Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work started to become more popular. And even now when the pandemic is in a controlled stage in many countries, more and more businesses and workers are moving towards this new normal of working from home. According to Forbes, 74% of professionals believe remote work would become the new normal. 76% of business owners agree with this viewpoint, indicating that coworking spaces as well as traditional office facilities face tremendous challenges.
When it comes to the virtual onboarding process, it can be quite challenging for both remote workers and remote companies. Remote workers can't just drop by the office for a meeting, and you can't always instantly update them on everything going on at work. However, you can make the remote onboarding process simple for the employee and your team with a little extra work.
What is remote onboarding?
Employee onboarding refers to a sequence of activities that help new employees get to know their team and learn about the company's values, practices, traditions, and tools. In the onboarding process for remote employees, the same approach is followed when hiring a new employee who will work remotely.
A remote onboarding program offers an opportunity for employees to adjust to a new workplace. An employer might take advantage of this opportunity to explain all the factors that will make new team members more productive as they get to know their responsibilities inside the organization.
Both formal and informal remote onboarding options are available (and usually, companies use both approaches so the new teammate becomes comfortable).
Formal remote onboarding
Informal remote onboarding
A sequence of workshops, training sessions, video calls, and activities often make up formal onboarding.
The informal remote onboarding process for remote employees can be more ad hoc and involve shadowing members on the team, getting to know different stakeholders, learning about corporate customs and methods of problem-solving through observation, and spontaneous coaching sessions with the new hire's manager.
What is an onboarding session?
An onboarding session is a sequence of activities that take place over a long period and are often designed for a particular position.
Depending on the complexity of the new hire's function, the maturity of the organization, and many other factors, this time may take a few weeks to more than three months. Some remote businesses opt to employ a structure that enables new hires to complete their training in just two weeks. On the other side, some experts argue that making the onboarding period as long as a year may increase employee retention and make new remote hires feel like valuable members of the team.
Who’s involved in remote onboarding sessions?
1. Hiring supervisor
The recruiting supervisor's main duty is to oversee the remote onboarding process. The recruiting manager must take the initiative and be actively involved in assisting the employee's seamless integration into the company. The supervisor's duty is to:
- Communicate regularly with the new employee.
- Encourage a seamless transfer by using helpful tools and resources, such as a remote onboarding Checklist/PDF.
- To ensure competence in work activities and organizational standards, provide a department-specific comprehensive training plan.
- Set up clear guidelines, expectations, coaching, and performance reviews.
- Establish a connection between the new employee and important company knowledge, assets, and personnel.
2. Human resources
The preparation of formal documentation pertaining to pay and benefits, wellness, regulations, and policies, as well as the paperwork associated with new hires, is overseen or made easier by human resources. To facilitate the onboarding process, they can also oversee recruit’s orientation sessions and other resources.
The use of techniques and tools for the successful remote onboarding of new hires is monitored by managers. Managers ought to be friendly, patient, and willing to answer queries from fresh hires.
4. Executive management
New hires are given information about the organization's goal and vision by department executives. Executives set an example and make it clear what they expect out of the onboarding procedures.
How to prepare for onboarding remote employees
1. Providing a dedicated virtual onboarding space
Create a specified area if you can for their virtual onboarding process. Your new remote employees now have a single location where they can go and obtain all the information they want. It might be as simple as a folder on the shared drive at your firm or an intranet website with links to all the necessary information.
Having a designated area also makes it simple for you to monitor the development of your new employee. It's easy to see what they've read and what has to be addressed yet.
It could be a good idea to think about technologies to aid with this process as your firm expands.
2. Make the basics available
Make sure your new remote hire has everything they need to perform their job before they start. A computer, internet connectivity, a business email address, and any required software or programs are included in this. If you can, mail these products to them ahead of time so they have all they need from their first day.
Let's say you are developing a variety of internet marketing solutions. Making a list of suggested tools for your new employee that could be beneficial for him would be a great help.
Make sure their accounts are already set up in advance and they will have access from the start if you're using a project management platform.
3. Getting everyone on the same page
For many people, working from home or remotely can be a completely new experience. Making sure everyone is aware of their responsibilities during the remote onboarding process is the first step. What details are they in need of? Who are they scheduled to meet with? What resources are necessary for their success? Getting everyone on the same page from the start can help you prevent confusion and frustration in the future.
Setting communication expectations now is also a good idea. Are you going to use video conferencing, email, Slack, or a combination of all three? Inform your new employee of your preferred communication method and the best approach to get in touch with you.
4. Introduce them
Feeling like a team member when working remotely might be difficult. Take some time to introduce your new employee to everyone on the team. Organize frequent online happy hours or coffee chats so that they can know one another in a more informal setting.
5. Give them a virtual tour
If your business has a physical location, offer your new hire a virtual tour so they can see how the office is and where their team members are located. You may still show them around your company's website, intranet, or social media platforms if you don't have an office.
6. Assign a buddy
Assigning a buddy to your new employee is one method to make them feel welcome. Your new employee's buddy should be an experienced employee who is familiar with the business. They can respond to your new hire's inquiries and aid with their adjustment to their new position.
