The first day of work can feel a lot like the first day of school. You are filled with excitement — ready to take on a new challenge and meet new people. But if you are joining an entirely distributed company, you might wonder what that first day will be like. Is that first day of working remotely like walking into an empty classroom?
You may start your first day solo — but that alone feeling should not last for long.
Our team at Aha! cultivates a sense of belonging as soon as someone decides to join our team. We work extra hard because we are a fully distributed team with teammates located around the world.
Once they officially accept the job offer, we send each teammate a welcome package — which includes a new computer and some fine Aha! gear, like T-shirts and stickers. This package also includes books that are hand-selected by the team to help the newcomer learn our culture and values. Of course, it includes Lovability, our own bestseller on how to build a company people love.
Aha! is a learning organization, so our goal is to help teammates get going fast — because contributing is what people are eager to do.
But also, research shows that when you spotlight opportunities for learning and achievement, it leads to higher engagement behaviors from new teammates. Of course, feeling part of the team takes more than a few books. It takes an investment from everyone in the company to actively show new teammates that they belong.
Here is how we welcome newbies to our entirely remote team — no matter where in the world they are:
The first day at Aha! always feels like a celebration. This starts with a welcome email sent to the whole company. We introduce the new teammate and share the role they are taking on, where they live, and some fun facts (e.g., pets, hobbies, recent travels). Once this is sent, that person is flooded with messages. Everyone across the company chimes in to say “welcome” via email and instant message.
Share the vision
We want new hires to understand our mission from the start. So, I hold a kick-off meeting with every person during their first week at Aha! to share our values, goals, and what we are working on next. They also meet with group leaders to get more details on the specific goals for their role and how they can be accomplished with the team.
There is no waiting around wondering where your manager is — 1:1 meetings start during that first week. This ensures that people are clear on the expectations, but it also makes them feel part of the team. Research even shows that when new hires meet with managers in the first week, it can boost their “internal network” by 12 percent. Employees who have that internal network feel that they belong and will stay at the company longer.
Take the stage
Every Friday, we have an all-company video meeting and we dedicate some of that time to getting to know our newest teammate. This person gets on camera and introduces themselves to the company. During the introduction, everyone sends questions in the chat window of our web conferencing software. We call it “Ask an Aha! Almost Anything.” The new teammate then has one minute to answer as many questions as they can. (Yes, we use a timer for an added layer of fun.)
Invite to chat
Formal meetings are not the only opportunity to plug in. Many newcomers connect in our group messaging tool, where we have rooms to chat about a variety of interests — from sports and entertainment to pets and travel. They can also participate in a fun program where people are randomly paired with someone else in the company to have a 15-minute get-to-know-you chat.
New teammates are not left to make connections entirely on their own. As they are going through our onboarding program, they get a buddy who coaches, gives assignments, and supports the process. And when the new teammate attends their first onsite (the in-person meeting we hold twice a year), we invite them to a rookie reception to ease into the event. We use the reception to let them know what to expect and to offer a special welcome toast.
Remote teams need to put in extra effort to connect, but the bonds they develop are unique and strong.
I am proud to say this is the case for our Aha! team. This group is truly connected because every single person puts in the hard work to make it happen. It is the most welcoming environment I have ever worked in. And I think our new teammates will tell you the same.
How have you been welcomed to a new team?
Our team is happy, productive, and hiring — join us!