The recent pandemic gave businesses worldwide no choice but to move to a strictly online remote work system. Since then, many companies have decided to allow employees to continue working remotely.
Considering the introduction of remote work was (and is still) a drastic change for most businesses, learning to rethink some standard company procedures, particularly centered around accommodating new hires, comes as somewhat of an obstacle. Employee onboarding has always been a staple of the introductory employment procedure, and with some modifications, the process can be just as efficient online as in person.
Onboarding and Why it’s Important
Organizational socialization, also known as onboarding, is the process through which newly hired employees are introduced to the necessary knowledge and skills required to perform effectively in their position. It gives the employer the perfect opportunity to share almost everything the employee will need to be successful within the company.
During a traditional onboarding process, employers will inform new hires about the company’s vision, policies, expectations, and provide any necessary training. Additionally, they might introduce new hires to the team, show them around the office, and even give out company merch to help them feel welcome in their new workspace.
We all like to feel welcome in new spaces, and onboarding helps incoming employees integrate into their new workspace with a smoother and easier transition method. Giving employees the opportunity to become well acquainted with their new position allows them to achieve more and work more efficiently overall. Once they’ve completed their onboarding, they are better able to benefit their newly joined company.
How is Remote Onboarding Different?
Working from home can isolate an individual from their peers. Regardless of whether the employee is located just a few miles from the office or across the globe, they won’t have the same opportunity to build a connection with the rest of their team. Making the new hire feel valued, even from a distance, should be a goal for all employers working with remote employees.
With no direct face-to-face instruction, onboarding a remote employee requires additional preparations to streamline the process. These preparations could include having digital copies of important paperwork available, making sure there is access to any programs (website, shared folders, work management platforms, IT support etc.), or setting up necessary equipment that is needed for job function.
Finding a virtual solution for any potential roadblocks that may present themselves during the onboarding process is crucial to the success of both the employer and the employee.
Communication is key! Encouraging employees to reach out with any questions or concerns will not only help them feel comfortable seeking solutions, but also clear up any misconstrued information sooner rather than later.
Best Practices for Remote Onboarding
• Build a Connection Straight Away
Instead of an office tour to introduce teammates on the first day, opt for a digital group meeting! Find a time when any employees who will be working directly with the new hire can get together; allow them to introduce themselves via Skype/Zoom.
This is also a great opportunity to set the new hire up with a teammate who they can shadow and work one-on-one with to ensure they settle into their new role. Making room in this teammate’s schedule to ensure they are available for the new hire makes a huge impact on inclusion and success.
• Communicate Expectations
Giving the employee a clear image of expectations, responsibilities, and their role within the company will help clear up many of the questions he or she may have through the onboarding process.
To help them get started, it might be helpful to give them their own customized schedule that allows time for training, check-ins, and upcoming assignments. This will help them to better understand their responsibilities and to efficiently organize their time.
• Cultivate a Remote Onboarding Plan
Prepare your onboarding materials prior to your employee’s orientation day (or even before looking for new hires!). Construct a welcome email to send on the employee’s first day that will introduce them to your company and highlight what their first few weeks in the company will look like. It’s also smart to attach any documents to this email that will discuss the company’s payroll, benefits, tax, and insurance information.
Put together a document detailing the tools, software programs, logins, security information, and team members’ contact information for new hires to refer to as they begin their new position.
Prepare an orientation schedule that will be used with all new employees that includes meetings, training sessions, information sessions for new projects and assignments, as well as a list of tasks for onboarding conductors and managers.
• Allow Space and Time for Questions
Sometimes, new hires might not have questions initially, but as they dive into their new role, creating a process for a new hire’s potential questions is essential to maintaining a smooth, digital onboarding process. Consider creating a Google Form that allows employees to leave questions for management. A company-wide Slack discussion channel for employees might also be a great idea; this tool allows employees to ask questions when needed, and it also allows them to collaborate and resolve any assignment related issues.
Community-based options are always great to encourage workplace cooperation and teamwork, however, it is imperative that employees are always provided with one-on-one opportunities where they can discuss issues and questions in a more private setting. Whether it be in-person or online, onboarding is an essential part of the orientation and training process. Remote onboarding is still a new practice for many businesses, but through proper preparation and effective communication, companies can grow an efficient and well-balanced process that will lead their newly hired workers to amazing success.