Onboarding is another essential process that had to be reinvented for Zapier’s nontraditional setup. And it’s another one that Foster finds they’ve actually improved on. “Think about a co-located office. When you join the company you walk in, get introduced to everybody, maybe meet the executive team for a lunch the first week,” he says. Enter Zapier’s “Airbnonboarding” concept, where a new hire or two join the three cofounders, often with a couple other team members, and work out of a Mountain View Airbnb for a week.
“It really helps build the relationship between us as founders and everyone on the team, because they come out here and for a week and we work in the same room. In the evenings, we hang out and take them out on the town,” he says. “They know we care about them and we want them to be successful. It makes it a lot less scary to interact with us — and everyone else on the team — in Slack.”
Clearly, the Zapier team are big fans of their distributed structure, and they’ve taken pains to make theirs a rich, complete workplace. But whatever your setup, Foster shares one note of caution: think twice before moving toward a hybrid local/distributed workforce. “The toughest scenario seems to be doing the split, because now you have these two cultures. You’ve got your in-office culture and now you’ve got these remote people. It creates a second-class citizen out of remote workers, because they aren’t hooked into the hub. ”