Voices of Remote Work
4 min

How to Get the Most Out of Remote Onboarding | Johannes Nagl of Swat.io

For Walking Meetings & Remote Work

When onboarding employees in a remote setting, it can be hard to ensure that new team members are learning their roles in an effective way. We spoke with Johannes Nagl, CEO of Swat.io, to see how he engages with new employees and what tips he has to make sure they have a welcoming experience. 

Spot: Your company is fairly small  - are you starting to look more globally to find new people? 

Johannes: We have about 40 people in total and we have hired at least 10 people within the last 3 years. And since then we now have people from Australia, from Israel, from Greece - so all over the place. Finding developers is always difficult but simply increasing the potential candidates to more or less worldwide of course is helping a lot in bringing more people into the funnel. 

S: In one of your tweets you state “All team-wide/company-wide meetings are video-first. Interviews are done remote.” Tell me more about the remote interview. What is the drive to have the interview remote? 

J: I don’t see any reason why you shouldn't do the first round or second round remotely with your people, even in your city. We had one case where one person was applying for a job that was  living next door and we still did it remotely! Of course this was at the peak of Corona about one and a half years ago. We could wave at each other through the windows! But in general, having people do interviews remotely is so much easier, because you don’t need to commute somewhere and it is just very natural nowadays to have those remote meetings.

A: What would you say are your top tips or tricks for fostering a remote team and successful remote onboarding?

J: With onboarding itself it definitely starts with the recruiting process. So the more you are interconnecting with the candidates, the easier the onboarding will be. Having a very structured onboarding is definitely helpful. So we have some tasks for the HR Team to onboard all new people which are shared with the new teammates so that they know what to expect. We have this approach where you can get up to speed in a very structured process, but it’s not over complicated.

Last but not least, the more you write down and share transparently with everyone within the company, the easier it is for new people to understand all of the decisions that have been made and the history of the company. So be very transparent in what you are doing and share it to everybody in the company. 

A: That is really good advice and so, so true. So how do you ensure that happens? For example, do you continue to do follow-ups with your new people over a period of time and what does that look like? 

J: What we have seen, especially in the first 1 or 2 days, is that everyone is flooded with information, so we try to stay away from this concept. We make sure that all the basic accounts are set up - like Gmail or Slack - and then we let people do their business on their own for about 1-2 days to get familiar with everything. Then the team gives them the first tasks - with a lot of direct interaction and meetings of course. After 7 days, I do a quick check-in and see if everything is fine and if they are happy. 

Also, everyone joining our company will have a checkup with every team we have in the company. It's like we take every new person and let them sit virtually with every team. They can talk to them and make sure that there is some kind of bonding so they know who's working on each team and why we have those teams.

A:  Given that your employees are working remotely, what are you doing to support employee wellness and satisfaction? 

J: This changes depending on what’s going on! Right now we have “Mindful May” where we encourage everyone to participate in a bingo activity where you can share specific activities that you are working on outside of work to make sure that your work life balance is appropriate.

And we offer many after work activities too. We try to strike a balance between remote options where everyone can participate, but of course there are some onsite activities because at least two-thirds of our headcount is still based here in Vienna. Because of that, it's easier to bring everyone together here in Vienna for an outing or dinner. 

Are you a leader in the remote work space with a perspective on how to onboard remote employees? Then we want to hear from you! Book time with a Walking Coach here.

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