Remote Onboarding: How to Onboard a New Hire Virtually?

MARYNA DEMCHENKO

Published: 02 Dec 2020

Building Virtual Teams

You probably have never thought that your team would be a virtual one. However, in light of the pandemic, the shift towards off-campus work is unstoppable. 

Remote Work in the U.S. Under COVID-19

image via news.gallup.com

According to Gallap research,

  • Nearly seven in 10 employees still working remotely all or part of the time
  • One in four remote workers want to return to workplace once restrictions are lifted

 

Thanks to the wealth of technologies bolstering the world of remote work, your team can still be productive from nine to five but stay at home. 

We have a long history of building remote teams for companies worldwide, so we know first-hand that it can be challenging to onboard new hires from afar. The primary concern is the engagement of a remote employee. The popular opinion is that virtual employees are less involved in the company's life than their in-house counterparts. That could be true if you have poor onboarding in place. 

Practicing a well-thought-out onboarding program, on the other hand, improves employee retention and helps new hires feel connected with the rest of the team and office. It will also help set them off to a good start in terms of workflow and teamwork. 

The biggest challenge of remote work is that new employees usually meet the team in person, which gives everyone the edge of in-person communication. Remote employees lack such possibility. The orientation is done through a videoconference, and there's rarely a possibility for on-site meetings. A good onboarding program helps align goals, train a new hire, and create a connection with the rest of the team. This article shall look at the best ways to set your new hires off to a good start. 

Here are some best practices to set your remote workers to a smooth start. 

Design a detail-rich onboarding plan 

Your onboarding plan needs to include the onboarding process, as well as the key milestones of the employee's career with an organization. In other words, it should give a clear idea of where the new hire stands in terms of their progress. If you had one in place during the pre-pandemic times, it's easy to adjust it for onboarding remote employees. Make sure every milestone has a timeframe. That will provide structure and help them be productive as they settle into the new workplace. It's also a good idea to add a section that walks an employee through your company's culture, policies, and key workflows. 

Prepare a virtual welcome pack

A welcome pack is essential for creating a bond between your new hire and your company. You can send it out in a digital form on their first day. 

What should it include? The information that will be useful for a new hire during their first weeks on the job. The welcome pack's essentials are colleagues and the team's contact information, such as names, phone numbers, and email addresses. It shouldn't include sensitive information like passwords. 

It's a good idea to craft a short informal video of your office and key employees. That is a great way to welcome the new hire to the team and create connections with the rest of the group.

Video is also an excellent learning tool. Try to use this super useful, either in pre-recorded or in real-time form. During onboarding, you can use video for a general welcome and question-answer sessions. 

Provide all the access they need, securely

Your remotees probably use business tools of all stripes. They need safe and secure access to those tools to stay self-reliant and start to bring value at the early steps. You can start by designing a guide to your internal tools and how they work. After that, you can transfer the matter of secure remote work to the IT department, who will advise on how to work securely outside the company's firewall. 

Read Also: Work from Home:The cost of Security

Is there an opportunity to onboard an entire group of new hires at once? 

Team onboarding can take a great deal of the pressure off employees and employers alike. It's a lot faster (and less stressful too) to get to know coworkers when they are together in one room instead of one-on-one meetings. 

Onboarding in groups helps fight the isolation feeling that often comes with remote work. An alternative to group onboarding is inviting new comes who are three and fewer months with the company. 

That way, you create a ground for establishing strong connections between new employees and people from other departments if they haven't had a chance to be introduced to each other. It also promotes a sense of team unity, especially for geographically dispersed teams that rarely meet in person. 

Make regular online meetings

New employee check-ins are important because they give you the opportunity to monitor the onboarding process and make sure they are on the right track. You can check milestones from the onboarding program against the employee's real progress and address the shortcomings or bottlenecks they might have faced. 

It's also important to offer feedback regularly and tweak the plan to rectify any possible flaws. Include checking in sessions with new employees on your agenda, which is as simple as sending an email but far more effective thanks to the possibility of eye contact.

Build a remote-friendly company culture

Remote teams come with challenges, creating a unified company culture being one of them. Here are several essential elements that constitute an ideal remote company culture.

  • Trust 

The focus on trust is what enables remote work. It makes little sense to create a remote team if you don't trust the employees. It won't work. However, trust takes a great deal of honesty and courage to share, ask questions, admit mistakes, and learn from other team members. 

  • Learn their interests

What your remotees do outside of work? Get a chance to learn about their ways of spending free time, hobbies, and other interests. It's a surefire way to foster connections and start a conversation among team members. That brings us to the next point.

  • Mind the human side

When you only contact a remote employee for work-related matters, there's a risk of misunderstanding due to lacking informal touchpoints that help you emphasize. Thus, it's best to combine fun and informal interactions with team members to solidify connections with them. And that's what the remote culture is for. 

  • Promote quality communication

Learn the possibilities of Slack or communication tools of your choosing to develop an ideal environment for communication. Check out its features and figure out which of them can be applied to enhance your conversations. 

  • Be clear about goals and expectations

It's crucial to articulate your objectives and goals and reiterate them regularly. Make the most of communication tools to present and pin your viewpoints. Make sure your employees can comment on them and find them quickly when needed. 

Afterword

We have been in the business of building remote teams for a long time (over a decade now), so we can say that running one comes with challenges. It does take some prowess to engage remote employees and build a culture. However, our clients' cases show that it's possible to run a remote team and reap exceptional results. We could help you create a team like that in Ukraine. Let's talk?  

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