A fully remote person joined my team. Here are 7 things I learned about working with a new teammate virtually

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My team has been working remotely for over two years now—and that arrangement is here to stay, permanently. But something happened recently that got me thinking about team dynamics.

Firstly, just about everyone on my team has been with RingCentral since before the pandemic—which is no small feat in the era of the Great Resignation. And we’ve all met face to face before, whether it was in the office or at offsites we held once a year in the San Francisco Bay Area. 


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But two months ago, something happened that shook up the team dynamics in ways we weren’t accustomed to yet. We added a new, fully-remote hire to the team.


What made this different?

Honestly, our new teammate has been as awesome as ever, and lord knows how long we’ve needed that position backfilled (a sentiment I’m sure we’re all too familiar with). 

But unlike the rest of the team, he joined completely remotely. I didn’t have any visibility into his onboarding like I would in an office.

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I went on vacation and didn’t tell my boss (shhh…)

This presented some unique challenges: When could I start bugging him? Was he on the RingCentral app yet? Was he still onboarding? Were my colleagues already bombarding him with messages and meetings? 

It’s now been a few months since he joined our team, and we’ve all settled into our roles now. But I’ve learned a lot about working with a new remote teammate—and with so many others in this position, I have a few tips to share.


1. A warm welcome makes a huge difference

Being the new person on any team is never easy. In fact, it can be even more isolating in remote workplaces where people might not even know a new hire exists.

The best way to start integrating someone new on your team is with introductions. When our new teammate started, we introduced them to our broader team in the RingCentral app. 

We welcomed him in our “All Marketing” and “Content Marketing” teams and shared details such as his previous company, job title, time zone, and some of his interests too. Of course, this was followed by a wave of warm welcomes by everyone else in the marketing team.

2. Introduce yourself

A great welcome consists of more than just a one-way announcement. To make new teammates feel at home, it’s a good idea to be proactive and reach out with introductions instead of waiting for the new person to say hi.

That’s because you have the advantage of being familiar with your role and everyone on the team, whereas it’s easy for a new hire to feel overwhelmed by all the people they need to meet and things they need to get up to speed on. 

When you say hello, you remove one such burden and make them start to feel like one of the team. Send a message and introduce yourself early. Get this new work relationship started off right.


3. Share your process early

Every company and every team does things a little differently. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise if your new teammate has different processes and ways of working.

If you don’t share your team’s best practices early, a new colleague will likely default to what they’re familiar with. And while the ability to do work your way is an important part of workplace flexibility, there are situations where consistency in style or process across the team is critical—and an absence thereof can create unnecessary complexity.

Sharing your team’s best process early sets clear expectations and promotes consistency where it’s needed.


4. Add them to group chats

Project-based chats, team chats, discussions dedicated to common interests—group chats are now the new water cooler.

Instead of waiting to be asked to be added (or run into issues when the new hire is inadvertently left out of the loop), take a look through your various group chats and add your new colleague to any relevant ones. This also makes them feel like a part of the team early and dispels any “clique-ness.”


5. Recognize time differences

Remote work means teams are more spread out than they used to be, and may even work different hours due to time zone differences. If your new teammate works in a different time zone, it’s important to consider that in scheduling. 

While some conflicts may be unavoidable, recognizing time differences by planning meetings and other interactions around times that work for everyone makes every member feel like an important part of the team and ensures everyone is kept in the loop.


6. Set boundaries for yourself

While it’s important to be helpful, an overly needy new teammate can become a burden (and erode your productivity) if it feels like you need to babysit them. That’s why it’s important to set boundaries.

Instead of holding their hand every step of the way, you can point them to other people and resources who can help. This has the added benefit of helping them to learn the ropes and get to know other colleagues.


7. Simple gestures go a long way

We’ve all had moments in life where we felt out of our element or unsure of ourselves. Starting a new job is often one of those situations, especially if the rest of the team has been working together for a while. 

When it comes to making new hires feel like they belong, the little things can go a long way. Whether it’s checking in with a quick DM before the team meeting or offering an introduction, think about simple gestures that would make you feel more welcome or help you learn your new role faster and extend those to your new colleague when it makes sense.


A lot to learn

There are many things to love about remote work, but we can’t deny that the office made meeting new teammates easy.

Luckily, the same communication tools we use today (team messaging and video conferencing) are closing the gap. And sure, getting to know a new colleague virtually may take a more explicit effort, but it’s an important part of working relationships these days.

So let’s get with the times and reach out to our new friends! I promise the payoff will be tremendous.

Originally published Mar 21, 2022

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