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How we connect new and existing team members in a more meaningful way
When your people are distributed around the globe, bringing new team members into the fold is hard. But if we don’t have some level of connection — on a personal level — to the people we work with, how can we fully value their skills and operate effectively as a team?
That’s the dilemma we face at Biteable.
We know how important it is for our employees to bring their whole selves to their work, and to be seen by their team as more than just a job title and a profile picture on Slack. But with people distributed across every continent and in more than a dozen time zones, this is really difficult to achieve.
One important way we solve this problem is by encouraging all new Biteableers to introduce themselves with a short, personal video during their first week of work.
We’ve been a remote company since 2014, and I can attest that video introductions do far more than what a new hire email could ever achieve. Here’s why we live and die by video introductions. (And how you can replicate our process at your own company).
Noah reminds me of the impact video can make
I’ll start off by sharing a quick story about Noah. Noah works for Influx, an agency that helps us staff our customer support around the clock with SaaS specialists. We recently brought him on to support our engineering team.
When I watched Noah’s intro video the other day, it reminded me why we started doing video introductions in the first place.
Noah lives in Nairobi, Kenya and he’s the only Biteable team member in his time zone. He primarily works asynchronously. In his role he’ll have very few opportunities to work with people outside his own team.
But that doesn’t mean he should remain unknown and unseen.
Even though Noah is an Influx employee, he operates as part of our Biteable team. It’s important that other Biteableers get to know him and feel comfortable coming to him with questions.
After meeting Noah, I quickly realized he’s a rising star with a lot to contribute. He has a contagious smile and a passion for what he does. How could this possibly be captured in a few lines of text? It would take paragraphs to get at the essence of who Noah is. And even then, those paragraphs would only be skimmed over by existing team members — at best.
I’m not naive. I already know employees aren’t reading emails, so they’re definitely going to skip a wall of text written about an oncoming team member. Can you blame them? There’s so much more to us than where we went to college or what we did at our last job. Email introductions do a poor job of telling the whole story.
On the other hand, Noah’s video introduction made him a unique part of Biteable’s culture from the moment he clicked publish.
Why video introductions work so well
Using a Biteable video introduction template, Noah popped in a few bits of information about who he is, what interests him, and what he’s excited to work on.
Just a few minutes later, the video was off to our company Slack channel where Noah was welcomed by Biteableers around the world. As team members watched the video, they used the same Slack thread to mention common connections and to welcome him to the company.
Video made Noah a welcomed and valued part of the team in minutes. Email wouldn’t have had nearly the same impact.
I like video introductions because they make new team members feel welcome and they create connections with existing employees that traditional communications can’t.
Video paints a far more complete picture of who a person really is — beyond their job title. It also gives the new team member total control over their message and video content, allowing them an opportunity to introduce themselves in a unique and personalized way.
For example, from watching Noah’s video I know that he enjoys working out and is excited to support the engineering team in his new role. If I were a new team member, I might be able to relate to that.
I would also get the sense that he is an approachable, energetic person. I’d probably be much more comfortable reaching out to him with a question or a request, because I would feel like I already knew him on some level.
For distributed teams where a flurry of communications happen night and day, twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week, this level of trust and connection can’t be undervalued.
How to make video introductions a part of your company culture
If you’re looking to implement video introductions company-wide, here are my tips for a smooth process.
Start from the top down. Encourage leaders to make and share video introductions, even if they’ve been with the company for a long time. It will let team members get to know them better and provide a point of reference that helps everyone feel more comfortable creating their own videos.
Encourage authenticity. Video helps teams maintain a human connection when they can’t be together in person. But it only works if people are willing to put perfection aside and just be genuine in their videos.
Include video intros in your onboarding process. Make sure new hires know what’s expected of them. Simple instructions (I’ve included some below) and references to examples will help them get started.
Create a library of introductions. At Biteable, we use Notion to house our introductions. But it doesn’t matter where you keep your company’s library, as long as it’s accessible. Our team members’ video introductions are linked in a database so new hires can watch them and get to know their peers more easily.
Template and instructions for new hires
A video template and a quick set of instructions makes this process simple for onboarding. I’ve included example instructions and one of our intro templates below.
For your video introduction, you can start from scratch or use one of the templates we provided you. Either way, have fun and be authentic. This is a chance to give your team members a sense of who you are beyond the screen.
Length: 2 minutes or less
What to include:
- 1-2 things to let the team know more about you, such as:
- Hobbies / interests / passions
- Favorite color, food, sports team, travel destination, etc.
- Family / friends / pets / loved ones
- A fun fact about you
- Where you live
- Where you worked previously
- Your position at the company
Features to include:
Feel free to get creative and include any or all of these features:
- Pictures or video clips from your own life
- Stock photos or video footage
- Scene transition
- A soundtrack