Onboarding employees can be exciting. It’s a chance for you and your existing staff to meet the new employees and vice versa. More than that, it can be a chance to forge personal connections that will facilitate integrating your new employees into the existing team.
However, if your company is decentralized, remotely onboarding employees can be challenging. It’s harder to have that initial, instant personal connection.
Nonetheless, there are five remote onboarding steps you can take to make the whole process more effective.
Importance of Remote Onboarding
Onboarding means more than just your team and new employees getting to know each other; you also introduce them to the culture and company philosophies. It’s a chance to influence the future relations between your existing team and the onboarding employees.
Through onboarding, even remote onboarding, new employees learn how they fit into the company. When part or all of your team is working remotely, remote onboarding steps become especially critical.
Research has shown that employees who are engaged are more likely to stay with their company. Gallup found that engaged employees lead to:
- Better safety records
- Lower absentee rates
- Less turnover
- Higher profits
- Better quality products and service
- Better customer evaluations
A perfect time to jump-start your new employees’ engagement with the company is when you remotely onboard employees.
Remote Onboarding vs. Orientation
Remote onboarding is not the same thing as orientation. Onboarding allows new hires to become acclimated, which takes time (months or even a year.) During onboarding, employees are given knowledge, training, and resources to succeed in their new position.
Orientation is when your new employees fill out paperwork, set a start date, and get an assigned space. Orientation is over in a few hours or a couple of days at most.
There are five important remote onboarding steps, and they mainly occur after orientation:
- Having the remote workstation ready
- Tailoring the onboarding to new employees
- Employing onboarding “ambassadors”
- Using an online platform
Let’s take a look at each step in detail.
1. Communication (and More Communication)
Many people are nervous on their first day at a new job and eager to make a good impression. Communication is key.
As the employer, it’s your job to check in with new employees, especially during the remote onboarding steps, to see where they are and make sure they aren’t overwhelmed.
Communicate your expectations to new employees and explain the goals and objectives of the remote onboarding steps. Make sure you or a manager frequently check in with new employees to see how things are going.
You want to encourage open communication from the beginning. It will facilitate teamwork later.
Communicating Company Culture During Remote Onboarding
The process to remotely onboard employees should include an effort to communicate company culture. Include the following items in your cultural introduction:
- The office code of conduct
- Company norms, values, underlying assumptions, and expectations for interpersonal actions and treatment of others
- A description of the company’s history and short- and long-term goals, important milestones, and the mission statement
Sometimes a barrier to successfully remotely onboarding employees is their trouble understanding or adjusting to company culture.
2. Remote Workstations Must Be Ready
Access issues are common first-day problems. Having hardware and software ready for your new employees is one remote onboarding step everything else depends upon. Equipment is necessary for employees to do their jobs, and they are eager to begin on their first day.
Ensure the hardware arrives before your new employees start. If it arrives a few days before, your employees can prepare their workstation, so they are ready to go on day one.
Also, make sure to send all necessary hardware, including headsets, mice, and keyboards (anything they will need). Moreover, if your remote employees need a printer or you supply a second monitor, make sure it all arrives a day or two before they need it.
Ideally, your tech team should have already installed all of the needed software tools (including VPN access) on new computers for employees. It’s important to remember that new employees can’t just stop by the IT Department for help working remotely.
It’s important to include standard operating procedures and make sure new employees know who to contact if they have technical trouble.
3. Tailor the Remote Onboarding to New Employees
Another remote onboarding step that’s important is to tailor the onboarding to the individual employees. Each new person will have a specific role to play and will learn in their own way. One size doesn’t fit all; the process should be flexible.
When you begin remotely onboarding employees, set out clear goals and objectives so they know what’s expected. If your new employees don’t know what’s expected of them, it can be confusing and frustrating.
Also, make sure to appreciate new employees when they achieve remote onboarding benchmarks. Recognition and appreciation always go a long way with all of your employees.
Everyone learns differently. You want your new employees to be engaged but not overwhelmed. Some will acclimate faster, and you don’t want them to get bored with a slow pace.
Checking in with new employees frequently to assess how the remote onboarding is going is critical. Make adjustments to their onboarding plan as needed.
In the office, new hires are met with smiles and handshakes. When working remotely, their first contact is a glowing screen. Schedule virtual coffee breaks or lunches to help new employees get to know their teammates.
However, avoid putting your new employee on the spot. Making the lunch all about them and putting them in the spotlight makes some people uncomfortable, especially when they are still nervous about being new. Be inclusive and friendly but don’t push too hard.