Onboarding

This page describes our onboarding procedures, both internal and for the new employee, and details on how to get your work computer.

Steps before an offer is made

The general process for making an offer is documented on the recruiting page. Apart from what’s there:

  1. Reach out to CEO and CTO and allow them to meet the candidate.
  2. Complete a new contractor (or freelancer) onboarding form, if applicable.

Steps after an offer is accepted

  1. Once an offer is accepted in writing, reply to the candidate, CCing People Ops via his Synura email address to introduce the candidate to him.
  2. If the new team member is in the United States, People Ops will reach out to them and get any information needed (typically the new team member’s home address and phone number) and send them a consulting or employment agreement through Docusign. If the new team member is an international employee or contractor, People Ops will start the hiring process in our non-US payroll and expense system (internal only). Note: International contractor and employment agreements are handled by the non-US payroll and expense system (internal only) when you start the hiring process.
  3. For US employees/contractors After an agreement is signed and stored in the correct Google Drive folder, People Ops will start onboarding the new team member in our US payroll system (internal only). If the new team member is a W-2 employee, People Ops will reach out to them and schedule an I-9 verification meeting. Note: If we’re hiring in a new state, we’ll have to register for state taxes and unemployment. This process can be handled by our US payroll system (internal only) usually.
  4. Before their first day at Synura, People Ops will create a Google Workspace account for the new team member, add them to the Synura Gitlab project, create an onboarding issue in the onboarding repo, and invite them to join Slack. If the new team member needs to purchase a work computer, People Ops will set them up with a company credit card with our credit card provider (internal only).

US-based consultants

When retaining the services of a U.S.-based consultant, please use the Open Core Ventures consulting agreement. Follow these steps to fill it in:

  1. Change the ‘Effective Date’ located on PAGE 1 under the Title.
  2. On PAGE 8
    1. Add the name and title of the Employee executing the Agreement in the ‘CLIENT:’ section.
    2. Add the name of the consultant in the ‘CONSULTANT:’ section.
  3. On Exhibit A (PAGE 9): 3. Fill in the ‘Project Assignment: #’ Section with the appropriate Project NUMBER below the tile. For Engineering, project numbers start with E followed by a NUMBER. 4. Fill in the ‘Dated:’ Section with the appropriate date below the tile 5. Fill in the date the work will start and the date it will end under ‘Schedule Of Work:’ 6. Set the hourly fee in Section A of ‘Fees And Reimbursement:’ 7. Set the maximum amount we may pay the consultant for the project in Section C of ‘Fees And Reimbursement:’ 8. Add the Scope of Work in the ‘Project:’ Section of the Exhibit A section (PAGE 9)
  4. On PAGE 10 9. Add the name and title of the Employee executing the Agreement in the ‘CLIENT:’ section 10. Add the name of the consultant in the ‘CONSULTANT:’ section on PAGE 10 11. Fill in the ‘Dated:’ Section with the appropriate date
  5. DO NOT CHANGE EXHIBIT B AND C.
  6. Sending the full contract via Docusign or helloSign.
  7. Add signature lines for CEO and Contractor on the main Agreement (Page 8)
  8. Add signature lines for CEO and Contractor on Agreement and Exhibit A (Page 10)
  9. DO NOT TOUCH Exhibit B and C — these are for reference only
  10. Send to CEO and Contractor for signature
  11. Email peopleops@synura.com to inform them to set up the consultant with a 1099 form.
  12. Save the executed copy of the Agreement to our Shared Drive for contracts. (Ask CEO for the link.)

Onboarding a new advisor

Advisor agreements are sent through DocuSign, using the “Advisor Agreement” template. To send a new advisor agreement, you’ll need the new advisor’s name, and the number of shares they are offered. Once the agreement is sent, add a new row to the advisory board spreadsheet (this document, containing contact info and how they help, is not yet created) and enter the new advisor’s information. Use this spreadsheet to track the advisor’s progress through the onboarding process.

Note: Be sure to mark any columns that haven’t been completed yet as “TODO”

When the agreement is completed, make sure it is in the correct Google Drive folder, and ask the new advisor to add us on Linkedin, Crunchbase, and AngelList (link TBD).

All-remote

We’re an all-remote company with employees everywhere, and we don’t have a home office. This can be quite different from an in-person company if you haven’t seen it before. GitLab, one of the all-remote pioneers, has a great all-remote guide for any company that can help you get going.

The first month at a remote company can be hard. Particularly if you’re new to working in a 100% remote environment, read over the GitLab Guide for starting a new remote role and how to thrive in an all-remote environment.

Being a manager at an all-remote company comes with its own challenges as well. Check out GitLab’s manager guide for building trust to learn more about how to be effective at this.

Workstation setup

Spending company money

As we continue to expand our own company policies, we use GitLab’s open expense policy as a guide for company spending.

In brief, this means that as a Synura team member, you may:

  1. Spend company money like it is your own money.
  2. Be responsible for what you need to purchase or expense in order to do your job effectively.
  3. Feel free to make purchases in the interest of the company without asking for permission beforehand (when in doubt, do inform your manager prior to purchase, or as soon as possible after the purchase).

For more developed thoughts about spending guidelines and limits, please read GitLab’s open expense policy.

Purchasing a company-issued device

Synura provides laptops for full-time team members to use while working at Synura. As soon as an offer is accepted, someone will reach out to the new teammate to start this process and get it shipped.

Team members are free to choose any laptop or operating system that works for them, as long as the price is within reason.

When selecting your new laptop, we ask that you optimize your configuration to have a large hard drive (video files are large) and be available for delivery or pickup quickly, without having to wait for customization. We recommend Apple MacBook Pro 14", 512 GB for non-engineers, and Apple MacBook Pro 16" for engineers.

