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Group of coworkers engaging in small talk

Does Small Talk Play a Big Role In Remote Team Morale? Yes, and Here’s Why—

By Remote WorkNo Comments

Small talk can build huge teams. 

In a recent study by Atlassian, healthy teams reported they felt like they belonged and their ideas were supported, leading to higher levels of engagement and fewer instances of burnout. And the answer to building these healthy teams? You probably guessed it already—small talk.

But is it important for remote teams, where arguably these moments have to be manufactured in lieu of the physical watercooler?

Yes. The benefits of small talk aren’t limited by the location of the employees and in fact, small talk plays a more important role in remote workplaces.

But first, what is small talk? (And what it’s not)

Small talk is characterized by light and breezy conversation, typically avoiding important or controversial topics. So you may have been subject to the occasional “How was your weekend?” or “It’s freezing out there” but it’s important to note that the definition of small talk and how it’s understood culturally varies. 

In the US, small talk is a big part of the workplace culture. It’s considered essential to develop a great bond between teammates, have a great working relationship with managers, and win over vendors and clients.

On the other hand, most Swedes, Fins, and Norwegians don’t appreciate small talk because it’s not a part of their culture. 

Coming to the actual content of small talk, an HBR article recommends shying away from politics, religion, or anything divisive and there are companies that have banned this exact thing. Yet others encourage a healthy discourse on all things that affect their employees. 

When it comes to what small talk is—it’s best left to individual policies and what’s in the best interest of employees. However, bear in mind that small talk shouldn’t be used as a means to gossip. Gossiping at work can hurt morale and even lead to huge employee turnover.

More small talk promotes employee well-being 

A study of 151 full-time workers revealed that “small talk was uplifting.” Participants completed 3 surveys a day for 15 consecutive workdays and rated their emotions, productivity, and overall engagement. 

“On days workers made more small talk than usual, they experienced more positive emotions and were less burned out.” -Jessica R. Methot, Associate Professor at Rutgers University and co-author of the study. 

For remote workers that primarily work out of their home–limiting their contact with other working professionals–small talk can alleviate some of the negative impacts of remote work such as loneliness and burnout. 

Woman on a Zoom call with coworkers having small talk.

Mandatory fun makes teams feel more connected

Teams that don’t engage in scheduled social gatherings struggle to adapt to remote work and feel less connected. 

A study by INSEAD of more than 500 global professionals working remotely showed that the teams that thrived made time for “mandatory fun”—hosting quizzes, shared playlists, book recommendations, and movie clubs. 

Set aside some time every week for the entire team to get together for virtual hangouts. You can also pair up employees at random to re-create the watercooler moment and spark conversations. 

Read Next: How to find and plan fun events for your teams in a remote environment

Shooting the breeze builds a positive team culture

The study of 151 workers found that supervisors who create space for small talk benefit from increased creativity, inclusion, and collaboration.

That’s key to building a positive team culture which in turn leads to more productivity, higher engagement rates, and speeds up the time to productivity for new hires. 

You can set the right example for your team in a few ways. 

  • Before you start virtual meetings, make way for some friendly chat. Start with asking how everyone’s weekend was or how they’re feeling about work.
  • You can also let employees share how they’re feeling and encourage conversations in the chat. 
  • When new hires go through their onboarding, encourage existing employees to set the right tone and make them feel welcome by inviting new hires to informal chats.

Read Next: 5 ways to connect employees with similar interests in a remote environment

Social chitchat drives psychological safety

When Dr. Amy Edmondson was studying clinical teams and the number of mistakes that different teams made, her research revealed that teams producing better outcomes consistently made more mistakes compared to teams with fewer good outcomes. Upon further investigation, Dr. Edmondson found that “teams with better outcomes were admitting more mistakes, whilst the teams with fewer good outcomes were more likely to hide theirs.” 

As a result, Dr Edmondson codified psychological safety as an important workplace concept—”the belief that one will not be punished or humiliated for speaking up with ideas, questions, concerns, or mistakes, and the team is safe for interpersonal risk taking.”

Without creating a culture that allows for mistakes, naive questions, and wild ideas, businesses steer themselves to failure. 

Small talk within teams can change that. Small personal disclosures build trust among coworkers. Ultimately when disagreements arise, they can speak up and disagree productively – leading to a better outcome. 

Managers and team leaders should incorporate these learnings in team meetings and lead by example, making it easy for everyone else on the call to open up as well. 

