It was my first day. I had just joined the team at Aha! and was eager to get started. Exactly what “getting started” would look like was unclear to me. This was also my first time working with an entirely remote team. I knew I would open my laptop, log in… and then what?
Fortunately, my question was answered very quickly. Early that day, a note went out to the entire company sharing a bit of my background and welcoming me to the team. My inbox quickly filled with friendly responses. And as the day went on, I continued to hear from my new co-workers over email, instant messages, and video meetings.
It was almost overwhelming when so many people reached out to say they were happy to have me on the team!
We continue this welcoming spirit today. When someone new joins, we work to get them involved right away — as soon as they accept the new role. Systems are set up and we send a welcome package with a new computer and some books to read. By the time new team members log in on that first day, video meetings are already scheduled and a personalized onboarding plan is in place.
It sends an important message from day one: Joining a remote team does not mean you are on your own.
If you are joining a remote company, you might also wonder what day one looks like. From our experience as an entirely remote company, here is what should happen during the first week:
Understand the company vision
Of course, you need tactical information when you start (benefits plans, where to log vacation time, etc.) but you also need to understand the greater mission. For example, within a week of joining Aha!, new team members meet with our CEO who gives a presentation on our values, goals, and plans for the future. Despite the fact that our team is growing rapidly, he still makes this presentation a priority. It is important that each person understands where the company is headed and why — as well as how their work fits into it.
1:1 with your manager
Your manager should take the lead in setting this up on your first day. Ideally, it will be early in the day so you can get off to a good start — helping you to understand your schedule and expectations for that first week. You can also use the time to ask about your day-to-day tasks moving forward. (But remember you do not need to know everything right away.) Your manager should put a recurring 1:1 on your calendar to help guide and answer questions you have as you move forward.
Join weekly meetings
Again, this responsibility falls to your manager or team lead. They should ensure that you are added to any recurring team meetings. And when you join those meetings for the first time, grab a bit of the spotlight. We do this at Aha! when people first join our all-company video call. The new person is asked to come on camera to introduce themselves. As they talk about their background, the team fires off questions in the chat box: “What is your favorite food?” “Best place you ever traveled?” The new person then has one minute to answer as many questions as they can. It is a fun — and fast! — way to get to know new team members.
Get to know teammates
Your team can help you understand the ropes and give you additional perspective on your new role. You might find that teammates will reach out to you to say hello or even schedule a 15-minute meeting to connect (I was fortunate enough to have this be my experience!) But consider that people are often heads-down working, so if you do not hear from new coworkers, be proactive and schedule a meeting to introduce yourself.
You need to make an extra effort to get to know people outside your immediate team. (After all, as a remote worker, you will not be running into people in the hallways.) So, ask your manager how often you will interact with other teams on a regular basis. Then, if possible, set up meetings with a few cross-functional teammates — whether it is a peer or a team lead — to further understand how your work may overlap.
Find a local cohort
You might be surprised how many of your remote teammates are actually close by. For example, Aha! is distributed across the world — but we have several teammates who live in the same areas and occasionally meet up for lunch or to work together at a coffee shop. Seeking out people in your same city (or even state) is a great way to connect and show some team spirit.
The first day of any job is exciting. But for a remote role, it is essential to jump in quickly — no time to wait.
Hopefully, your first day on a remote team will be similar to mine — filled with lots of friendly welcomes and key meetings set up by your new company. But remember that you also need to be proactive and reach out to colleagues on your own.
This is the best way to get folded into the team — so you are never left wondering what comes next.
What would you add to the list?