Onboarding of employees is an art that companies need to adapt skillfully for attaining employee satisfaction and achieving greater productivity. Almost all companies and firms strive their best in innovating new techniques in welcoming their new employees to generate a feeling of ease and comfort. But there is a marked difference in onboarding employees in an office and remote onboarding.
The real challenge is to create an atmosphere of harmony on the first day without a face to face interaction with the remote professionals. Companies need to hence think of skillful processes to integrate the remote employees into the company’s culture. In this article, we will discuss some of the best practices for onboarding remote employees which companies can follow to ensure a greater comfort zone for its employees.
A Well Organized and Planned Remote Onboarding Process
For a successful remote onboarding, organizations need to document the entire process which would eventually serve as the guide for new hires. It must contain mandatorily the remote employees onboarding checklist, listing the to-do activities to be followed by each professional joining the company. Some of the key contents of the remote onboarding document must be:
- The pre-requisites to be adhered to before a remote employee starts working which includes the tax, insurance, and payroll forms, the rules and regulations to be followed.
- Welcome kit with email and user id details of the employee
- The mandatory training details every employee needs to attend
- A summary of the assignments and tasks to be executed by the employees
- The various collaboration and interactive tools each employee can utilize to coordinate with the team
- The assessment process of the tasks executed by each employee to determine the performance matrix
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A structured remote employee onboarding process must also contain a training guide or manual with the training details like the training topics, dates, training content and the mode of training. Training help in scaling remote teams by increasing their competency levels and awareness of the companies policies and procedures. The remote onboarding document and the training guides must be available online or placed in a sharable location for the employees to access them remotely without any trouble.
Did you know?
People are now deviating from shifting to metro cities for employment due to the upcoming rise of working remotely. This ensures a reduction in the cost of living leading to an increase in the savings and comfortable lifestyle.
Also read: How to work from home successfully?
A Heartwarming Welcome to the New Team Members
While onboarding remote employees, companies must be aware of the fact that the employees need to stay motivated and comfortable during their work tenure. The process needs to start from Day 1 – The Welcome Greet and Induction into the Team. The employees must also be introduced to the existing team to generate a feeling of belonging within the company.
You can arrange a short video conference call with the new hire and the rest of the team to be acquainted with each other. A good approach while onboarding remote team members are to request them to provide a brief introduction of their skill sets, experience, what are their expectations and motivational goals.
Never speak with a commanding tone while welcoming a new team member working remotely. The etiquette of onboarding remote workers demands to speak with a soft pleasing tone to gain trust and confidence on the first day.
Clear and Transparent Expectations
One of the essential aspects of remote onboarding is to communicate clear and transparent expectations to the employees. Remote professionals often remain confused about the qualitative and quantitative outcomes expected from them. To avoid such a dilemma it is better to specify the objectives of the company and the team where the employee has been inducted along with the individual tasks and goals.
If there are any mandatory processes or training that need to be attended, it must be specified clearly to the employees. There must not be ambiguity in communication since we need to remember that we are dealing with employees who are not present in person. Any gaps in the expectations may lead to unnecessary confusion which may hamper the relation in the beginning.
As one of the best practices for onboarding remote employees, it is good to have FAQs in each document, checklists and training guides for easy reference.
Well Established Infrastructure Facilities
As part of the process of onboarding remote team members, it is important to check out on the infrastructure facilities existing at the location from where the remote professionals operate. The internet connectivity, communication facilities, and the necessary software installations must be in place to ensure proper collaboration from the beginning. You can offer to provide proper guidance and support in case of any shortcomings with the facilities adopted by the remote workers.
You can even offer to conduct a small test to verify the proper functioning of the collaboration and communication media. In this way, both parties gain confidence in the successful operation of the infrastructure facilities.
As one of the best practices for onboarding remote employees, you can associate a mentor with a group of newly hired team members. The mentor will eventually guide and support the remote team for any clarifications related to compensation, infrastructure, norms, etc. Mentors are also instrumental in instilling the company’s vision, mission, values and culture within each employee.
Impressive Welcome Note
Professionals working remotely often fear being left out from the team and experience a feeling of disconnect. They nurture a feeling of being ignored or neglected from important decisions. Companies need to eliminate these kinds of apprehensions from the mind of the employees working remotely.
It is therefore advisable that as part of the remote employee onboarding process, organizations should prepare an impressive welcome note addressing the common concerns of remote employees. It is sometimes observed that the first few weeks of remote onboarding are confusing for professionals since they struggle to be acquainted with the new rules and the team. To avoid such situations, companies must create a friendly and comfortable environment for them through frequent video calls and web conferences.
Fact to remember
For remote employees residing at the same location as the company’s office or in some nearby location, it is recommended to arrange face to face interaction on the first day of onboarding. Subsequent interactions may follow intermittently depending on the needs. It is one of the powerful tools for successful onboarding remote workers.
A Robust Training Program
An essential part of remote onboarding is scaling remote teams up to the company’s expectations, missions, and values. A robust training program with step by step processes of the courses to be undertaken should be prepared by the companies as part of its remote employees onboarding process. The program must comprise of the following:
- An induction to the company’s mission, vision, and values
- The Organization structure
- The Team structure
- The norms and regulations of the company
- Technical and Functional training curriculum related to the tasks and assignments
- Details of the different support groups
- Insurance and health premium policies
- Compensation and Performance evaluation processes
One of the best practices for onboarding remote employees is to ensure the training program is web based and placed at the company’s internal website. The remote workers can easily access the website and attend the training at their preferred time.
Establishment of the Communication Medium
Remote onboarding generates a common apprehension on the ease and frequency of communication. It is advisable to clear out the confusion at the beginning by specifying the mode and method of communication. Companies must include the communication aspect as one of their essential points in the remote employees onboarding checklist. It not only would bring in comfort and confidence among the remote employees, but companies would also be able to track the status and progress of the work assigned.
