With the increased size and scope of remote work, the punch in and punch out system of the corporate sector has been revoked. Since technology advancement is touching the skies, it has become pretty easy for all of us to work remotely with the flexibility of time and location independence

Many big companies like Buffer, Doist, Basecamp, Zapier, Automattic, etc. have granted remote work to their employees already. Today we’ll talk about how Zapier works in a remote environment while maintaining top-notch productivity.

1. An Average Day of a Zapier Employee

Zapier’s Director of Recruiting JT Haskell talked about their entire remote operations and shared the insights of an average day of a Zapier’s employee. He told us that - 

At Zapier, we post a blog (every Friday) about what we did through the week, what we’ll do next week, and what’s going on right now. It helps establish the bigger picture for the team members and keeps everyone updated on the on-going projects. We like to refer to it as our weekly ‘unload.’ We also do an ‘unplugged session’ to engage employees where we just ask them what they are doing for the weekend or their vacation plans.

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2. [Communication Best practices] Asynchronous is How We Work!

Asynchronous communication allows us to have a distributed workforce without the expectation that you have to be online all the time. - Says Haskell

Since communication in any remote company plays a very significant role in the entire operations. Zapier keeps it wholly organized and uses the Slack communication tool as it comprises multiple opportunities. For instance, they integrate their calendar with Slack to know which team member is available for a meeting at the moment. 

3. Zapier’s Core Values for Working Remotely

The reason behind the development of any company depends on its core values. Click To Tweet If a company runs within the boundaries of its core values, then only it can survive and grow. Zapier operates based on its core values. They broadly include default to action, default to transparency, empathy, and attention to detail. These values are reflected in the way they work, communicate, and collaborate. 

Haskell also told us that they also conduct team retreats every six months to ensure that their values are up to date and what the teams think of them. They’re always open to suggestions from the team members to efficiently engage them. 

4. Hiring in a Remote Environment 

Hiring a remote employee is one of the most crucial processes for every remote organization. While conducting it, one has to keep a lot of aspects in mind. Zapier conducts all its interviews over a video call. Haskell believes that it gives them an idea of how the candidate is going to communicate and attend the meetings on video conferencing. It’s a good practice for them as they’ll be working remotely eventually. 

The recruiting team of Zapier also tends to schedule interviews back to back, like one would in a physical office. This speeds up the hiring process and also saves the candidates’ time. They also provide gifts or food coupons to the candidates so that the overall experience with the company is great for them. 

5. [Beware] Identify Red Flags When Hiring Remotely 

Every time you won't receive a perfect candidature. Sometimes you have to go through it thoroughly to identify the red flags if there are any. 

The recruiting experts go back to their core values while assessing candidates. To state it better, Haskell shared an example - “We evaluate their ability to take action (default to action) and solve problems on their own. With a large team like ours, you cannot manage your team member’s day-to-day activities which makes it essential for them to be a self-starter. 

We also look at the ‘default to transparency’ side of things. We want our team members to be able to tell us when they’ve made a mistake that they can’t solve so that the entire team can work and resolve it.”

6. [Assessing candidates] Are they a Cultural Fit?

Everyone has different capabilities, and hence not everyone might belong to the remote culture. So, at the end of the interview, they do a ‘value check’ on candidates to ensure that they will be a cultural fit for the team. These are some questions that they ask their candidates - 

  1. How did they engage with their team members in the previous organization?

  2. Have you ever gone out of your job description to help others? Elaborate. 

  3. The biggest mistake you made and what did you learn from it? 

7. Zapier’s Onboarding And Transition Process

Now arises the question, ‘How can we help this person when they start their job?'

To conduct the onboarding process of a remote employee, they use specific tools that help them evaluate how they can help a new hire better understand the job and the team. They assess candidates on their cultural fit to determine the potential problems that the candidates will face when they join the team. And they start gathering this information during the hiring phase so that when candidates come on board, they can address these issues right away. They also do product training, customer support, and provide a pair buddy to the new hires.

