4 Tips to Onboarding Remotely at a StartupFeatured

During quarantine, I onboarded remotely at a startup. Doing this was a new and unique challenge that many will likely face moving forward as remote-first becomes a standard. Though I believe that these tips are applicable to onboarding at any remote startup, this particular company has 40 employees across two offices and has the typical startup constraints of low bandwidth and no formal processes. Finding your footing can be difficult in these situations, so here’s what I learned! 1. Take notes and stay organizedOnboarding is a really confusing process, so staying organized is key. Take notes as much as possible at first. You may need to reference back later and it can help you connect the dots or clarify your understanding. Set up a task list, calendar, or workflow for your own responsibilities, and experiment to find whatever works best for you and the team. You can also timebox tasks so that you won’t overextend yourself. Marking timeboxed tasks on your calendar can help with your team’s visibility into your responsibilities and contributions to the team. 2. Collect context + overcommunicateIt can be easy to lose track of how your work fits into the larger organization. When that happens, it’s a slippery slope to feeling disconnected from the group and losing motivation. To remedy that, listening is key! You never know what piece of information is crucial to helping you piece things together. Make sure you overcommunicate and be visible - talk in public slack channels and send follow up action items after meetings. Redundant communication is better than under communication. Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions! If there’s ever a time to ask obvious questions, it would be during onboarding. 3. Make it better for those who come after youI recommend turning your notes into process or knowledge documents. Even if things change down the line, it can help you clarify your own understanding and identify gaps. Bringing these documents or observations to others on your team can help the group identify gaps or holes that will need to be filled for those who come after you, and is a quick and easy win for you to start contributing to the team. 4. Finally, take it easy and remember to enjoy! It's really easy to feel like you should be learning faster, but onboarding isn’t a race - you got here because everyone believes you have something to add to the team, so don’t get down on yourself. Remember that almost all of us are newly adjusting to remote work environments, and many companies went remote out of necessity and may not have “adding new employees remotely” as a competency.Make sure you get to know others in the company. It can go a long way to help you feel like part of the team. I’ve found that personal check-ins with others are an easy way to do this (How was your weekend? Have you seen anything good on Netflix lately? How is the family and pets?). Everyone who joins a new company is excited about it. Don’t let the pressure of getting up to speed dull the enthusiasm of being there!