Strategies for Onboarding Remote Employees More EfficientlyAUTHOR: Noah Rue
Remote work has seen a consistent rise over the last few years, followed by a sudden jolt in popularity bred out of necessity during the COVID-19 pandemic. We might be moving into a post-pandemic society, but many businesses and employees have recognized the benefits of remote work and decided to keep it up.
Even though remote work is popular, it’s still a relatively new way of working. That’s left many businesses trying to iron out the best practices for both managing and hiring remote employees.
Onboarding a remote employee is a completely different experience from onboarding someone who will work in person. There can be bumps in the road to getting them started if you don’t have an effective and efficient strategy in place. Luckily, there are steps you can take to start your work-from-home employees on the right path. These onboarding strategies can be put in place to ensure new remote employees are productive and feel welcomed quickly.
Keep Objectives and Goals Transparent
One of the best things you can do when onboarding remote employees is to be as proactive as possible. You should have everything they need at the ready before their first day, and those materials should be available to them at all times. Some common onboarding resources that could benefit your employees include:
- Training videos;
- All required software.
Having a central location for your remote employees to go to find these materials will make them feel like they have a healthy arsenal of resources at their disposal. That can make things less overwhelming.
In addition to making sure they have everything they need, you should be clear about your company objectives and goals. Hearing these expectations gives them the information they need about their new career path — which is just as important as tangible resources.
As you explain each objective to your remote employees, also explain how your company wants to achieve those goals. Outlining clear expectations will encourage new employees rather than overwhelm them. Keeping things as transparent as possible will help remote employees from getting confused or feeling lost when it comes to newly assigned tasks.
Introduce Everyone Virtually
Whether you have a couple of remote employees or your entire team is all over the globe, it’s still important for everyone to feel like they’re included and that they know what’s going on with company culture. Consider organizing video conferences with your entire team as part of the introductory process. Go over everyone’s roles and main objectives, and don’t be afraid to share a few fun, personal anecdotes about each employee.
You might not all be in the same office, but it’s necessary for your employees to feel comfortable working together, whether that’s via email, chat, or simply sharing cloud-based documents. You can continue to bolster the team environment by posting a welcome message on your team’s communication platform, like Slack, or send out an internal newsletter welcoming new employees and sharing a bit of information about them.
Another great way to make new remote employees feel more “at home” is to help them find a mentor. One of the drawbacks of working from home is often a lack of connection and support from coworkers that typically exists in an in-office setting. You can help to combat that by connecting new remote employees with someone who:
- Has a similar communication style;
- Knows the career background;
- Can offer the most guidance;
- Can give exposure to a certain part of the job.
Connecting new remote employees with a mentor can boost their career goals and make them feel more supported. Mentors give them an opportunity to ask questions, improve their comfort level, and settle into the job without feeling so alone.
Check Back Frequently
Even if you eventually get your remote onboarding process working like a well-oiled machine, it’s important not to stop there. While remote work can be great for productivity, that’s only the case if your employees feel like they’re valued, understood, and as though they’re part of a culture they respect and enjoy.
It’s very easy to get distracted when working from home, where many of your remote employees will be stationed. While you may not be able to prevent those distractions, you can ensure your employees aren’t feeling overwhelmed, confused, or burnt out by checking in. You can also offer tools to boost their productivity while letting them know that it’s normal for remote employees to be distracted easily.
During a remote employee’s first week or two, you’ll probably be in contact with them frequently. They’ll have a lot of paperwork to go through, so make things easier by using PDF-signing tools and cloud-based documents. Keep these communication efforts quick, and those new employees will become used to it in no time.
Don’t simply “disappear” after that orientation period, offering little to no communication afterward. Make it a rule to check back with new employees during their first 30, 60, and 90 days. These formal check-ins, in addition to more casual connections here and there to let your employees know you’re always available, will make a big difference in company culture and the support your remote employees feel.
Onboarding remote employees is a new and interesting process, but it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming one. Consider putting these strategies into practice to streamline the onboarding process and ensure success for all your employees across the globe.