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Building and Scaling a Remote Team

GoSite added 175 employees in 2020, most of whom started their new roles virtually. As a manager charged with scaling a new department, the prospect of hiring, training, and onboarding people you’ve never met in person can seem daunting.

Sarah Lubeck
4 min read
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While many of us have been fortunate enough to work partially remotely in the past, adapting to the ‘new 100% remote normal’ hasn’t been without its roadblocks.  

At GoSite, we’ve learned a few specific tricks to help manage and scale remote teams.

1. Invest Your Time in the Right Thing — People

GoSite is using the capital from its funding rounds to invest in two things—our people and our product. And since you can’t have a great product without smart people, we spent a lot of time hiring in 2020.

Hiring someone remotely—without ever having an in-person meeting—gets easier after a few times. It’s once the new hire starts at GoSite, that the real fun begins. Remote onboarding involves a lot of systems coordination (e.g., do they have access to all the software they need?), meeting coordination (e.g., who do they need to meet with and is it on their calendar?), and knowledge transfer. Digital onboarding is much more self-service than in-person onboarding is.

Every new hire on the marketing team receives a detailed onboarding plan with 30-60-90 day plans. Though this was the same during ‘in-person’ onboarding, we’ve ensured this document is digital-friendly by linking to a lot of video how-tos (see #2) and a new hiring onboarding wiki that we refine from feedback after each new hire.

If there is another hire starting the same day, we also try to ‘pair’ up the two hires, so they can have a virtual onboarding buddy.

2. Record Everything and Create a Video Knowledge Base

screenshot of GoSite's knowledge base

When you’re in the office, if you have a question, a simple tap on the shoulder can help answer it. When you’re remote, this usually involves jumping on a video call and sharing your screen—especially as you’re onboarding new team members and teaching them new processes.

To make the best of these efforts, GoSite’s marketing team has created an internal knowledge base. Whether we’re scheduling a blog post, uploading a YouTube video, using specific HubSpot features, or developing full marketing strategy walkthroughs, team members are encouraged to record their screens, create a video and save it in our knowledge base, which we host in our project management system—Notion.

New team members are always welcome to ask questions, but we encourage them to first check the internal knowledge base.

3. Use Meetings and Schedule Wisely

Zoom exhaust is real. While sharing ideas and findings in real-time with your colleagues is important, we could all benefit from fewer meetings on our calendars. meeting manifesto that each team member follows when setting up meetings—especially remotely. This is emphasized during onboarding. Some of the items include:

  • Communicate and define a purpose in the invite.
  • Review and circulate necessary documents prior to the meeting.
  • Create an agenda and follow up with action items.

And while many people will preach the importance of ‘seeing’ your colleagues on the screens, sometimes, it’s nice to turn off the cameras and just do an old fashioned call.

4. Make Sure It’s Not All Work

screenshot of a virtual marketing team meeting with halloween costumes

There’s no playbook for getting to know people in the new digital environment. While in-person office time also calls for happy hours and other team bonding exercises, these activities—well, with the exception of happy hour—don’t always lend themselves to a remote setting. one another’s pets/co-workers and learn about other aspects of one another’s lives. We usually ask some rapid-fire questions to new employees as well.

And of course, for our Halloween lunch, we made sure to encourage costumes and fun.

5. Be Patient with Yourself (and others)

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that we are living in unprecedented times. While many have worked remotely before, no one has lived (and worked) through a global pandemic.

As a manager, it’s important to check in with your team members, especially as they are in their first few months and less likely to take sick or vacation days. On the marketing team, employees have been very willing to open up during one-on-ones. It became clear that not only do we have a great team of marketers at GoSite, but also a resilient and empathic team of humans.

Lastly, some things simply don’t lend themselves to a remote environment, and that’s okay. Although we’ve explored Mirro and other solutions for content brainstorms, we’ve found that nothing replaces a good old fashioned whiteboard and post-it notes. However, we’ve managed to adapt by leaving a little more time for individual brainstorming, and encouraging the team to add ideas to the content calendar as they come through.

 Seven months of managing a remote team at GoSite, and it’s hard to believe that we haven’t met most of our closest colleagues in person. While time will only tell what the future will hold for remote work, the lessons we have all learned—from patience to resilience to productivity—will carry themselves well into the future.

If you’re interested in joining GoSite’s team (and perhaps even want to go through some virtual onboarding), check out some of our available opportunities. 👇

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Sarah Lubeck
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