For years, employees and companies lived under a remote workforce prophecy. Everyone knew it was coming and that remote work would one day be not the exception, but the norm. What most people didn’t realize was that it would take an Earth-shattering catalyst to make it happen on fast-forward.
And there came in 2020, the year that made pretty much every workplace strategy seem obsolete. With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, remote workforce gained new powers -- and with it, remote onboarding had to re-adjust as well. Before the pandemic, only 17% of Americans worked remotely for more than five days a week. After the outbreak, that number skyrocketed to 44%.
Needless to say, the remote and hybrid work situation has become the status-quo in most office-based businesses. That means there’s no real way to avoid having to implement remote and hybrid work strategies that make everyone more productive.
For example, what are some of the most important employee onboarding tips and tricks for your remote workforce?
Read on and find out more.
Why Having a Good Remote Onboarding Strategy Is Important
If you’re about to hire remote employees, you should know that the process of onboarding them is slightly different than for those who work in-house (or at least those who were onboarded in-house in a pre-pandemic world).
As a business owner, you want to make sure that your company's remote workforce gets the necessary guidance and support from Day One. There is a long list of reasons that make a steady remote onboarding strategy essential:
- Helps create a framework for the first few months of the employee’s tenure.
- Prevents unnecessary confusion.
- Helps the employee get up to speed faster.
- Improves overall performance, both of the remote worker and of your business.
- Provides a more concrete foundation for mentorship.
- Helps avoid some onboarding mishaps that may disrupt the team’s productivity, like when crucial information is buried too deep in your company’s knowledge base (and no one bothers to look it up).
- Helps the new employee get off on the right foot.
- Creates a good employee and workplace experience from their first day in your company.
- Saves time and effort for all parties involved.
- Helps ensure success for all parties involved.
- Shows new employees and current employees that you really do care about employee well-being.
All in all, the way you onboard new people in your company says a lot about your company culture. Regardless of whether you are full-remote or providing your team with workplace flexibility in a hybrid system, it is crucial to make sure all new employees are moved through a clean, proper, and efficient onboarding process that allows them to jump to action as soon as possible.
Employee Onboarding Tips and Tricks for Your Remote Workforce
Remote onboarding might seem close to impossible if you're not used to it. But if you take a closer look at it you will realize that, in essence, it's not that much different from "in office onboarding".
Here are some tips to help you adapt your onboarding process to a remote and/or hybrid workplace:
Start Very Early and Get the New Employee Online Quickly
Even if your new employee is going to be working from home, it's a good idea to have a remote onboarding period. This can be as short as a few hours up to a whole week, but the important part is getting the new employee online as soon as possible. Don't let the employee wander through pixels for days before they are onboarded -- start on Day One, Minute One.
Make Sure the New Employee Can Get Online Quickly
The new employee should be given access to some basic communication tools, such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, email, and video conferencing tools. This will help both you and your new hire get some cooperation from each other right from the start, and better understand each other's communication preferences.
Assign Them an Onboarding Buddy
Even if you are an all-remote company, it is a great idea to assign your new hire a buddy during their first few days on the job. The buddy can help them get used to the tools and teach them the tricks of the trade, as well as introduce them to company culture.
Having an onboarding buddy also helps with some initial interactions and communication -- remember that some employees may not be as comfortable with video conferencing as others, so don't force the new hire to jump into it if they don't feel comfortable doing so.
Provide Them With Company Documentation
If you are an all-remote company, it's important to spend some time making sure your new employees have access to everything they need in order to get up to speed. This might include meeting minutes, employee handbooks, internal videos, and other materials that are relevant to the new hire.
Provide Them with Helpful Guidance
Everyone is different in how they learn best, so if you are an all-remote company take time during your onboarding process to build a helpful guide that will help your new hires get up to speed quickly. You can use this guide in both in-person meetings and video conferencing calls in order for your new hire to get the most out of their experience in your company.
Help the New Employee Feel Like They Belong (Even before Their First Day)
If your new hire is not in-office yet, you can still help them feel like they belong in your company. For example, you can send them a "Welcome Package" that includes branded materials, a handwritten card, and other small trinkets that make them feel like they are part of the "family".
Make Sure Their Tech Is in Place Before Their First Day Too
If your company is remote, make sure that your new hire is ready to use the tools that you provide them as soon as possible. This might include configuring desktop and laptop computers to connect to an internet connection -- but also meeting their video conferencing and collaboration needs without any drama.
Allow Them To Make Adjustments Before The First Day Too
Whether the new employees are employees who live remotely or those who prefer working from an office, it's a good idea to allow them the freedom of making adjustments before their first day on the job has started. If your company runs on a hybrid workplace system, share your office and meeting room booking details with them before their first day so they can make arrangements in due time.
Set Up Formal and Informal Interactions with the Entire Team
Even if your new hire is going to be remote, don't forget about getting the team together before the new hire is in-office. For example, you can set up a video conference call with the team before the new hire's first day when you are all at your desks. This will help them feel more included from day one when they finally meet everyone in person.
Share Your Onboarding Plan with Them
If your company is remote, you should let new hires know about their onboarding plan. This can be as simple as a one-page document that shows them the overall process they will be going through.
Focus on Personal Development from the Very Beginning
It's important to remember that the way you onboard new employees into your company is just as important as their actual work experience. For example, if you provide your team with job-sharing opportunities, it's a good idea to spend some time during their onboarding process meeting with their co-workers and helping them become familiar with the job-sharing program.
Encourage Collaboration, Networking, and Collaborative Learning
While working remotely with an all-remote workforce might seem like a challenge, it's also an opportunity to take advantage of, as it can promote an atmosphere where all employees (even those from different teams) network and collaborate directly.
Help the New Employee Understand How Important They Are for Your Goals
Everyone looks for a sense of purpose in their work, so making new employees feel like they are part of your business' story is essential.
Be Consistent About Your Onboarding Process
It's also important to be consistent about your onboarding process so that all new hires are treated the same way.
Onboarding new employees when working remotely or in a hybrid system does not have to be a painful experience for either of the sides involved in the process. It can be a smooth introduction into your company -- one that sets both you and the new team member up for success from their very first day. Having a clear, consistent plan in place and pairing it with the right technology and tools will always win new hires on your side (even before they get to dive into your company culture).
What about you? What else would you do to make sure remote onboarding is an excellent experience for both you and your new employees?