7. Provide them with training and resources
Give your new employee all the training opportunities and tools they need as part of the remote onboarding program for them to succeed in their position. This might contain a summary of the goods or services offered by your business, instructions on how to utilize certain software or equipment, or even simply a general introduction to your business.
You can ensure their success by giving them everything they need to get started quickly and ensuring that both you and the new hire(s) are on the same page after their remote onboarding plan is finished.
8. Scheduling regular check-ins
It is simple for remote workers to feel out of sight and out of mind when working remotely. Plan frequent check-ins with your new employee to prevent this. This provides you the ability to check in on them, respond to any inquiries they may have, and provide input on their development.
Check-ins also provide your new employee a chance to voice any issues they might be experiencing. You can make them feel more at ease in their position and avoid any possible issues down the line by addressing these upfront.
9. Celebrate their success
Celebrating your remote employees is one of the best practices for onboarding remote employees. Celebrate both your new hire's major accomplishments and minor ones. This can involve achieving their monthly sales goal or finishing their training course. When you acknowledge their accomplishments, they will feel valued and inspired to keep up the good job.
10. Give them the space to grow
Finally, keep in mind that your new employee is still acquiring knowledge and assuming more responsibility. It's acceptable if they make a few errors along the way. You must allow them room to develop and learn.
Encourage them to experiment, ask questions, and take chances. They will feel better integrated within the team and more effective in their work as a result of this.
Different phases of remote onboarding
Phase 1- Pre-onboarding
- Send a pre-boarding message/kit
- Ask for their feedback on the hiring process
- Start with admin tasks such as:
- Activating company accounts (email, Slack, and other collaboration/productivity tools)
- Verifying employee information for your company directory
- Entering employee information into payroll software
- Completing necessary government employment documents (forms must be signed within three days of your employee's start date)
- Clarify the remote onboarding schedule and send them calendar invites
- Let them explore your learning platform
- Make a personalized intro
- Spread the information for a team-wide welcome
Phase 2- Orientation
Orientation is a single occasion. Its objective is to formally welcome a group of recent hires to the firm while often providing a forum for them to become familiar with its vision, mission, culture, and history. It may also have a portion where recruits must complete the necessary documentation, learn about the perks offered by the business, and understand the codes of behavior and safety regulations.
Phase 3- First Assignments
During this phase, the new remote employee is given an assignment that he needs to complete within the specified timeline. This assignment judges his knowledge, and strengths and also brings to light the areas where your new employee needs to work hard on.
Phase 4- Ongoing support
Things don't end with the end of training. Even after the successful completion of their training, your new employees may have many issues. Therefore, providing them with continuous support is highly essential.
Five simple and effective tips for successfully onboarding remote employees
1. Be proactive
The best tip for onboarding remote employees is to be proactive in your thoughts and actions. Don't wait for your new hires to initiate the remote onboarding process. Be proactive and make sure to extend a warm welcome to them even before their first day of work.
Before recruits join for work, send them a well-written onboarding email. This provides them with a thorough understanding of the culture, personnel, and values of your business. Similarly, you might add significant instructions, rules, and guidelines to follow at work in your email. Additionally, it should also respond to some of your new hires' inquiries, easing their initial sense of confusion.
2. Use the right technology for onboarding remotely
Businesses that employ remote workers must embrace digital transformation in all facets of their operations. Businesses are using technology, such as facility management software, to digitize their processes, from controlling their sales to managing their human resources and facilities.
The same goes for the virtual onboarding process. To make it work, you need the appropriate onboarding application. This would include digitizing necessary records and procedures so that your remote workers could access them.
For onboarding remotely, you may utilize a variety of software options. HR software, for instance, may assist in streamlining your hiring procedure, including the onboarding of remote employees. It offers a centralized platform for scheduling, report generation, workflow automation, data and analytics, and data collection.
Other technologies to think about include application tracking systems, help desk software, video conferencing tools, e-signing tools, and more.
3. Personalized remote onboarding
The ability to tailor the remote onboarding process for each of your new employees is one advantage of virtual onboarding. This guarantees that everyone is treated equally regardless of their circumstances.
Allowing cross-platform virtual experiences is one way to do this. Your recruits won't be concerned about equipment requirements during onboarding this way. Asynchronous options can also be offered, allowing them to follow the procedure at their own pace.
4. Share important documents and information
The onboarding process for remote employees is dynamic. Your recruits can't be expected to learn everything about the organization in one sitting. As a result, they must constantly have access to crucial records and data about the company.
Make a database with all the files required for onboarding. It could consist of organizational structure, firm policies, and training materials. Additionally, you may include a checklist for onboarding remote workers that they can use as a reference. This guarantees that they follow each step properly.
5. Keep improving
It may take some time to get your onboarding procedure just right. Along the process, you could make some mistakes, but what matters is that you grow from them. Additionally, you may enhance your onboarding procedure going forward by applying these lessons learned.
So continue to keep an eye on your virtual onboarding process and assess its success. To identify the strengths and limitations of your present systems, gather and analyze the input from your recruit. This might assist you in developing original ideas to improve staff onboarding.