Just 5-minutes of intentional small talk can lead to higher productivity rates

A recent study in Language and Speech found that small talk raises productivity levels. The study looked at transcripts of 69 conversations to identify both work-related and “off-task” communications and revealed that when highly engaged two-way conversations occur, higher levels of task enjoyment and productivity follow.  

But to enjoy the benefits of small talk, you don’t have to go too deep or turn it into a marathon chat fest. Just 5 minutes of small talk at the beginning of meetings can have a huge impact. 

Companies are using Airspeed to reap the benefits of small talk. Employees use the platform to gain helpful insight on coworkers, such as what they did over the weekend or their hobbies. Airspeed makes it easy to kick off meetings with genuine, quality rapport – which in turn, makes meetings more enjoyable and productive.

Want to learn how? Get in touch to cure digital disconnect.

Women stressed working on her laptop, considering quiet quitting.

How to Prevent Quiet Quitting in a Remote Workplace

By Remote WorkNo Comments
Screenshot of Google Trends 'Quiet Quitting' trend graph, with trend line going from 0 to showing significant searches and activity.
Search term ‘quiet quitting’ interest over the past 90 days – reaching a peak on Aug. 24, 2022

The days of #riseandgrind and #hustleculture seem long gone. Enter boundaries, strict 9 to 5 schedules, and the trend sweeping newsfeeds and social platforms: quiet quitting. 

Quiet quitting isn’t in and of itself malicious. It’s about setting boundaries and reclaiming time. As with most things though, it requires a balance.  

We spend most of our day at work. So, how do employers help employees find fulfillment so it isn’t just another corporate transaction at the end of the day? How can we set expectations so both the employee and employer are heard, especially in a remote setting where transparency can be hard to give? 

While your HR team may be nervous about the implications of quiet quitting, addressing this head on can prevent it from happening in the first place. It’s an opportunity to rethink your culture so your employees will stay engaged and invested. 

What does quiet quitting mean? 

Quiet quitting is a bit of a misnomer, as it just means the act of doing what your job description says, within the time frame you’re supposed to be working, and not going above or beyond what is required. Yet quiet quitters make up half of the U.S. workforce – with the percent of employees under the age of 35 who are engaged in work dropping by 6%.

It’s a stark change from the 2010s. Millennials may know hustle culture intimately because they entered the workforce during the 2008 Great Recession. With little job security, Millennials were forced to grind to maintain some stability. Thus, ‘hustle culture’ was born, as well as all the flexing and ‘performative workaholism’ that came along with it. 

As with most things, the COVID-19 pandemic provided a stark contrast to reality. With the exodus to remote jobs for knowledge workers, the fear and grief of an unknown virus, and the blurring of home and work (and time at all, really), it’s no wonder 71% of knowledge workers reported feeling burned out. While some companies have embraced remote work, many employees still struggle with leaving work behind when they’re no longer shutting laptops and commuting home at the end of the day. Now, work is home, and with no separation it’s easy to work all hours. 

As Gen Z continues to enter the workforce in droves, they’re learning the lessons reaped from the forebears: Work should not consume your life. One way Millennials and Gen Z differ? What they want out of their jobs. Gen Z wants face-to-face interactions and mentorship – if they don’t get what they need from their job, they’re happy to tap the breaks and “quiet quit” because it’s not worth it. For Millennials, they want X out of their roles. And when they “quiet quit” it’s typically for more of a burnout reason. 

How are remote companies impacted by quiet quitting?

Productivity, company culture, and morale are all at risk from quiet quitting – though if people are participating in it at your company, your culture was probably lacking in the first place. A finding by Harvard Business Review showed that least effective managers had three to four times as many people who were quietly quitting as opposed to the most effective leaders.

It’s easier for employees to disengage remotely too, if not given the proper tools or motivation. The number of remote or hybrid employees that believe someone encourages their development has dropped, as well as their belief that they have opportunities to learn and grow. Less than four in 10 employees even know what is expected of them at work. 

While having a fulfilling job is a goal for many, it can make it disappointing and easier to check out if a role doesn’t meet those expectations. Jeffrey Jensen Arnett, a senior research scholar at Clark University, said in a CNET article, “That [fulfilling job] ideal collides with reality for most people. As desirable as that ideal is, it’s awfully hard to find work that can live up to it because … a job is not created to fulfill people, jobs are created because people need things done.”

