Here are the 5 tips for onboarding remote employees!
Onboarding is one of the most important parts of welcoming new employees. New joiners should be excited about their roles, but a lack of support in the first few weeks can dampen that enthusiasm and sour them on your business. If you can nail the onboarding process, you’ll get your new employees integrated and productive at a rapid clip.
This is much easier said than done, though, and goodwill alone won’t help you get it done. This is particularly true when you’re dealing with remote employees. After all, in-office conversations have always been good for getting people up to speed. So how can you accommodate the new normal of remote working?
In this post, we’ll set out five top tips for onboarding remote employees, explaining how you can adapt to suit the new paradigm. Let’s get started.
Get them set up online early
Since remote work is done entirely online, it’s a good idea to get all of a new starter’s online accounts, platforms, and resources set up before their first day. If you’re providing a laptop, be sure to get that posted to them as soon as possible too! With the necessary accounts already created, they can get settled in quickly instead of spending time doing nothing while they wait for access to essential tools and resources.
Let’s face it — starting a new job can feel daunting, so give your new employee one less thing to worry about by ensuring they have everything they need to do their job. Once they’re settled, it’s also worth enquiring about their home office configuration. Make sure they’ve got a good, ergonomic office chair, a sturdy desk (at the correct height) and all the necessary PC peripherals (keyboard, mouse, wrist rests, etc). If they’re missing any of these, consider expensing these items and ordering them directly to their address.
Create a first-week schedule
A clear schedule that covers the first week will give a new employee some much-needed clarity. Office-based inductions give people easy access to various team members capable of helping them when they feel lost, while remote working can feel very disconnected. What happens if your new hire can’t reach the one person they’ve dealt with so far? How will they know what they could — or should — be doing?
Recognizing that remote employees have different needs than office workers (check out Timedoctor’s guide on this) will allow you to create a more effective onboarding process, and one of the best ways to accommodate them is to make setting a first-week schedule part of your onboarding process. Each schedule should include introductions to various team members (including department heads), vital training sessions, and key tasks the employee can tackle. It’s also crucial to set clear expectations and goals.
Before your new remote employee starts, make sure they understand what is expected of them in terms of work tasks and responsibilities, as well as any goals or targets they need to meet thus making the process of onboarding remote employees easy.
Also read: 10 Best Remote Works for College Students
Organize virtual meet and greets
What better way to welcome a new starter into the team than by saying hello? It may sound obvious, but greeting your new remote employee during their first week will make a big difference in how they settle in. Whatever communication platform you use (whether that’s Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, Slack, or something else), organize a morning chat on their first day. Making it clear that there are friendly people available will help them feel confident and willing to reach out for help when they need it.
Over their first month of employment, try to plan regular team-building activities, a virtual social event and offer plenty of opportunities to build connections with colleagues. For example, you could host a weekly virtual coffee break where team members can chat informally and get to know each other better. Regular brainstorming sessions and cross-functional projects are a great idea, too.
Another way to foster a sense of community is to make sure that any new remote employees have access to the same resources and support as in-office employees. This can include things like access to professional development opportunities, mentoring programs, and any other resources that can help them succeed in their role. Overall, fostering a sense of community can help your new remote employee feel more connected and engaged, which can ultimately lead to better job satisfaction and performance.
Be on-hand and present
While you don’t need to completely clear your calendar when a new person starts, you do need to be present. It’s normal and reasonable for a newly-onboarded team member to have questions, so make your presence known online and let them know that you’re on hand to help. If you can’t help them immediately when they ask, at least acknowledge their questions and note that you’ll get back to them when you can.
This can be a challenge if you’re operating across time zones, admittedly. It’s still relatively rare, but there’s been explosive growth in permanent overseas hiring (due largely to the pandemic-induced embrace of remote working, but also due to the increasingly-accepted tactic of hiring via a Remote-style employer of record service), and it isn’t easy to be there for someone who’s starting their day when you’re going to sleep. But you can try. You can shift your hours slightly so you share some hours, embrace asynchronous working (complete with recorded training videos), and generally make an effort. They’ll appreciate it.
Discover their work style
Everyone works in a unique way, and it’s important to find out how your new hire prefers to get things done. Due to this, you should ensure that the onboarding stage gives them ample opportunity to talk about what they need. What’s their working style? Are they more of a visual learner, making videos useful, do they prefer 1-on-1 training sessions? Are they happy to be assigned work and complete it independently, or do they need assistance?
The more you learn about them, the better you can accommodate their preferences, and the faster you can start to take advantage of their strengths and work on their weaknesses.
The Dos and Don’ts of Remote Onboarding
Before we finish off, let’s recap and go over some dos and don’ts or remote onboarding:
- Provide clear instructions and expectations for the role.
- Set up regular check-ins with the new employee to provide support and answer any questions they may have.
- Give the employee access to any tools or resources they will need to do their job effectively (including office furniture if needed).
- Encourage open communication and make it clear that the employee can reach out to you or other team members for help or support.
- Assume that the employee knows how to use all of the tools and resources provided. Make sure to provide thorough training and support.
- Expect the employee to be immediately productive without providing adequate support and guidance.
- Leave the employee to figure things out on their own. Make sure to check in regularly and provide support as needed.
- Ignore any concerns or issues the employee raises. Address them promptly and professionally.
Give new remote employees the best start today by incorporating these five top tips into your onboarding process. Get this right and you’ll have happy, motivated, and productive team members regardless of where they’re based or how they work.