Onboarding Remotely

Tuesday, August 18th, 2020|

Like many aspects of work-life, the onboarding process has to be adapted to meld with our increasingly remote workforce. As it has become evident that the global pandemic is not subsiding anytime soon, companies have to decide to either completely stop work or find unique ways to keep their gears turning. 

Onboarding, whether remote or in-person, is essential to the development of empowered, dedicated, and productive teams. A successful onboarding process allows for greater employee retention and reduced spending on the more costly process of new hires. Here are some things to keep in mind if you are remotely managing employees and find yourself having to do onboarding remotely: 

Utilize the technology that is already widely available: Thankfully, many companies hopped on the work-from-home train long before a pandemic accelerated this transition across the globe and technology was already central to how many of us function. Collaboration technology such as monday.com or Trello has been popping up everywhere, allowing you to manage a team remotely. Applications such as  Zoom or MS teams allow us to stay connected by holding video conferences remotely, and Google Docs, or Asana allows teams to collaborate on projects and documents remotely. All of which will be useful when formulating a remote onboarding process. 

Keep the communication going: Communication is a central part of the onboarding process, especially when managing employees remotely. In many geographies,  working in an in-person office environment is not possible currently and communication can often be lost or muddled. During the onboarding process, it is imperative to give feedback to the new hire, to set clear expectations, and to present your new hire an opportunity to give feedback, voice concerns, and ask questions. In this environment, over-communication is a key to success: Plan daily huddles, weekly video meetings, use Slack, or other messaging tools to keep the lines of communication open.  During the onboarding phase, it’s key to evaluate progress, build rapport, and set clear expectations.  

Document your SOPs  Build a library of your standard operating procedures so that new hires (and the rest of the team for that matter) can easily access this relevant info.  This will save you and other managers from responding to the same questions over and over, as well as set the standards needed for the team to adhere to.  Tools such as Loom, Screenomatic, or Trainual are critical in creating a knowledge bank of best practices and training.

Remote does not have to mean impersonal: Working from home can feel lonely or disconnected, so it is essential that although you are onboarding remotely, you make new hires feel as welcome as they would if they were walking into your office on their first day. Do this by sending a welcome gift from Snackmagic or the Goodgrocer, reaching out on their first day with a welcome message, scheduling a Zoom team lunch with the whole team to provide a genuine introduction, and creating a lasting first impression.  

Keep up the team spirit: Another one of the many aspects of work-life that is must be worked on even more diligently during remote work is company culture. When we cannot physically come together, creating a cohesive work environment becomes increasingly challenging. However, you can translate your company culture remotely by having group Zoom calls that are not work-related but function as a ‘get to know’ us event such as an online cooking event, painting classes, or plan for a virtual scavenger hunt.  You can even co-work remotely, by keeping Zoom on all day during the first few days on the job.

Onboarding is much more than an orientation, it helps assimilate the new hire into their work environment and culture. . Especially when working remotely, it is important to create an ongoing onboarding process that promotes greater efficiency and greater employee retention.  

Working solo from our homes does not mean we have to be in a silo.

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 567th issue of our a.blog

Collaboration & Motivation While WFH

Tuesday, August 4th, 2020|

As we continue to navigate the ‘work from home’ sphere, one that might be new for many of us, we must maintain clear communication with other members of our team. Although it may feel impersonal to communicate through a screen, the technology at our fingertips and the resources it provides allows us to communicate intuitively and efficiently, avoiding any misunderstandings that arise when we cannot meet in person. 

Open communication: As is often the problem with technologically-mediated communication, the meaning of something can be lost or misconstrued. Therefore, open communication is now more important than ever. This can mean anything from being clear about expectations for a certain project to outlining deadlines and expressing obstacles that crop up along the way. Knowing what your team needs from you, and being honest about your ability to fulfill that need allows for more effective collaboration.  Collaboration tools such as Trello, Jira, or Basecamp come in handy to review progress and set expectations.  

Keep in touch with team members: There are many efficient ways to keep your team accountable when managing a WFH group. For example, programs like Slack or Monday.com help communicate with teams at-large, manage tasks, and organize multiple projects occurring at once. Slack, for example, allows you to communicate with single members of your team or specific groups of people working on certain tasks. It also allows you to create ‘channels’ for certain projects, where different members can post documents, raise questions, or provide updates. When possible, hop on a quick Zoom video call to connect, or use Loom to record an explainer video.

Time management: Managing one’s time while working from home can be increasingly challenging when it feels like work-life and home-life are merging into one without clearly defined boundaries. However, it is important to set priorities for oneself to manage tasks efficiently. To set priorities, it is crucial to understand the bigger picture or the larger goal your team has. This is yet another reason why clear communication is so important. By understanding what it is your team is trying to achieve, you can prioritize your tasks to efficiently contribute to that end goal. 

Self-motivation: As many of us have adapted to the WFH lifestyle, there has been some concern about keeping motivated and on task when working from home. Setting clear expectations and a work-life-home-life separation is imperative for holding ourselves accountable for the work that must be completed. This begins with overcoming procrastination

Home-life places obstacles in the way of productivity–children, pets, making dinner, laundry, cleaning random cabinets– allowing procrastination to be a constant temptation. One way to stop procrastinating is to simply remove distractions. For example, if your phone distracts you, turn it off and place it in a random drawer in your house, thereby requiring a greater amount of energy to reach it, making it less of a distraction. You can also mitigate the procrastination temptation by using reward-based motivation. For example, tell yourself that after you finish your project you will be able to use your phone again. Giving yourself a reward after each task you complete will foster greater motivation to do so. 