He cites emerging adulthood as the push toward finding a fulfilling job for people new to the workforce, as well as the shift to a more individualistic culture brought on by manufacturing and the knowledge economy – rather than it being a generational divide. This is an idea that Hannah Grady Williams, a Gen Z expert that consults for top companies on how to attract and retain young talent, challenges companies on, as Gen Zers and Millennials often get a bad rep for job hopping or disengaging.  

“Gen Z would stay at companies for 10 or more years if the culture and the team are something that we resonate with and adore. Now, how often does that happen?” Williams says. “Our standards for what that team and culture is are so much higher than other generations.”

For companies, it’s about finding a way to tap into employees’ value while also delivering on their own culture. But how do they go about creating a strong foundation for that?

How to counteract quiet quitting

Here are three ways you can prevent quiet quitting, especially among Gen Z, according to Williams:

  1. Ask and meet your employees’ needs 

“Gen Zers, unlike millennials, are not fascinated by technology because we grew up so integrated with it. Instead, we want face to face interaction. We want stability with companies. We want to be in mentorship environments. The first thing I advise for companies is to get great tech flexibility and autonomy built into your culture, then you can get more personalized with your team. Gen Z expects personalization because we’ve grown up with it.” 

  1. Be open to dialogue around trends – and listen

“What I encourage companies to do is at your team meeting, say, ‘Hey guys, I’ve seen this TikTok trend going around. It’s called quiet quitting. How many of you are familiar with it?’ And then have them raise their hands and start the conversation – even asking what they think we should do about it.”

This kind of approach helps ease the secrecy and fire drill approach that companies can take when it comes to circulating work trends. 

  1. Engage your community

“Pre COVID, it was very normal to see people working away from the office be more productive. And now we’re in an environment where that’s the standard and there’s no tools to keep the team engaged. That’s where we’re seeing startups form to solve the problem. And that’s why I love what Airspeed is doing, being able to get to know your team separately from the workplace and what they’re into.” 

Knock the quiet out of quiet quitting. Just like closed door meetings are a risk to transparency and good culture, so too is just ignoring this phenomenon and acting like all is well. That’s the exact opposite of what Gen Zers and other digital natives want in a remote work environment. By being transparent, encouraging healthy boundaries, and engaging your employees, employers can get ahead of quiet quitting and evolve their company culture in the process. 

Future of work man working remotely.

3 Reasons Why Remote Teams Are the Future of Startups

By Remote WorkNo Comments

Are you considering a remote team for your startup yet? We’ve outlined the top three reasons why you should.

Remote may be the future of work, but is it the future of startups?

Startups are notoriously challenging to scale, with two-thirds of them failing to deliver a positive return to their investors. Those that succeed share a few things in common: they attract and retain great talent, focus on creative solutions, and run a lean business.  

And remote teams check off all the right boxes for those success factors.  

3 Reasons Your Startup Needs A Remote Team

While there may be several reasons why your startup can benefit from hiring a remote team, we’ve narrowed it down to the top 3 reasons you should consider.

Top-notch talent wants to work remotely

Having no geographical barriers when you’re hiring employees allows you to tap into the best talent. Instead of being limited to finding a talented front-end developer to work with in California, you can access some of the best minds in the world.

Besides, most workers don’t want to return to the office. 

In a 2022 Buffer survey of over 2,000 remote workers across the country, 97% recommend remote work and would like to continue. Companies that don’t understand employee needs and force employees to return are seeing workers quit in what is now referred to as The Great Resignation. 

Woman working remotely while traveling. She is sitting at a desk with huge windows that faces a lake and mountains.

Remote employee productivity is higher than in-office

According to data from Stanford University professor Nicholas Bloom, remote workers report being more productive when compared to those who work in office. Although this data is reported, we also have corroborating data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics data on growing output per hours worked.

The reason for this boost in productivity is also the increased flexibility. Having more flexibility leads to employees being happier, and thus more productive. 

Office costs can be reduced or eliminated

Office space can cost $100-$1,000 per employee per month. Startups can save on rent, overhead, maintenance, and other costs associated with a physical office by switching to remote work. 

Even if you’re not fully remote, the costs you save per employee can be put to better use. Many companies that are saving money on office rent put the funds towards having an offsite annually, or offering other more important benefits to their employees like a team culture app or home office stipends.

Proof of Concept: Successful Remote Companies

If you’re still not convinced about remote teams being the future, these successful remote companies might change your mind. 

