Carlos Paniagua, founder and CTO of customer service platform Glia, has successfully scaled the company to more than 300 people since 2011. His team’s spread out, with roughly 16% working in offices located in Estonia, Vancouver and New York, 34% working flexibly and 50% working remotely. So, he knows a thing or two about creating smooth people operations. In Sifted's Startup Life newsletter, Paniagua gave us his top tips on the topic.
Be strategically clustered
Aim for new joiners to be a few hours drive, train or plane away from your HQ. That makes it easy to meet up for things like onboarding, team getaways or in-person brainstorming. You also want them to be within a few hours time difference of one of your HQs, to meet and collaborate remotely at an hour of the day convenient for everyone.
Create a hybrid approach to onboarding
If possible, meet your new team members in person, as it helps build personal relationships. For example, we fly any new joiners from the EU to our HQ in Estonia.
Make sure everyone has access to the same onboarding information, whether they are remote or in person. Our main tool for onboarding tasks is Kallidus (formerly Sapling). We also use Lessonly to deliver key information about the company and its teams. These tools stay with the team post onboarding, and play a crucial role in managing remote workers.
Don’t expect people to know how a tool works
Provide live and virtual sessions to guide new joiners through your company's tools and resources, such as Confluence, Lattice, Slack and Zoom. Don't assume they know how to use them — your company may use them differently to how they’ve used them in the past. This is also useful for team members who may want a refresher.
Check in regularly
This might be with quick coffee chats, team get togethers or daily stand ups. These can all be done in person or online. Ensure team members understand company priorities and are working on tasks that are essential to the company’s overall strategy. This is especially important in a hybrid team, because remote workers may not have as many opportunities for informal communication as they would in-person. This can lead to them feeling disconnected from the company's mission, goals and priorities.
These check ins also provide the leadership team with an overview of their direct reports' progress, and help identify any issues that need to be unblocked.
Always track 1:1 meetings
Use a tool like Lattice. It helps hold both parties accountable and provides an overview of a team member’s progress. Use it to:
How (and how not) to run a startup.
- Set an agenda for the chat
- Set quarterly goals like KPIs or OKRs and track them easily
- Create action items for the manager
- Look back on previous conversations to track progress
- You can also use a tool like Lattice for bigger meetings, like quarterly or annual reviews.
Invest in company-wide meetings
Keep everyone informed about the business and the wider mission — not just within the silos of their team. Create a weekly recurring event — like an all hands meeting — in everyone's diaries, at a time that works as well as possible across time zones — not late at night when people are at home with families, for example. Create an agenda covering important updates, an overview of what teams are working on, requests and shout outs. For small teams, a tool like Zoom will suffice. As you grow, consider upgrading to Zoom Events.
On the subject of... managing people remotely
❓Companies are desperate to hold on to talent. Is HR tech the solution?
🌍 You don’t need more tools, you need an employee experience manager. They ensure that company culture is understood and adhered to — even across borders — so that employees feel seen and satisfied at work.
🧱 People operations tech Stack. HR platform Humaans has released its 2023 report that outlines the best way companies can build people processes that scale and create a better employee experience.
👩🏽🔬 Your people ops team needs tech people too. Lucia Guillory, an experienced head of people, is a big believer in heaving a multidisciplinary team to provide the best experience for employees.
🏕️ Running an offsite for your team? They can be great for helping remote employees catch up with colleagues and feel evermore connected with the company’s mission. Here’s how to do them well.