Having remote employees is a great way of diversifying your team, not to mention the money that can be saved compared to traditional office-based teams. But, one area that often gets overlooked is onboarding. Unlike in-person onboarding, whether that looks like shadowing an experienced employee or getting to know your colleagues during meet-ups at the coffee machines, remote onboarding looks very different.
That’s not to say you can’t seamlessly onboard remote employees, but you do need a good process in place, here’s how:
How to onboard remote employees
The first week in any new job makes a huge difference to new employees. Let’s face it, starting a new and exciting role but feeling deflated after the first few days can instantly create a negative mindset for the future — not the first impression you want to make!
The key is being prepared. Welcoming new employees, remote or in-person, is an important part of your business so put the effort into making it enjoyable for them.
Here are 6 steps you should add to your remote onboarding process:
Create internal resources and a welcome kit
If you haven’t already, you need to create internal resources for your new and existing employees around business policies, values, employee benefits, and other essential information they need.
It can be awkward asking about lunch hours or company perks during your first week but with everything to hand, new employees can read through this in their own time. If you use something like Google Drive, why not add the relevant document to their personal drive so everything is easy to access on their first day?
You might also want to send a fun welcome pack to your remote employees. Company swag like a branded water bottle or mouse mat is a small gesture that can make them feel closer to the team even when working remotely.
Ensure their department manager is prepared
Often, when it comes to recruiting, the interviewing and job offer stage has all the focus but by the time it’s their first day, things get forgotten and it’s a last-minute rush to get things sorted for their start date. You want to avoid doing this!
Instead, always ensure that the department manager is prepared for onboarding their new team member. That means informing the rest of the team, perhaps even introducing themselves in a short email before their first day and generally having a plan for how you’re going to make them feel welcome.
As their direct manager, it’s a good idea to prepare a document, guide, or short presentation about the team and how their role is going to fit in. You don’t want to overwhelm them with information. But, there’s nothing worse than starting a new job and feeling like no one was ready for you to be there, especially when working remotely!
Get them set up on relevant platforms
Always make sure you’ve created accounts for your new employees on relevant platforms. From payroll gateways to HR platforms like Bamboo HR (which can also integrate with onboarding platforms like Remote if you’re hiring internationally), having everything set up will make their onboarding much more seamless.
Where necessary, also provide comprehensive training and guidance on how to use these tools effectively, ensuring they are comfortable and productive from the very beginning. Don’t forget about adding them to work channels too.
Plan a schedule for their first week
Working remotely as a new employee can be difficult when you’re not physically surrounded by your team. You can’t lean over your desk and ask for directions or ask a quick question, so when they’re not set up with work to do, they’re left twiddling their thumbs. That’s why you should plan their first week in advance.
For the first few days, you might want to concentrate on getting them up to speed with training materials and introductions. But after that, you should set aside work or tasks they can be getting on with.
As simple as it might be to ask new employees to ‘browse through previous work’ that’s not enough to fill entire days. In fact, it’s boring. Most employees want to get stuck in so make sure you have enough for them to do during their first week.
Assign them a mentor or buddy
Assigning a mentor or buddy to remote employees can significantly enhance their onboarding experience. The mentor can provide guidance, answer questions, and help the new hire navigate the company culture and processes so they don’t feel so alone. It also
fosters a sense of belonging and support, reducing any feelings of isolation common in remote work scenarios.
Having a mentor establishes a strong sense of belonging and support for the new team member despite the physical distance. This sense of connection with colleagues can go a long way in boosting morale and promoting a positive outlook, which is vital for a successful and satisfying remote work experience.
Check-in with them regularly
Regular check-ins are vital to gauge the progress and well-being of remote employees during the onboarding phase. Schedule frequent virtual meetings to discuss how they’re getting on and provide additional support as needed — this will be the start of good ongoing communication.
These check-ins should go beyond the realm of work-related matters. They present a unique opportunity to forge personal connections and build rapport between team members. By engaging in friendly conversations, sharing interests, and learning about each other’s backgrounds, you’re not only integrating them into the company professionally but also creating an environment where they feel valued on a personal level.
The onboarding process for remote employees establishes the foundation for their entire experience, so give it the attention it deserves! Incorporate these six crucial steps into your onboarding approach to ensure a smooth and effective onboarding journey.