We are all in this together and knowing how to function within our “new normal” will allow us to continue progressing forward even when our world has been put on pause. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 566th issue of our a.blog

20 Remote Meeting Best Practices

Tuesday, April 28th, 2020|

By staying safe at home, and seeing nearly all interviews and meetings transitioning online, we wanted to share twenty remote meetings best practices we’ve learned over the past ten years of working exclusively as a remote team.

Whether you are having ongoing daily team huddles, interviewing for a new opportunity, meeting a client or prospect via video for the first time, it’s important to keep the following pointers top of mind:

Equipment

  1. Ensure your device and headphones are fully charged or plugged in prior to your meeting.
  2. Whether you are Zooming, using Facetime, Google Hangouts, or another tool, test your device’s audio and video connections before the actual meeting.
  3. Look right at the camera when you speak. If you only look at the screen itself it’ll appear as if you’re not making eye contact with the attendees.
  4. With everyone working from home, combined with homeschooling for many others, ensure that you are in a quiet place with enough wifi bandwidth.
  5. Adjust your device screen to ensure your head and shoulders appear in the frame – don’t get too close or move too far away from the camera.
  6. Be stationary and mount any handheld devices such as your mobile phone or iPad so you aren’t “traveling” with your device. It’s distracting and disrespectful.

Environment

  1. Let your family or roommate know you’ll be on camera to avoid unexpected noise or interruptions.
  2. Practice your on-screen time and record yourself if possible.
  3. Adjust the lighting so your face is front-lit without any shadows.
  4. Keep an eye on your posture. Adjust your lighting as needed.
  5. Pay attention to your surroundings—especially your background. Select a clean, neutral, and distraction-free backdrop like a wall, a screen, or a panel of curtains. Close closet doors, make your bed and clean the clutter. If you are unable to do so, use zoom’s virtual backgrounds to create a branded look. You can find many examples on Canva.
  6. If you are presenting or screen sharing, make certain you have a clean, uncluttered desktop and if needed, change your desktop wallpaper to something creative and professional.

Engagement

  1. Confirm time zones in case you are meeting with someone in another state or country.
  2. Speak clearly and succinctly. Use your voice, tone, and body language to communicate and connect. Use modified hand gestures as needed or gently lean in when making a point.
  3. There can be a slight delay in communication, so be mindful not to talk over the other person.
  4. Mute when not speaking (just remember to un-mute when it’s your turn to talk).
  5. Dress and groom as if you are meeting in person. Working from home still requires being professional.
  6. If in a larger gathering, become familiar with layout views so you can fully engage with everyone.
  7. If you are making a pitch or presenting your work, have your portfolio or presentation loaded on your desktop to screen share as needed.  Practice Zoom’s presentation tools such as whiteboard, and annotation to create a bigger impact on your audience.
  8. Be friendly and smile while talking. It lifts and warms your voice, which helps you to connect with the group.

In 2009, we decided that the benefits of a successful remote environment outweighed the stresses of the daily commute. We love it and firmly believe in the life/work integration that being a remote company provides our team. If working in a remote setting is new for you, please check out this video and our additional blogs on the subject matter.

WE hope you’ve enjoyed the 559th issue of our a.blog

Managing Remote Teams

Tuesday, March 17th, 2020|

As the events of this week have progressed and social distancing has become a real thing, it’s important to re-evaluate all our emergency plans and policies to ensure we are prepared as a business to stay healthy.

The safety and health of our team members, talent and clients are of the utmost importance. Many businesses are needing to make the transition to working from home quickly, and here at Artisan Creative, we have had the privilege of working remotely for the past 10 years.

I’d like to share the three key things I’ve learned as a leader that remote workers need.

TLC: Technology, Leadership, and Communication

Technology
The advent of technology makes the process of going remote so much easier than when we first ventured into this space 10 years ago. Tools such as Zoom and Slack can bring the team together fast to create cohesiveness and connection.

Leadership

Trust is the key component of leadership. Knowing and believing that our teams know what they need to do, and have the capacity and know-how to do so. If not, it becomes our responsibility as leaders to train, set expectations and share tools for our teams to be successful in challenging times. In a time of crisis and uncertainty, our teams need us to trust them, remain solid and calm and create a plan of action.

Communication

There is a big difference between being solo and working at home, vs. being in a silo and working alone. Communication and collaboration are key components of setting a standard for achievement in a remote setting. The cadence of zoom meetings, slack channels and maintaining culture online are critical for a cohesive, productive team.

This past week, we held a webinar for several clients who wanted to learn more about our remote process. The recording is available here for download.

For many of the talent who are working remotely for the first time, rest assured there is an entire community of freelance talent who has tested and tried this format. If you have questions, reach out. Over the years we’ve written several blogs on this topic to help transition into this alternative way of working together.

Additional resources for both our clients and our talent can be found here.

For more related articles on this topic check out:

We hope you’ve enjoyed the 556th issue of our a.blog.