Hotjar

David Darmanin, CEO of Hotjar, believes remote work removes physical barriers: “I think when you are in an office together, there are obviously huge advantages — like the fact that you can bring everyone together and just talk directly.”

But Darmanin believes remote has a significant advantage over working out of an office.

“I think remote offers an interesting opportunity, which is, it instantly gives you equality. As long as your internet connection is as good as everyone else’s, I’m the same distance.
As the CEO, I’m the same distance away from everyone on the team. We all sit next to each other. “

Buffer

Hailley Griffis, Head of PR at Buffer, shared how Buffer measures productivity in a remote environment: “Everyone at Buffer has to deliver on their goals according to what needs each team has. Their output is a sign of their work and consistent output increases trust with managers. 

If someone weren’t hitting their goals it would affect their team and their manager would know about it.”

Gitlab

Sid Sijbrandij, the CEO of GitLab, shares, “The last two years have shown us that remote work is now just… work. And work is work, whether you’re doing it in an office building, in your home office, or in a coffee shop.”

“A study from the Becker Friedman Institute projects that the post-pandemic economy will experience a productivity boost of 4.8% when compared to pre-pandemic working conditions, mainly due to time saved by not commuting.

The Becker Friedman Institute’s study data also tells us that we’ve been working more efficiently from remote locations like our homes than we did while in the office. For any leader to suggest otherwise disrespects the hard work employees have been putting in for the last two years, amid some of the most turbulent times in recent history.”

Zapier

Wade Foster, CEO of Zapier, shares what it takes to build a 100% remote company: “It’s in our DNA to work this way. Bryan, Mike, and I started working on this project through chat, pull requests, and Trello cards. So we figured out a way to make remote work, and it makes sense to us.

Office companies face this problem too. You add more people, you have a bigger office, and communication breaks down. Your response to that isn’t, “Hey, we’re working in an office. We need to go remote to fix this.” No, your response is, “There’s something wrong with our communication structure. There’s something more fundamental that we need to fix here.”

Brunette woman sitting at desk working remotely and productively.

The potential downside to hiring remote teams might have an easy fix

While there are many upsides to having remote teams, success depends on constant and clear communication. That can be challenging for companies new to remote work. Without the right processes in place and managers who trust teams to get their work done, employees get stuck in endless meetings and productivity takes a hit. 

The first step to fostering a thriving remote workplace is to look at successful remote companies and understand how they solve some of the most common challenges of remote work. 

We recommend starting with these interviews: 

The second part of the equation is finding the right technology to support remote work. In the office, employees would step away from work to connect and recharge in the breakroom, happy hour, or at team lunches. Unfortunately, most remote workers don’t have those same opportunities to recharge with their coworkers. 

Luckily, those key moments can be recreated in a remote environment using technology. Leading companies offer their employees tools like Airspeed that empower them to build great relationships, increase creativity, and avoid burnout.

Take the first step to make your team remote 

Transitioning to remote work requires effective processes and constant communication.
If you’re currently thinking about switching to remote work, here are a few resources for you: 

40 year old man on Zoom call with 25 year old coworker.

Bridging Generational Gaps in the Digital Workplace

By Remote WorkNo Comments

Pop quiz: What emoji would you use to show that you’re laughing out loud? Would it be 😂,💀, or 😭?

Or what about this: If someone wrote something to you that you had to confirm receipt on, would you write “k”, “OK”, or “okay!”?

The year you were born would most likely dictate those answers.

It’s more than 20 years after Y2K and we’re living, working, and evolving in digital times. With three generations of employees now in the workplace (and 16% of companies in the world fully remote) we’re primed for miscommunication and some humorous moments. 

Evolution of a digital language 

As we’ve evolved as humans, so too has language. 

Gretchen McCulloch, author and publisher of “Because, Internet”, discussed this evolution through when people became introduced to the web. She broke it down into old internet, pre-internet, full-internet, and post-internet people. 

Old internetPre-InternetFull-internetPost-internet
1970s-1980s users that coined terms from programming language and chat programsPeople that used the web for work and other tasks, majority Baby BoomersMillennials that came of age using the InternetMostly Gen Z – those that live and breathe the Internet and don’t know a world without it 

As McCulloch said in an interview: “One of the things I hope to do with Because Internet is foster this kind of dialogue between generations, because there doesn’t have to be one right way of doing things. I’m not saying that everyone has to talk like they’re a younger person, it can be just as valuable for young people to say: ‘OK, this older person is not actually trying to be passive aggressive when they send me this full stop.’”

