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Productivity   |   Use Cases   |   Remote Work   |   Enterprise

How To Hire And Onboard Remote Workers: The Trello Guide To Success

By | Published on | 7 min read
<span id="hs_cos_wrapper_name" class="hs_cos_wrapper hs_cos_wrapper_meta_field hs_cos_wrapper_type_text" style="" data-hs-cos-general-type="meta_field" data-hs-cos-type="text" >How To Hire And Onboard Remote Workers: The Trello Guide To Success</span>

For many companies, the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 forced a shift to remote working that occurred nearly overnight—and certainly faster than most companies expected. With the transition, employees were forced to bring previously in-person processes online, including companies’ hiring and onboarding experiences. Live interviews moved to Zoom, job fairs became newsletters, and new employees got introduced to their teams via Slack channels.

Now, as COVID eases in some parts of the world, many companies—over 80% of them, according to a Gartner survey—are choosing to keep these processes digital as they opt for a permanently remote or hybrid work model. Considering the boost that distributed working has given employee productivity and company budgets, that’s good news all around.

However, it also means that it’s time to turn your stop-gap remote hiring methods into more formal processes that streamline the experience for your managers, prospective hires, and HR team. Fortunately, Trello has been hiring employees remotely for years now and has had some time to perfect the process. Here are a few ways to make the experience a good one for everyone involved, with advice from Trello’s Head of Marketing.

Land On The Hard And Soft Skills You’re Searching For—Then Interview For Those

Start by getting razor-focused on the traits that matter to you and your team. For some, that might mean searching for an uber-talented contractor with a specific set of skills. For others, it may mean hiring a team player who has the right attitude, even if they don’t fully fit the bill experience-wise. When exploring what your team needs, take stock of the type of work you need done, the cadence of that work, and the hard and soft skills it will require.

“Because we’re a fast-growing company, our needs change quickly,” says Stella Garber, Head of Marketing at Trello. “The roles we hire for today may not be what we need six months from now. So we always hire knowing that we want athletes who are smart and can get things done.”

At Trello, deciding on the traits, skills, and experience a new hire will need to bring to the table is a team effort. The hiring manager will put together a job description with input from the team, then put together a hiring panel together with a Trello recruiter. Job seekers who pass an initial screening call will complete a short assignment, which doesn’t eat into candidates’ time too much but helps Trello understand how they would tackle a real-life task on the job. (It also helps candidates get a more tangible sense of the work they’d be expected to carry out—which isn’t always easy when interviewing remotely.)

“The homework assignment that we have them do is something that's very, very relevant,” Stella says. “Then we'll have our hiring panel look for a certain thing in that assignment. If it's a product marketing manager role, they'll be looking for messaging and positioning. If it's a writing role, they'll look for structure of thinking or tone.”

By making sure your team is involved in selecting a new hire’s needed traits and keeping your hiring panel’s focus directly on those traits, you can make sure you’re welcoming the right person onto your remote team.

Keep The Process Transparent And Scalable

Just like you want to keep teammates closely involved when it comes to deciding the traits your new hire should have, you should also keep them in the loop throughout the hiring process.

Emily Castro, Senior Recruiter at Atlassian, uses a mixture of Confluence and Trello to keep teams in the loop when she's recruiting new team members for them. Since each department has unique needs, Emily and her team will build out a Confluence page for each, detailing the hiring process. The page will include what the remote interview process looks like, common interview questions, which teammates are involved, and the skill sets her team is looking for. That way, everyone involved knows what needs to happen—whether the software engineering team is searching for a new engineer or the marketing team needs a writer.

“It’s a repeatable process that we can use in the future,” Emily says. “It really allows for you to have a collaborative and open communication with the partners that you're working with, as well as scaling any repeatable processes.”

Emily and her team then update a Trello board as they post the role to LinkedIn and begin scheduling interviews. As candidates move through the different interview stages—including an initial screening call, a formal interview, a short project, and a final interview—Emily’s team will update any candidate cards on a shared hiring board so that everyone involved has visibility into progress. The recruiting team will also update their recruiting pipeline board so that everyone knows exactly where each position stands.

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“We use Trello to share the status of candidates, share the pipeline that we have for that particular role, and then just to identify the process and who's involved as well,” explains Emily. “This has really helped us in the remote space—because you don't have that opportunity to be sitting next to somebody and giving updates on a regular basis. These are things that you can easily share with folks, and they can have full access to what's been going on.”

Give New Employees A Clear Roadmap

Once a candidate has run the gauntlet and made it through to being a new hire, it’s time to welcome them in with a warm onboarding experience. This is where remote working can become a little more intimidating than working in an office: New employees have no new desk to walk to, they’re not treated to a team lunch on their first day, and it’s not exactly clear what’s expected of them.

You can make that transition easier with a clear roadmap.

When a new employee joins Trello, they’re given access to their very own 30-60-90 day plan, a personalized Trello board that provides a roadmap to their first 90 days at Trello. The board will include helpful links, company information, and suggestions on Slack channels, mailing lists, and tools to join. They also learn exactly what they’ll be working on during their first three months at the company.

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“I think the big difference with remote work is that it’s a results-oriented culture,” Stella says. Remote workers need to have a strong understanding of what’s expected of them and clear communication with their manager so that they know what needs to be prioritized. “Then you’re left to your own devices for doing that work and managing your time.”

Don’t Forget To Foster Connection

Prior to the pandemic in 2020, Trello used to fly remote new hires out to an Atlassian office for their first week, bringing them together with their manager and teammates in person. If new hires were starting around the same time, Trello would also batch their trips, so they’d have the chance to start work together and meet new teammates.

“It was very much a bonding thing,” Stella says, “since I think one of the biggest challenges for people who haven't worked remotely before is feeling disconnected or lonely.”

With social distancing measures and stay-at-home orders in place, Trello pressed pause on their in-person first weeks for new hires. But post-pandemic, the team is trying to figure out how to get teammates together once again.

“We’re thinking of ways that we can make sure people get face time and still socialize with each other,” Emily says. “We may end up doing a quarterly event where teams can meet in person if they want to. Of course, we don’t want to force people to meet in person or travel if they have other things going on in their life. You don’t have to attend—the reason for allowing remote work isn’t to make things harder for people; it’s to make things a lot easier.”

If you’re not able to get employees together in person, make sure you’re fostering connections—and fun—online. Atlassian does this by sending new hires welcome gifts, organizing digital hangouts during work hours, and offering employees a work-from-home benefit to set up the perfect home office. New hires are also matched with an onboarding buddy who connects with them regularly to check in on their progress and be a friendly face in the (digital) office.

“We want to make sure that people are still feeling the excitement of joining a new team and a new culture,” Emily says. “It’s about making sure that our onboarding allows for the same interaction and collaboration you’d have when you were in person.”

Stay Flexible As You Fine-Tune Your Process

Finally, as you land on the perfect staffing process for your organization, stay flexible. Your remote hiring methods will likely change as your enterprise grows or your teams’ needs change. “You have to be very flexible and self-aware as an organization because things will break or they may not work for your culture,” Stella says. “There has to be a learning curve.”

With the right approach, a remote hiring practice can widen and diversify your talent pool while supporting employees’ engagement levels and work-life balance. To learn how you can use Trello Enterprise to help you in your search for remote talent, reach out to the Trello sales team.


Good or bad, we’d love to hear your thoughts. Find us on Twitter (@trello)!

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