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Best Ways to Onboard Remote Employees

July 27, 2020

Best Ways to Onboard Remote Employees

The onboarding process for employees is one of the key tools that organizations have to improve engagement, reduce turnover and increase productivity. When you have remote employees as part of your team, your onboarding process may need to change. 

Research has found that 4.7 million employees work remotely. Remote work has grown 44 percent over the past few years. Researchers also found that companies that have remote workers have seen a growth in productivity. So, whether you have been working with remote teams for a long time or are new to the process, there are some good reasons to develop a onboarding program for new employees who will be working from home. 

Essentially, the purpose of an onboarding program doesn’t change whether you have in-person or remote employees starting work with your organization. But, the way you deliver that program will change. While not having in-person time can be a challenge, there are ways to overcome it and provide your new hires with the best onboarding experience

What is onboarding?

The process of onboarding an employee or new hire is different from any orientation programs your organization may have for new employees. Onboarding has a more long-term focus. While orientation instructs employees on how to do their job, onboarding goes deeper and helps integrate them into your company. 

Most onboarding programs have been designed for in-person hires, but they are just as important for your remote workers too. Even if they don’t work out of your office, remote employees will need to understand your policies and practices and feel connected to others in your company. With employees who work from home, video conferencing is one of the best technologies that you can use in your onboarding process. 

Video conferences

Thanks to COVID-19, most organizations and individuals have become wizards with video conferencing technology. When it comes to video conferencing platforms, there are several different options on the market including Zoom, Google Hangouts, GoToMeeting and more. There are a number of benefits to using video conferencing with your remote employees including:

  • allows employees to communicate with one another and stay in touch
  • can create a better bonding experience than an audio call
  • users can benefit from seeing facial expressions and body language

While there can be an adjustment period for those who are not familiar to the technology, video conferencing can be an important communication tool for remote teams. 

Advantages

The advantages of onboarding your employees extends to remote workers too. These include:

Engagement - by starting your onboarding process early, you’ll help your remote employee to become more engaged with your company. 

Belonging - building a sense of belonging for new hires is one of the most important benefits that come with an onboarding process. 

Understanding - unlike in-person employees who can often pick up on your company’s unique practices and policies during their time in the office, remote employees cannot. A good onboarding process will help new remote employees come to understand the personality and practices of your organization. 

Paperless - a digital onboarding experience is environmentally-friendly by reducing the amount of paper that is produced during the process. It also helps employees reduce clutter on their desks. 

Disadvantages

It can be challenging to onboard new employees who will be working from home. Some of these disadvantages include: 

Lack of in-person contact - it can be easier to get to know someone if you have some in-person interaction. Unfortunately, that can be one of the biggest challenges that comes with remote teams. 

Camaraderie- building a collaborative team can be tough when your team members are scattered all over. When you bring a new employee into the team, creating an atmosphere of comaraderie can be a big obstacle. 

Tips for remotely onboarding new employees

Here are some ways you can prepare a remote onboarding process:

  1. Make a checklist: To help your remote employee get started, create a checklist to help guide them through their first few days and weeks. You can have your remote team break down their weekly goals into small steps. Then assign some of these steps to your new employee. This is a good way to help them get comfortable in their new role. 
  2. Introduce your remote employees to your other team members: It is best if you let your team know right away that you have hired someone new. Rather than waiting to make the announcement during your next team meeting, send everyone a quick message with a couple of sentences about the new team member. You can ask your new employee to write it or even to send a quick video introduction of themselves that you can share with the team. 
  3. Assist your remote employees with their home office: Even if your new hire is comfortable working from home, there might be some specific needs they have to do their job well. Check-in with them to see if they have any needs for their home office that you can help with. This can include hardware, software, furniture, internet connection or more. Let them know about any home office reimbursement programs that your organization offers. This can let them know that you are willing to help them do their job to the best of their ability. 
  4. Match them with a mentor: Having a mentor can be one of the most positive experiences for employees, particularly if they are new to your organization. Learning the ropes from someone with more experience and seniority can help them understand policies and practices. Mentoring, even in a remote situation, can lead to higher employee engagement, less turnover and more advanced skill development. Just like working on a remote team has its own unique practices, so too will remote mentoring. However, it is worth matching your new remote worker with a mentor. 
  5. Ask for feedback: Let your new remote employees offer their input into your onboarding process. This can help you better understand what elements need to change and what works best. You can ask employees who have gone through your remote onboarding process to fill in a survey or simply send you an email about their experience. 
  6. Provide an employee handbook: Along with all the paperwork that you send to your remote employees, add a handbook. This helps them become more familiar with your organization and what is expected of them. 
  7. Let them know about skill training and education opportunities:  Even though your remote employees are not in the office on a regular basis, they should still be included in organizational activities. This includes any workshops or training sessions that you have planned. You may even want to develop some educational opportunities that cater to your remote employees. 

If your organization is looking to simplify the onboarding process with your remote employees, let us help.


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