September 18, 2019
Onboarding remote team members is the unspoken boogeyman in corporate climes.
Most times, companies often feel the need to hire beyond their immediate geographic region in response to a need to either diversify or take advantage of a talent pool. It's even more difficult when you are onboarding remote team members for the first time since it's largely uncharted territory.
Well, you can trust us at Almabase to venture into this uncharted territory. Mind you, we didn't step gingerly into this "territory. Rather, we waded into it by hiring not one but three amazing remote team members. Although we've had experience with temporary freelancers in the past we had previously never taken the bold step of completely integrating them into the team.
So, why did we take this bold step?
For teams like Buffer and Zapier where entire teams are remote, it might have been a cakewalk. However, in our case, only a part of our team was going to be remote, while the rest wasn’t. So the culture, bonding, etc. would be different for each of these groups because of their very nature, even though we all were working towards the same goal. This non-homogeneity in the team is what we ideally wanted to bridge.
We decided to redefine the onboarding process by inviting them over to India. For two whole weeks, we desired to create a bond beyond the remote workplace culture - we aimed to create a more cordial & comfortable work environment.
In retrospect, this is undoubtedly one of the most daring yet rewarding projects.
Did any of you have that apprehensive feeling - when you know that you’re on the right path but at the same time, you’re paranoid about the things that can go wrong?
Perhaps, a walk through our apprehension about this novel approach to remote work culture will show you how big a deal it was.
First, the culture shock was our major concern. Coming from the western part of the world to a place like India seemed rather challenging for our new teammates.
Second, we were concerned that the team might not get along due to the vast differences in cuisine, topics of interest, and even goals. Let's not forget the stereotype of too much spiciness in Indian cuisine. So, we planned to tone down on the spiciness on our menu & increased our office’s hygiene to extra cautious levels.
Thirdly, we were doing all of this for the first time.
We often wondered if all of this was needed.
At the end of the day, we just wanted to ensure that our teammates felt at home away from home in our own way.
Firstly, it was so super smooth & easy.
All our apprehensions were taken care of within the first day. Our US colleagues were absolutely comfortable eating Indian food, walking around barefoot and figuring out anything else for that matter. It didn’t take long for the Soon, the entire team to turn into a homogeneous group.
Secondly, the bonding & connect we all felt with each other in just 2 weeks was unparalleled.
Even a year of friendly chats via video-conferencing would not have brought us this close to actually knowing our teammates this well. Exchanging views, opinions, and all conversations in-person physically helped us in knowing each other better. It truly helped us as a team, in reaching out to anybody in the team, without hesitating.
This we feel, is pivotal to the growth of a small startup such as ours.
Thirdly, it was a great learning experience for each of us.
Physically being present allowed us to bond outside of work and all of us got to learn something new about one another. It was refreshing to see how talented some of our teammates are. Yes, we’re talking about our in-house Taekwondo master, Kat, who hosted a kick-ass session for all team members.
If you have a remote team, having them fly over to a place to meet the rest of the team is an experience that surpasses and is a 100 times better solution to an end number of catch-ups on zoom calls.