Onboarding a Collaborator

As Edgeryders grows, we will welcome more new colleagues. We are a highly decentralized bunch, and very quirky, so there is a risk of bad communication, that leaves newcomers bewildered and slows down everybody else. This is a checklist for onboarding a new collaborator, written under the assumption that she has never worked with Edgeryders before. We recommend both the project leader and the new collaborator to read it, as a way to be on the same page.


1. Who can hire a collaborator, and when?

2. Formalities and starter kit

3. Culture and processes

1. Who can hire a collaborator, and when?

Project leaders or team make most hiring decisions. Compensation comes from project budgets. In large projects, project leaders might decide to break the project down and assign different parts of it to different teams. When that is the case, projects leader directly hire team leaders, endow them with a hiring budget and let them make the hiring decisions about their own teams.

2. Formalities and starter kit

Once the new collaborator has accepted to join Edgeryders, (s)he is provided with a basic toolkit. All collaborators have it. Depending on their role, some collaborators might need extra tools.

2.1. Write a contract

Needless to say, everyone in Edgeryders works according to a written contract. No exceptions.

Contracts purchase independent labor. We do not, as a rule, withhold money to pay taxes on behalf of collaborators. Rather, we pay them the gross amount, and let them sort out their own taxes and social security contributions. Edgeryders’ employment policy contains details on the legal relationships between the company and its collaborators, and their rationale. There is an exception: collaborators who are residents of Estonia. If you are hiring an Estonian resident, please get in touch with a member of the board.

Contracts are made of two part:

  • A contract template. As of 2021, there are two different contract templates, both agreed with an Estonian lawyer to make them tightly compliant with Estonian law. Pick the one appropriate to the case at hand:

  • A terms of reference annex. The project or team leader needs to write this. Please be specific, succinct and clear. We have a tradition of referring explicitly to the project the person is being hired for; most TORs start with a “Background” section, that name and describe, in one sentence, the project and Edgeryders’ role in it. The second section is normally called “Duties of the collaborator”, and spells out the duties of the collaborator. Many contracts have a third section, “General responsibilities of the collaborator”. This can be the same in most contracts:

    • Be familiar with, and loyal to, the company’s values, ethical stance and work culture.
    • Use responsibly, securely and dutifully the company’s designated physical and online workspaces. Use the allocated edgeryders.eu email address when communicating with third parties, CC-ing a company director as appropriate.
    • Commit to personal service, and refrain from subcontracting the work described in this contract to others.

2.2. Sign the contract

We generally sign contracts electronically. Use the process via SignRequest (see the Company Manual).

2.3. Platform account

The Edgeryders platform is where most work gets done. Ask the new person to sign up at https://communities.edgeryders.eu. Mind the naming convention. Project leader: if the new hire works on projects that have restricted workspaces, make sure you give her access to them. Generally, we add her account to a group of special users, such as Collaborators or Company.

2.4. Get a name@edgeryders.eu email address

See here. In Edgeryders, we use email only to communicate with people outside of the company and the community. The platform and the Matrix chat are the preferred channels for in-company and in-community interactions.

2.5. Matrix account

See here. The Matrix chat is our rapid exchanges channel.

2.6. Dynalist

As of March 2022, Dynalist has fallen into disuse. New collaborators are still welcome to use it if they want. In that case, see here. Dynalist used to be our minimal project management tool.

2.7. Google Drive Enterprise

We use Google Drive Enterprise as a file repository and collaborative document editing facility. We are looking for a suitable non-proprietary alternative, but in the mean time here we are.

  • If the new collaborator has a Google account, the project leader adds her to the relevant Team Drive(s) (cheaper solution – preferred).
  • If not, ask @matthias to create one for her.

2.8. FreeAgent account

The project leader creates a FreeAgent user for the new collaborator. If she does not have the necessary permission in FreeAgent, she can ask any of the Edgeryders directors. A collaborator with no special roles needs a level 2 FreeAgent account to submit claims for travel expenses refunds. A unit coordinator needs a level 5 account to be able to submit bills and emit invoices. See here.

2.9. Zoom

We use Zoom a lot for online meetings and conference calls. There is no need for individual Zoom accounts, though some people do have them. If the new collaborator is meant to organize online meetings on a regular meetings, she will need access to the corporate account. See here.

2.10. Google Calendar

We do not yet have a structured process around a shared calendar, and we would like to get out of Google anyway. But most people use a shared Google Calendar called “Edgeryders events”. All new colleagues should have access to it, until we find something better.

2.11. Business cards

If the new hire has a public-facing role, she or he will need business cards: I know, they are quaint, but we are already weird, so I think Edgeryders business cards might be reassuring and familiar. Files for business cards are here.

3. Culture and processes

Edgeryders has its own culture, quite different from that of most companies. We appreciate it can be disorienting at times. This section contains tips and references to help new collaborators make sense of norms and culture, that are often taken for granted by veterans.

3.1. Orientation and mentorship

As a newcomer to Edgeryders, we encourage you to ask more experienced colleagues to take some time for answering your questions and pointing you in the right direction. It could be a good idea for you to ask one of the veterans to be your mentor, a default go-to person that takes some care for the former’s integration process. Veterans are encouraged to be generous with their time; mentorship can be very rewarding.

If you have a problem working together with one or more of your colleagues, we encourage you to talk to @johncoate. John has agreed to act as Edgeryders’s “HR ombudsman”. He will listen attentively to what you, and then help you look for a solution. When you speak to John in his ombudsman capacity, he treats what you say as confidential, unless you agree otherwise.

3.2. Principles for collaboration and operations

Please read this short description of the principles underpinning our working together.

3.3. Company manual

The carefully maintained company manual contains descriptions of all main processes in Edgeryders. It is not necessary to read it through, just refer to it when you are in doubt. Please consider contributing to it, for example extending it to cover new or badly documented processes. Don’t worry, you cannot break anything: it is a full wiki, and we can always revert to its previous edit.


In our Templates folder, I found a document called Jella Contract Template v2 (Estonian law compliant) that has a good draft for a terms of reference annex in it. It’s not mentioned in the “Write a contract” section. @alberto, since you created that template: Was is its role? Can it be made into a new version of one of our two existing contract templates (which I have just linked directly in the manual above)?

Forget that. Just a lockdown hack :wink:

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