Consider the following conversation that took place in a digital workplace and how it can be construed by different generations:

3:05 p.m.
“Hi there…called to talk through your recent assignment.

We received feedback from the client…they have some edits…can we make sure to incorporate their comments going forward. Thanks.”

3:12 p.m.
“hi yes! will work on that
tbh I was expecting more feedback lol 💀
were they not happy with the deliverable?”

3:30 p.m.
“quick q, when do you need this done by?” 

3:33 p.m.
“End of day would be preferable.”

3:12 p.m.
“I can do that!!”

3:35 p.m.
“K. Thx.”

You can guess who is who in this scenario just based on how they type. While the boss would have preferred to talk through this through the phone and tried to keep the IM exchange short, the employee was fine having that entire interaction via IM. Even still, the employee walked away from the conversation feeling like they did something wrong given how they perceived the boss’s tone and lack of response.  

When we educate ourselves on generational differences in communication, it adds that necessary context to the conversation. We can then align our expectations and avoid feeling unintentionally spurned by a rogue ‘k.’ 

Lack of communication in the digital workplace has become a big (and expensive) problem

Back in 2019, the “OK Boomer” meme exploded. An older man posted a TikTok saying millennials and Generation Z had Peter Pan syndrome and didn’t want to grow up – and the internet did its thing. 

This friction around generational gaps isn’t just taking place in online dialogue – it’s showing up in the workplace. In a survey from Olivet Nazarene University, more than half of Boomer respondents reported age discrimination and worried that a younger colleague would take their job. On the other hand, 30% of Millennials felt like they were being held back by an older colleague; 1 in 4 quit because of them.   

Miscommunication can cost companies with 100 employees $420,000 a year. For larger companies with 100,000+ employees, this cost can skyrocket to $62.4 million. 

86% of employees think lack of collaboration and communication is one of the main sources of workplace failures, leaving big implications for productivity. Add to the fact that nonverbal parts of communication, like tonality and body language, make up 93% of how we communicate, the remote workforce force is at a communication crossroads. 

Dan Negroni, an employee experience expert for the remote workforce, thinks communication is one of the toughest things to do at work, regardless of the other challenges at play. 

“When people have their video off or have never met their colleagues in person, it’s just much harder to read and to connect all those nuanced languages,” Negroni says. “We understand we need to do something different. And so therein opens the intentionality. We need to teach the workforce that the job is to try and connect and to ask if a person wants to receive that conversation.” 

Understanding generational communication differences

When it comes to starting to bridge the communication divide, it’s important to recognize how each generation prefers to communicate

Baby BoomersGen XMillennialsGen Z
What they prefer:Face-to-face, phone and emailEmail, phone, text and FacebookText, chat, email and InstagramFace-to-face, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok and FaceTime (70% of Gen Z prefers face-to-face!)
What they want:Details and backgroundTo keep it professional and to the pointEfficiency and digital approach Video, voice command and mobile approach 

For different generations in the workplace, these employees are all at different places in their careers. Those early in their career, like Gen Z, and those later, like Boomers, want different things, ranging anywhere from wanting more in-person interaction and feedback or integration into a workplace’s culture. Understanding who your employees are and what they may want is the first step in finding a common ground.  

“Humans are built for connection,” Negroni says. “And so the bridging the gap model is about understanding who your audience is, and creating a safe space where people can be met where they are.”

Strategies to overcome generational gaps in the workplace

For Negroni, the key to creating that safe space in your culture is through what he calls the three B’s: belief, belonging, and becoming. 

“It’s almost like having permission to be yourself or to ask for these things you need,” Negroni says. “Employees need to believe that they’re safe in their environment, that they feel like they belong, and that they have the ability to learn and grow. Those are the three kinds of combinations that if you understand, as a manager, you can meet people where you are.”

It can start with creating a separate space from work to encourage this type of intentional connection. 

In a survey of 2000 remote and hybrid workers, 75% connected with colleagues through informal work messages, with 73% saying it helped with the transition to remote and hybrid work. Breaking it down by generation showed 80% of millennials compared to 60% of Gen X. 

Having a safe space to connect with each other can make a difference. Apps like Airspeed help bring coworkers together to bond and grow from each other, with teams using this solution to build rapport beyond just social profiles. 

