Ensuring remote workers feel like part of the team.

Russell Smith

Former Co-founder and CTO at Rainforest QA



When you have a team with some remote workers, it can be difficult to know how to integrate these workers with the rest of the team, and how to make people feel like they're still part of the team. To assist with this, my company, Rainforest QA, changed some of the ways in which we work.

Actions taken

Our all-hands meeting used to consist of a bunch of people in the San Francisco office, and then remote workers would join in the meeting via a TV screen on the wall. Some staff members complained about this way of doing things, and when I was working remotely I could see why. The remote workers weren't seen as equal to those working in San Francisco, and they were basically ignored.

"The remote workers weren't seen as equal to those working in San Francisco, and they were basically ignored."

Every six months we have two remote weeks. Each week, half of the company will work remotely so that they can experience what it's like to work remotely, and they can experience the disparity that occurs when they are calling in remotely to a local team. If everyone was working remotely, they wouldn't be able to see this. Because of this, we patch everyone into the call, even if they're based in San Francisco. This ensures that everyone is on equal footing. To assist, we moved to better technologies, such as Zoom, and invested in high-quality internet.

Transparency is also crucial when working with team members who work remotely, especially in large companies. For example, notifying people when you have fired someone is more difficult, as you can't easily tell the whole company. To aid with this, we have a weekly meeting with the exec team where we discuss what the whole company is up to. This information then filters down to team members. The point of this is to give people as much insight into the running of the company as we can.

We also have an AMA section as part of our bi-weekly all-hands meeting. People can submit questions, with the ability to do this anonymously, and we will ensure that we answer all of the questions sent in. Because we have people working remotely, we change the time of day that meetings are held, so that everyone gets a chance to participate semi-regularly in the all-hands. Staff are also able to schedule when they want their question answered, so they can ensure they attend the meeting.

Lessons learned

By ensuring that employees were able to communicate, and by ensuring that there was transparency, we were more able to motivate our employees, and were able to ensure that they felt like they were part of the Rainforest QA team.

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Russell Smith

Former Co-founder and CTO at Rainforest QA

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