The more organized you can be in onboarding remote employees, the better the outcome. Here are a few tips to help you get it right.
If your company is embracing work-from-home options for your team,
you may find yourself needing some sensible strategies for new staff onboarding
– namely, a process for onboarding remote employees.
While it takes a bit of extra effort and creativity, onboarding
remote employees doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may sound. After all, plenty
of all-remote companies have been making employees feel welcome and included
from a distance for several years.
And the more organized you are when onboarding remote employees, the
better the likely outcome for you and your staff.
Below are a few strategies that will help new remote workers:
- Feel clear about their respective roles
- Be engaged with their work
- Make productive contributions to your team
remote employees: same goals, different format
The main goal of employee
onboarding is to give your new hires a thorough understanding of their role
and empower them with confidence and clarity. This can enable them to put their
full energy into their work and truly excel.
Remote employee onboarding should have the same goals.
While you can’t take away the natural anxiety that comes when
someone steps into a new role, you can help alleviate worries new hires may
feel about learning the basics of their job.
Yes, even in a virtual context, you can scaffold new employee
success by providing structure and support, communicating well and helping them
engage socially with your team.
Your remote onboarding team
Having a great system for onboarding remote employees means having a great team to support the process and the new hires.
Ideally, each new hire would receive remote onboarding support
from three people:
- A designated HR representative (possibly their recruiter) provides continued support related to early HR issues, like selecting benefits options.
- A designated IT representative assists with new employee’s remote office setup.
- The manager or direct supervisor serves as the primary onboarding guide, helping employees adapt quickly to the organization and connecting their work to your company’s vision.
For IT and HR onboarding support, it’s best to give new remote
employees specific names and contact information, not just a number to call or
a link to click. Personalizing these forms of support can help remote employees
feel more connected.
new hires for day one of any job is important. When onboarding remote workers
specifically, being proactive – and collegial – between acceptance of the job
offer and the first day helps sets the right professional tone.
a remote context, managers should put a little extra effort in helping their
new hires get ready to start. Here’s a timeline outlining some important touch
points to make during this pre-employment period.
1. Two weeks before the first day
Email the employee and let them know the date their
office equipment will be delivered (if your company is providing it).
2. Following equipment delivery
Call the employee to ensure they received their office
3. One week before the first day
Have a video call with the employee to ensure they can log onto their computer and phone systems. This is a good time to see if anything seems to be missing from their setup.
4. One day before
Send a quick “see you tomorrow” message.
Remote employee welcome kit
If you are providing your new remote employee with company-issued
office equipment, you can utilize the shipment of their equipment as an
opportunity to provide additional onboarding information.
Here are some ideas of things to include in a remote employee
- All necessary office equipment – laptop, phone and any
- A printed roadmap detailing how to set up their home
office and log onto your company’s systems for the first time
- A reminder to have everything set up one week prior to
their start date
- Reference guide to all of the tools and resources
available to them (e.g., contact information for their supervisor, HR and IT
- Schedule of meetings for their first day or week
Those are the essentials, but you might also include items or
t-shirts branded with your company logo, gift certificates to a meal delivery service
in their area or other simple gifts.
The goal? To show your enthusiasm for their pending arrival.
If you put in extra effort to make this package smooth and
welcoming, not only will your new remote hires feel reassured that they’ve made
the right choice but also they may spread the word in your profession that your
company treats its people well.
Down the road, that positive, welcoming vibe might help you lure an elusive purple squirrel and other desirable candidates to your workplace.
First day tips
For your new hire, the first day of a remote position should feel
similar to a typical first day working in your office.
At the start, plan for the employee to have one-on-one time with
their supervisor in a videoconference. There should also be time available for
the employee to meet informally with their immediate co-workers, either in
groups or one-on-one.
If you would typically take a new hire out to lunch with other
members of your team, consider fun ways you might do this virtually.
For instance, plan a time for a meet-and-greet and have food
delivered from a restaurant to the new employee and each member from the team. Then,
have everyone get on a virtual call and enjoy dining together.
For new hires in your office, do you typically walk them through
your offices, introducing them briefly to people from other departments? You
can do something similar virtually, too.
Stroll through the building using a handheld device’s video camera. Or, create and present a pictorial slideshow that outlines important areas and highlights your organizational chart.
To build on the engagement you worked to establish on your remote
worker’s first day, continue to host virtual opportunities
for new employees to mesh with your team.
For example, host a Zoom coffee break every Friday morning,
assigning one person on your team to lead a discussion of a fun topic. You
could also give these meetings a theme (e.g., wear your favorite hat) or center
them on a light-hearted contest (e.g., bring your best drawing).
After a few weeks – and once they’ve gotten their bearing, give
your new hire a mini leadership opportunity, like moderating your coffee break
discussion. This will discourage them from simply listening and hanging in the background
on calls, helping everyone to get to know them personally.
Sidestepping a potential pitfall
Silence from a supervisor is probably the biggest mistake you can
make when onboarding – and supervising – remote employees.
Without a warm, regular connection to a key point of contact in
your organization, it’s easy for a new remote worker to feel aimless and
detached from your company’s mission.
Whether they’re scheduled weekly, daily or biweekly, having
regular check-ins scheduled from the outset can strengthen ties between
managers and remote team members. One-on-one standing meetings can help.
Through them, managers and employees can address questions and troubleshoot
a great place to work, virtually
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