelerant recommends the buddy approach to help new hires feel welcome. There’s even science indicating that team members who have friends at work “get sick less often, suffer fewer accidents, and change jobs less frequently.”
HR at Axelerant offers seven tangible takeaways for buddies paired up with new hires:
- Shoot the new hire a quick email before they start, to welcome them to the team. Don’t use email? Slack or any other communication tool will work.
- Offer to be available for any random questions—even the ones that seem silly. (Speaking from experience, new people tend to hesitate on asking genuinely important questions.)
- Check-in with them on your team’s chat app (Axelerant uses Slack) every couple of days in their first week to see how it’s going.
- Reach out to them through chat, hangouts etc., to receive feedback from them in case they are confused about anything.
- Managers, make sure to speak to new hires everyday (including their first day) so that they are aware of projects they are going to work for.
- Tell them about our policies, culture, retreats, tools we use etc., and build up a detailed induction project (For us it is Curamine; read our previous blog to know about tools we use ;))
- Share some ‘unwritten rules’ like the difference between the #general and #shares communication channels in Slack.
Measure Output, Not Input
Michael Cannon, COO at Axelerant, has some strong doubts about the normal 10-to-6 grind, and hence, decided to rescind the ‘Productive Day at Axelerant’. He believes that as we move to be a more mature organisation, there should not be a need of calculating working hours.
Instead, productivity at Axelerant is measured by output, not input.
At Axelerant, we focus on what you create, not whether you live up to some ideal of the ‘good team member’. For developers, that might mean looking at how many commits they’ve had over a given time period. For the support staff, it could be the total number of tickets answered. The underlying message is to find a metric outside of hours spent to evaluate productivity.
One common thread that runs deep across every method of managing a remote team is trust. Remote team members need to trust that their managers are looking out for their best interest. Managers need to trust that their team members are engaged and motivated at work. Part of this trust is built during the hiring process – selecting candidates who are self-motivated—and the rest is built over time with each positive interaction.
Just like in-person office cultures, remote team office cultures can differ wildly. For those of you who work remotely, we’d love to hear of any specific tactics you’ve found helpful in the comments section!
Axelerant is Hiring: Join a remote team that helps people around the world automate the tedious parts of their job. See open positions on the Axelerant job board.