8. Zapier’s 4-Week Onboarding & Training Program

To summarize, during their first four weeks, the recruiting experts of Zapier help new hires get up to speed and be up and running once the onboarding period is completed. 

The first week is the introductory week, where they help the candidates understand the tools that they use, nomenclature, teams, and their way of working. Next, they help the candidates understand their collaborating methods and guidelines and how they can work well with the team. During this phase, they also assign a ‘buddy’ to them who helps the new hire with anything and everything. 

9. Building the Right Culture Within Remote Teams

It is essential for employers to build the right culture within remote teams. 

Haskell revealed -

Zapier is the first organization where I didn’t have to learn the core values. We don’t have them up on a digital poster, and we live them every day. Our culture is built on our everyday way of working. And our cultural values are pretty simple to understand for the team members.

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Build a remote environment like Zapier

10. How to Build Personal Relationships When Working Remotely?

Besides working professionally, the employer needs to have a one on one with their employees where they discuss their personal life. From a personal perspective, retreats are a great way to get to know one another and have face-to-face interaction. At Zapier, they have different retreats for different teams and ensure that team members meet in person at least 2-3 times a year. 

To engage them virtually, they conduct an activity called ‘donut chat’ in Slack. What exactly is it? If you’re in the donut chat, the chatbot will randomly text three people and puts them together l with you for a 30 min wide open conversation. If you have a large team and retreats are not in your current organizational budget, you can develop activities like these to engage employees virtually. 

11. Training Managers for Managing Remote Teams

Before you train your employees about remote culture, it is essential to train your managers who’ll eventually manage their teams. They should be well aware of all the guidelines for managing the remote teams.

The training starts during the onboarding process. They provide them with details on all their processes for communicating, collaborating, and leading remote teams. They also provide them with tools and resources to help them become better managers. 

Further, they have senior managers helping new managers get started with their work during the initial days. They also have a management channel and a dedicated team that focuses on the training and development of managers.

12. Setting Goals and Objectives - The OKR System

“We are still relatively new to incorporating the OKR (objectives and key results) system in our organization. But in the one year that we’ve done it, we have observed it's increasing visibility and understanding the traction,” says Haskell 

They also use this system to lay down and document their strategies. For instance, in the product development stage, they define the OKRs for each phase of development. This helps them analyze what has already been done, which ideas have been disposed of, and what steps can be taken to improve the product. 

Summing Up

As we are moving forward towards the future of work, i.e., Remote Work, we must have the complete knowledge of remote work environment not just as an organization but also as employees seeking flexible opportunities. To get the perfect insights into remote work, join The Remote Work Summit that covers the entire spectrum of discussion on Remote Work. Also, get to know Trello’s flexible work culture.

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  • This is really an amazing blog. I really like how Zapier took its team remotely. Initiating programs and practices to be able to work remotely is very important. And, how it made sure it’s happening is by keeping its employees engaged all throughout and also any new employee being hired, it made sure that persona is equally onboarded as others sooner.

  • Great article. I and others can actually learn from these blogs how Zapier, Microsoft, Buffer have been able to manage to work remotely and take their teams remotely. Because, being such huge brands and organizations, it’s very important for us to know how to do 5x of what they did so that we start off as a brand to be called as a remote brand.

  • What a brilliant writing! Wow. I really liked reading this article. Those words on how Zapier took its team remote is overwhelming and very informative and knowledgeable, of course. I believe all these companies can actually have an e-learning platform wherein they’re giving out lessons to all those people who are working remotely, just like you guys have!

  • One amazing blog I have read so far. This blog has talked about how exactly a team should be working towards a remote work environment so as to go remote with your team. And, I think these practices are some of the best ways to actually take your team remote.

  • Lately, I started doing research on how to work remotely and any specific company that has its employees working remotely already. And, I found so many of them and Zapier was one of them and I had no idea about these organizations having their employees work remotely. And, this article is an absolute summary of everything that I researched on like every point has something to say what I have read so far.

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