This kind of platform can act as a playground for connection, a way to bridge communication styles and learn more about each other in the process. Going forward, a “K” can be more of a laughing point instead of an alert for anxiety, and an errant emoji or GIF use can be a teaching moment across generations rather than a point of contention. Every generation has something to learn from each other in the workplace.

4 Ways to Connect Employees with Similar Interests in a Remote Environment

By Remote WorkNo Comments

How well do you know your coworkers? If your answer is ‘not very well,’ you’re not alone. In this new remote world, it’s not as easy as it once was to connect employees.

Coworkers used to meet for coffee, have lunch together, or grab drinks after a long day at the office — which opened up many opportunities to build friendships. In addition to those interactions, teammates often passed each other’s desks or caught up in the kitchen. 

Now, we work alongside whoever we live with, and our days at the home office end when we log off and close our laptops. As a result, there aren’t as many opportunities to connect with coworkers throughout our workdays.

However, that doesn’t mean it’s not possible. There are many ways companies can foster connections between employees. Here are five ways that you can connect employees with similar interests in a remote environment.

Create interest groups

It’s important for your team to connect and discover what interests they have in common. For example, it could be that a few people all have dogs or love to travel internationally.

The best way to support your team in connecting is to create interest groups, similar to how you might have clubs in-person. Here’s a few examples of popular groups:

  • Pet Parents: have employees share pictures of their cats, dogs, or other furry friends
  • Chefs: employees can share their favorite recipes
  • Jokesters: everyone loves a lighthearted meme or funny dad joke
  • Diversity and inclusion group: help empower different communities at work
  • Wellness Warriors: for conversations about health, wellness, workouts, and more
  • Book Club: teammates can share book recommendations and read the same book

These groups are a great starting point for connecting employees with similar interests. To easily create virtual interest groups, try using a tool like Airspeed. You can even use those groups to plan virtual events or create official clubs.

Host virtual events to connect coworkers

Hosting virtual events and classes that appeal to a wide range of interests is a great way to connect coworkers.

You can organize events like workout classes, game nights, cooking classes, and more. Offering non-work activities that appeal to different people is a fun and unique way to connect coworkers that might not usually interact with one another.

These different activities allow new coworkers to meet and build friendships with one another based on a shared interest discovered outside of their typical work.

Organize virtual club meetups

Now that you’ve created interest groups, you can organize virtual clubs! Employees can meet briefly to connect about a specific topic and have fun. We recommend meeting once a month, or every 2-3 weeks depending on the club. Here are some great ideas for clubs at work: 

  • Book clubs: meet up to pick a new book and discuss your learnings from last month’s book
  • Cooking clubs: choose one member to teach everyone their favorite dish
  • Game clubs: pick a virtual game to play together, such as a Jackbox game
  • Movie clubs: everyone can watch a movie at the same time, and share their thoughts in the chat box
  • Running clubs: accountability buddies are the best! Meet up to share any running tips and how much you ran that week

The best thing you can do is listen to your employees by allowing them to provide input on their interests and help create your virtual groups.

Partner with organizations


If you’re looking for more ways to connect employees with one another and get involved with the community, you can partner with local organizations. For some, you may have to be members of that organization or association, but that’s also a good way to get employees to connect. There are many groups that are organizing virtual events. 

You can partner with groups for certain specialties such as sales or marketing organizations, groups for women, charity organizations, or industry organizations. That way, you’re providing your employees with an opportunity to foster an interest, connect with one another, and connect with other professionals who share their interests. Adding in an extra layer of social interaction is extremely beneficial in our virtual world. 

The key to fostering employee relationships is offering opportunities for them to connect with one another, such as interest groups, virtual clubs, and virtual events. Connecting employees with similar interests in a remote environment is easier than you might think—you just need to know where to start!

7 Tips for Onboarding Employees in a Remote Environment

By Remote WorkNo Comments

Hiring a new employee is exciting! In the office, you’d typically get to know them with icebreakers or take them out for a team lunch. In a remote workplace, onboarding may look a little different, but you can still welcome and celebrate your new teammate.

As an employer, you want your employees to experience that first day of work feeling as if they were heading to an office and experiencing the culture in person.

Here are seven tips to successfully onboard your new employees in a remote or hybrid environment.

