Documentation in a remote-first environment is critical. With colleagues across multiple time zones, there isn’t always much overlap in working days. Clear and concise, yet thorough documentation is how we can ensure that productive work can continue without any blockers.
As we onboard new team members, documentation for the tools and processes they will need to use to be successful in their role is important. They won’t be able to shadow you live in all of your work (unless you want to invite someone to come work from your home with you for a week), so a significant amount of the onboarding process needs to be self-guided. Our goal is to enable our colleagues to have all the information at the ready where they can start being productive on their first day of work.
At a startup, we are constantly enabling our team with new tools and creating new processes. The easiest way to build up a strong set of documentation is to “build as you go.” As you create a new process or configure a new tool, consider if other people will need to use it in the future. If so, it makes sense to take a little bit of extra time to put together quick documentation so it can be ready for future use.
Documentation storage is important too (where and how). There’s no use to great documents if no one can find those documents when they’re needed.
Documents required by multiple team members should be stored in Coda, Jira, or Slite (or other similar cloud-based accessible tool), rather than locally on one person’s device. Make sure to follow the information hierarchy in tools like Coda and store files under the appropriate section so your colleagues can quickly access them.