Video Conference calls, web conferencing, audio calls, are some of the common communication medium prevalent among companies working remotely. In addition to the communication medium, a fixed schedule must be set up every day for interacting and coordinating with the team. It is important to share the progress of the tasks and activities daily. Risks and problems must also be shared daily with the team for any future breach in the deadlines.
Fact to remember
Remote onboarding necessitates the flexibility to contact the team whenever needed during the specified office hours to ensure proper communication and coordination.
Build a strong Remote Office Culture
Since remote onboarding does not facilitate frequent face to face interactions, companies must strive to build and develop a remote office culture. Normally when employees work together in the office premises, they have the opportunity to greet each other intervals, move out for a coffee break or participate in various HR related events and activities. That fosters a sense of togetherness and unity. The privilege is not enjoyed by people working remotely.
Creating an office culture remotely needs to be well thought of since you would be involving people from different locations and sometimes with different cultural backgrounds. Some of the common methods companies can adopt may be:
- Indulge into some quizzes and debates on some interesting trending topics online
- Send out company t-shirts or mementos as a token of welcome and appreciation
- Dedicate a few minutes from your daily work to engage in general chat with the remote employees
- Send out emails to greet employees during any special festive occasions
- Organize family day if it is feasible to create a face to face interaction once or twice in 6 months
Tip: Companies are advised to engage an HR personnel and a mentor to occasionally ring up the employees as part of the remote onboarding process, to enquire about any help and guidance required. It not only creates a good relationship between the companies and their employees, but the employees are also relieved of any mental stress and anxieties which have a direct impact on their productivity and work quality.
Eliminating the feeling of isolation
Remote professionals seldom feel a sense of isolation and loneliness, is working at a different location at home or any coworking space away from the office environment. They may tend to feel disconnected from the usual office culture and interpersonal environment. A constant disturbance of the fact that they are not part of the broader office atmosphere may hamper their concentration and dedication which is not beneficial for the company.
Companies must, therefore, strive to ensure remote employees do not feel isolated by creating a friendly environment. Other than office work, you can encourage them to share their interests or hobbies across the organization. They may even be part of some tournaments related to sports or some entertainment shows. Exhibitions to showcase their talents and skills can be another way of sharing their inner zeal and enthusiasm on subjects of their interest.
A human mind constantly dwelling on work with no breaks tend to follow a declining curve of productivity. Whereas a human mind with occasional breaks from the daily office work tends to be more creative and innovative following an upper inclined curve of productivity.
Success in remote onboarding depends to a certain extent on a good feedback process. Immediately after the completion of the onboarding process, remote employees must be sent out a feedback form to share their experiences, bad and good points of the process, suggestions for improvement and additional support required from the company. It will generate a feeling of understanding and confidence among the remote workers and a belief in the company’s goodwill.
A feedback form essentially must consist of the following aspects:
- Ratings on a scale of 1 to 5 or 1 to 10 on the different dimensions of the onboarding process including training effectiveness, welcome kit, induction manuals, company documentation, etc.
- Improvements needed in the onboarding process allowing the employees to include the points for betterment
- Request employees to note down the drawbacks of the process which needs further enhancements
- Additional guidance and support required by the employees for induction into the company
Tips: The feedback form must be made available online on the company’s internal website or send across by email to the remote team. This practice must continue even after the onboarding process as a constant feedback mechanism
Hear concerns on specific associate or department
Remote professionals often may face hindrance in working comfortably with their peers, supervisor or the support groups of the company. Companies must not discourage them to voice their opinion instead they must encourage them to share their concerns. They can either appoint a mentor or an HR personnel to hear out their discomfort. The discomfort may be miscommunication or any lack of understanding which must be sorted out fast to avoid any further engravement of the situation. In certain cases companies may involve a senior person from the leadership to intervene and handle critical situations.
Allowing a grievance to settle in without any conclusive resolution is dangerous for the company’s health. Hence it is advisable for the companies to device a grievance redressal policy for the mutual benefit of the employees and the organization.
Many companies create an online grievance redressal portal for the employees to record their concerns. An ethics counselor or a senior HR personnel address the concerns and sometimes arranges a video conference call for smooth resolution.
Constant Improvements in the Remote Onboarding Process
A well-defined remote employee onboarding process determines a company’s success while working remotely. But the process needs to undergo a review process once every 6 months for further improvements. Surveys and feedback can be entertained by remote employees for suggestions and ideas. Senior leadership personnel with considerable years of experience can bring in innovative ideas for further enhancement in the onboarding process.
The welcome kit of remote onboarding process especially must be innovative and attractive for that first feeling of acceptance by the employees. You can include a small gift as a token of welcome with a personalized card. Handing over the company’s notebook or diary or a pen can also be a way of welcoming the new employees. Likewise, companies must deliberate on new ideas and techniques to engage the employees from the first day.
Improvising web and online training materials to make it more interactive and interesting must be an ongoing process. New modes of training are now coming up in the digital era which must be genuinely explored and adopted by the companies.
Right content development for training is a certain driving factor for effective training management. In the modern era, Artificial Intelligence, Robotic Process Automation, Chatbots, Blockchain, and Machine Learning are gaining prominence. Many employees judge a company’s intellectuality and future growth on the training content. Hence companies must have a good learning and training department or personnel for researching the modern advanced topics and provide employees the opportunities to build their competencies.
The emerging popularity of remote working speaks about its importance and advantages among many professionals in different parts of the world. But to ensure its success majorly depends on both the employees and the companies. Remote onboarding is one such important driving factor that determines the success of working remotely.