When a device has been purchased, it’s added to the spreadsheet of company equipment (internal only) where we keep track of devices and equipment purchased by Synura. When the team member receives their computer, they will complete the entry by adding a description, model, and serial number to the spreadsheet.

You need to have a good workstation to work from home to be a productive contributor at Synura. Full-time teammates may use company money to purchase office equipment and supplies, as they do at GitLab. (Part-time teammates or contractors should ask their manager before making purchases.) We mostly follow the guidelines described in their policies, though one important distinction is that within Synura, purchases exceeding USD 500 are company property and are required to be tracked in the Employee Equipment - Fixed Asset Tracking sheet (internal only).

There’s a link below that provides details on reasonable prices for items on the list. Look at our finance page for instructions on how to file expenses.

Internet

As an all-remote company, you must have high-speed, reliable internet to be effective.

Audio/video

A nice webcam and microphone (Apple devices have great ones built-in) are very useful. Earbuds can be a nice, unintrusive way to improve your audio quality. You don’t need anything professional tier, but you want something that will be reliable and help you communicate clearly.

Security

In case of lost or stolen property, the employee should immediately notify security@synura.com.

Onboarding process

Welcome to the team! We take onboarding seriously and try to plan out something that is detailed and works for everyone. There’s a week-by-week process built in where we cover a lot of important topics. Note that onboarding applies to full-time team members as well as part-time and contract team members.

Before you join, your manager should create an onboarding ticket in GitLab. The process for them to do this is:

  1. Go to our onboarding project
  2. Create a Title of “Onboarding – employee name”
  3. Select Choose a template next to “Description”
  4. Select the New Teammate Onboarding template. This template has todos for the new teammate, for their manager, and to help set up the proper administrative needs.
  5. Schedule a daily check-in for each day of the first two weeks. Add this onboarding 1:1 issue as the notes for the agenda

Improving how we onboard

With each teammate we welcome, we learn a bit more about how to bring people onboard; as we learn, we update the template. Please be sure to share your thoughts and suggestions on how we can do better.

Relocation expenses

If you’re moving for work, Synura will pay relocation costs subject to pre-approval on the amount by your manager. We rarely if ever do this, though, as we are an all-remote company.

Welcoming new teammates

When a new teammate joins, we take the opportunity for the whole company to come together and welcome them to the team during the bi-weekly team call. We do this ritual to celebrate the growth of our team, to reflect on how we’ve grown over time and how every single new person has changed the trajectory of our company, to form new relationships among ourselves, and to help everyone know the newest member of the Synura team.

  • Each person introduces themselves, explains their role, and shares some tidbits about themselves.
  • Each person then calls on the next teammate on the agenda.

Fast Boots

A Fast Boot is an event that gathers the members of a team or group in one physical location to work together and bond to accelerate the formation of the team or group so that they reach maximum productivity as early as possible.

Why should you have a Fast Boot?

Right now, the fast boot is intended for new teams or for teams with a majority of new members who need to build their culture of shipping work. If your team fits this description, you can propose holding a Fast Boot to reduce ramp-up time and establish and strengthen relationships between team members.

How should you get approval?

First, raise the idea with your manager to determine if there’s a good case for a Fast Boot. Ultimately, the executive team will approve these on a case-by-case basis.

How should you measure success?

When building the case for your Fast Boot, you should determine what metrics you will use to measure success. For example, after the Fast Boot, you may expect your engineering team’s throughput to increase or you may expect your support team’s mean time to ticket resolution to decrease. You may also want to measure the sentiment of the team members after the Fast Boot with follow-up surveys.

What artifacts should you produce?

During the Fast Boot, the priority is building a culture of shipping work. Ideally, the group can work together to ship one large, high-impact item to production. Failing that it could be a backlog of smaller items. Secondarily you should record and live stream videos that give people insight into what your team is working on. Kickoff meetings, working sessions, and demos are all great candidates for being live-streamed.

Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Team members enjoyed meeting each other in person and got to spend a lot more time together than at the Summit/Contribute.
  • Team members now feel more comfortable asking for help, especially across teams (FE, BE, UX).
  • Team members understood each other’s workflows better, allowing them to organize better and work more efficiently in the future.
  • Remote work can feel very transactional. Fast boots are a way to connect at a slower pace.

Cons

  • It takes time to create a proposal and get approval.
  • It takes a fair amount of planning: hotels, flights, meals, content, and follow-up.
  • It can be expensive.
  • It is antithetical to the way we usually work at GitLab, so it’s important not to use it to establish an in-person way of working.
  • It can be mentally and physically exhausting to spend a lot of time with team members outside of personal comforts.

Tips & Tricks

  • Hold the Fast Boot in a location where at least one of your team members resides. In addition to reducing the cost of flights and hotels, your team member can act as a guide to the city and help choose and book locations.
  • Set clear expectations about how your time will be spent. Will there be downtime? Will the team eat dinner together every night?
  • If at all possible, select one day for non-work-related activities on the tail end of the Fast Boot. Doing a fun activity will allow team members to get to know different aspects of one’s personality.
  • Keep the event as short as you can (while still getting the results you need) to prevent everyone from feeling too burned out by the end.
  • Agree and plan what events should be recorded and stick to the plan for the rest of the event.
  • Prepare any equipment for recording (or streaming) the events while getting approvals for Fast boot. Basic cameras might not be sufficient and additional equipment might need to be rented.
  • When booking accommodation, ensure that everyone gets enough personal space. Consider that everyone will spend most of the day working together, so personal downtime might be needed.
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