Welcome employees before their start date

Pink and yellow 'Hello' LED sign

When there is a new hire on the team, encourage their future teammates to reach out via email or LinkedIn to introduce themselves and welcome them to the team before their start date. If they didn’t get a chance to meet during the hiring process, encourage them to set up a quick coffee chat to connect. A simple hello can make your new hire feel welcomed before they enter the virtual team meeting on their first day.

Another way to do this is send a welcome card through an app like Airspeed. Teammates can sign the virtual welcome card before the new hire arrives.

Send a first day of work swag box

Desk with company swag notebooks on it.

Everyone loves company swag. Sending company swag makes employees feel like they’re part of the team. During employee onboarding, get your new hire set up with the tech they’ll need, like a laptop, monitor, headset, and keyboard. When you send the new tech their way, add in some branded swag so that your employee can decorate their home office and rock their new logo at home. 

Some examples to add into an onboarding swag box are: 

  • Company logo stickers 
  • Company t-shirts
  • Branded hat 
  • Company water bottle
  • Company coffee mug 
  • Branded notebook 

When it comes to feeling like part of the team, company swag like stickers and t-shirts can make all the difference for the first day of work.

Organize onboarding cohorts

Laptop with Zoom call and coffee mug.

Starting a new job is more fun when there’s a group of new hires. Your hiring team or HR department can set a new hire schedule in which groups, or cohorts of new hires, start on the same day. That way, you can organize larger training sessions, onboarding activities, and have routine check-ins as time goes on. 

Onboarding cohorts should be company-wide, not just team-based. Not only does it make onboarding and training more manageable because you’ll be able to conduct larger training sessions, but you’re also giving employees who might not typically interact a chance to get to know one another.

Give your new hires the spotlight

Employees at a table for a team meeting.

When onboarding new employees, it’s important to announce these new hires so everyone can meet. Although your new hires are meeting their direct teammates and building relationships with their onboarding cohort, you should also give the whole company a chance to get to know them. 

If you’re at a small company, you can send an email, send a team message, or announce your latest hire in your company meeting. If you’re a larger company, you can highlight your new hires on your company intranet or Airspeed account. To make it more fun, you can send an Icebreaker to your new hire and incorporate their fun facts in their company-wide introduction.

Schedule formal training and networking events

Laptop and notebook on a desk with a teacup.

No matter what your company does, your new hires need to be trained. Since you’ve organized onboarding cohorts, it will be much easier to conduct in-depth formal training sessions. Leverage internal experts and leaders to host training sessions on technology, your product or solution, and role-specific lessons. Training during onboarding is critical for success on the job.

Build an onboarding guide

Woman sitting at a desk with a notebook and laptop.

From tech onboarding to meeting the team to learning about culture, your new hire should get a guide that shows them everything they need to know. Building a virtual one-stop shop for your new hire can help them quickly get up to speed. You can send this to them on their first da, or even prior so they’re prepared.

Here are the key elements to include in an onboarding guide: 

  • Key meetings to attend 
  • Expectations 
  • Onboarding and training schedule 
  • Employees to scheduling meetings with
  • Websites, platforms, and tools that the company uses 
  • First projects and goals 
  • 30-60-90 plan 

A good balance of technology, HR, goals, and team quirks will help your new hires learn how your business operates and what they can expect as a new member of the team. Plus, once you create one onboarding guide, you can make a template that can be repeated for each new hire. This will ensure that all of your new hires have positive onboarding experiences in our remote work environment!

Foster one on one relationships

Man sitting at a desk on a Zoom call with a woman for onboarding employees.

Outside of the onboarding cohort, help your new hires build one on one relationships with other employees. There are two types of beneficial partnerships you can foster—an onboarding buddy and an onboarding mentor. 

The onboarding buddy should be someone outside of your new hire’s direct team that they’ll still be crossing paths with frequently. This person can help them navigate their first few weeks of work, all while building a work friendship. 

The onboarding mentor should be someone who is a senior leader within the team who can help them adjust to the workload, prepare for team meetings, and ask questions about job responsibilities. 

Both the onboarding buddy and mentor are equally important for new hires. They should feel supported by their colleagues on a personal and professional level so that they can quickly feel like a part of the team. 

Be sure that you schedule networking hours too so that your new hires can get a taste of company culture. You can also plan monthly fun events so everyone can get to know each other.

Starting a new job in a remote environment should feel just as exciting as it would if we were back in the office. Your plan to remotely onboard employees may look a little different, but with these remote onboarding tips, your new hires will feel welcomed and like part of the team on day one.