The guest of this latest interview is Gleb Kudryavtsev, Product Manager of Skyeng, the largest online English school in Russia. We discussed how remote work creates good managers, why questions can’t be solved in a chat box, and what it means to have self-propelled employees.
Let’s go through the most important aspects of management in terms of remote work. Can you tell me about the onboarding process at Skyeng?
When it comes to the onboarding of remote employees you can’t say, “You’ll figure it out somehow.”. It won’t work. You have to spend an hour a day during the first week continuously providing information about the project, what and how things should be done. It’s important for the manager to find time for it.
Also, it depends a lot on the company’s size. We’ve concluded that it’s difficult to tell every new employee about large business processes again and again: there’s a sales department, there are other departments and their managers, and so on.
So, we’re developing an internal study system with an exam. When employees join the team, they must read the instructions with a basic set of knowledge. Also, employees are first advised by HR, and then, they move to the managers, who give more specific information.
That’s all regarding technical aspect, but what about meeting with the team and adaptation process of the new employee?
As soon as people join the team, they write a bit about themselves and publish it on the Slack channel. This way other team members get to know new employees. Then, they have meetings (there are daily standups on many teams). That’s it, there’s no more team building in terms of remote work and employees should be ready for it.
Team building takes place in the work process within six months or a year. The conversation moves to another level when employees have already met their colleagues in real life, even if they continue to chat online, they perceive each other in another way. Until then, a team building process doesn’t make any sense. Are you going to drink beer on video chat?
Of course, we are happy if an employee comes to the office. But, work is more important for us than team building.