7 Tips to Onboard Remote Workers
The majority of employers have now moved to a remote workforce for the time being as COVID-19 continues. That said there are a number of companies that were either midway through the hiring process, had already planned start dates for employees, or continue to recruit a remote workforce during the COVID-19 crisis. These new employees still need to be onboarded properly and given the support and resources necessary to succeed in their new roles.
Providing an exceptional employee onboarding experience can help to reduce turnover, increase engagement, productivity and performance. Just because they aren’t physically going to your office doesn’t mean that onboarding is any less important.
Here are 7 tips and considerations for onboarding new remote workers
1. Begin with a clear explanation of your onboarding process, information and expectations.
Never leave any gaps in communication and ensure that the hiring manager along with the new employee are both informed and have clear expectations about what the onboarding process will look like. Set a timeline with specific milestones that will be achieved during the onboarding process, what is expected of both parties, and communicate a clear understanding from both sides. This will ensure that both the employer and employee are aligned from the very beginning. The last thing you want is an employee to be unsure of what is happening and the next steps after accepting an offer. Especially during a time when insecurity is the norm, you don’t want them to jump ship for another potential opportunity and quit before they even begin.
2. Introductions and welcoming
Encourage team members to reach out to your new hire and express their excitement to have them join the team. Whether it’s through LinkedIn (you can send video messages or voice notes for a nice welcoming touch), email, or video conference software (Zoom), making them feel welcomed and a part of the team is very important, especially being remote. You don’t want them to feel alone in their new role and ensure they know the support system that is there to help them with and lend a hand in their onboarding.
3. Digitize your paperwork
It is a must for remote workers, especially during COVID-19 and self-isolation, to be able to fill out all of their paperwork online. Software like DocuSign and Signority allow organizations to manage electronic agreements and eSignatures. There are still companies that have not yet embraced this technology which results in employees physically not being able to get paperwork back to their employers for a quick and smooth onboarding process. Many people don’t have printers, faxes, scanners in their homes and don’t have access to places to use one during the pandemic. Don’t be a dinosaur and ensure that your organization is utilizing smart technology to adapt to a remote onboarding experience.
4. Equipment for home offices
There are a number of individuals that do not have a home office setup. They may not have needed one in the past. Even things like a desk and chair might be needed for someone to perform their job remotely in an ergonomic manner. Consider these needs of a new employee and make sure they are set up to perform and maximize their comfort and efficiency at home. Think about setting aside a budget for new remote workers to help them get set up in their homes. There are also the more obvious essentials to be able to work remotely, including a laptop. If their job requires the use of any software, consider installing everything before shipping it to ensure that all they have to do is open it up and turn it on. Not everyone is technically sound enough to be setting up the necessary tools and softwares on their own. Creating the easiest employee onboarding experience will go a long way – don’t have your new hires frustrated by their tech or have a delayed ability to contribute to the company on their first day.
Consider the role and what office supplies are a necessity that would normally be at the office. Things like calculators, folders, pens, paper, etc. All of these considerations should be accounted for and shipped to the employee prior to their first day as well.
5. Create and share your remote work policy
According to upwork.com 63% of businesses (pre-COVID-19) had remote workers yet only 43% of those businesses had a remote work policy in place. Our guess is that the number of companies with remote workers has increased drastically and the percentage of those with policies has drastically decreased since COVID-19. Some of the items that may be in your remote work policy might include: typical hours of operations and hours of availability, how they are expected to communicate with team members, how to be reimbursed for office expenses etc.
6. Create a positive employee experience on the first day
Most companies would usually take out new hires for lunch on their first day. Since remote workers don’t have that luxury, schedule a virtual coffee meeting with the team at some point during their first day. This will allow the new employee to connect on a more personal level outside of “work”, get to know one another, and get a feel for team dynamics.
In addition, schedule a meeting with their boss. Ensure that this meeting covers clear expectations and guidelines for the new employee and provides an overview of the company’s vision and goals. The management team is ultimately responsible for their success so it only makes sense to have a meeting on day 1. It is also important for remote workers to understand how to align their goals and ambitions with the company. Employees want to do meaningful work and contribute as quickly as possible.
7. After the first day
Onboarding needs to be a 3 month (or more) process to help a new hire feel acclimated and motivated to perform. It is essential, especially with remote workers, to have early and frequent two-way communication. Consider incorporating virtual executive coaching for executive-level remote workers as part of your onboarding process. Executive coaching is a rigorous learning process with the overall objective of acquiring, developing, and maintaining effective leadership skills and behaviours. Coaching is a positive process aimed at equipping individuals with the skills to emphasize their strengths and capitalize on their areas of development. The role of the coach is to ask the right questions to get the executive to think about how he or she can approach their job differently, and to exceed expectations for performance.
How you onboard a new employee can set the tone for how their experience will be with your company. The process you create needs to aim at engaging, retaining and achieving the peak performance of your new remote workers. Make sure you have a plan to receive and provide feedback to ensure you can optimize the process moving forward.