It’s no secret that remote work has been increasing in popularity in recent years. Even before the pandemic, the number of remote workers between 2005 and 2019 increased by 159 percent, with millions of people working from home at least a few days per week.
And, of course, with the pandemic pushing millions of people and entire companies to work from home, remote work in some form or another continues to speed towards becoming the norm.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t struggles or obstacles in this process, though.
This includes the onboarding process. Onboarding remote employees is completely different than in-person onboarding and, thus, requires different protocols.
Great onboarding processes can improve employee retention by 82 percent and lead to happier employees. Without a great onboarding process, new hires are more likely to look for other job postings and opportunities, and it can hurt your employer branding.
All that being said, let’s look at some key practices we recommend for onboarding remote employees efficiently and effectively.
Focus on Structure and Communication
Unlike in the office where a new employee can tap someone on the shoulder for help, remote employees are stuck in front of their computer screen.
Without a clear schedule that outlines who they’re talking to, who’s calling them, who they need to call, what things should be set up first vs last, remote employees will feel lost and disconnected.
“The key to remote workforce management is clear and easy communication,” says recruitment marketing & customer engagement expert Ryan Affolter.
A clear and structured schedule communicates to employees exactly what to expect and gives them specific tasks to complete. And consider this: employees that have a structured onboarding process are 58 percent more likely to be with the company after three years.
The schedule should include role-specific training, communication & tech training, onboarding paperwork, meetings with coworkers & managers, and a timeline for when they should begin carrying out responsibilities.
New employees also need to understand how to use your communication tools. Some of these could include:
- Company email
- Company phone and/or web phone software
- Project management programs
- Video meeting and/or conferencing tool(s)
- Any messaging tools (Slack, G Chat, etc)
We recommend standardizing what communication tools you use throughout the company in order to keep all employees on the same platforms.
The key to remote workforce management is clear and easy communication
Provide Training to Managers, Too
Onboarding remote employees isn’t just a new process for the new hires — it’s increasingly a new experience for everyone involved in the hire! But don’t worry. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.
As a co-founder of an executive search firm told SHRM, “hiring and onboarding new employees completely virtually is a new concept for most employers.”
Provide training for managers and supervisors bringing on new employees. Managers should have their own schedule of what they need to do and when for their new hires. This could include:
- Creating an onboarding calendar of activities, trainings, and tasks
- Clearly define goals in both the short and the long term for employee and manager alike
- Outline one-on-one meetings the new hire should have with the team, management, etc
- Provide contact information for managers to utilize if they run into issues or problems with the process
Unlike in-person work, the team won’t “see” the new person around. Be sure to let your employees know about the new team member joining so they know what’s going on with the company and so they can provide a warm welcome.
Are your hiring managers asking for help with remote hiring & onboarding?
Jobiak’s technology makes hiring more efficient and successful than ever. Learn more here.
Tech & Tools Training
If an employee was coming in for their first day in a new office, you’d likely provide a computer, a mouse, cell phone, and other relevant tools & tech for their position.
For remote workers, you should be providing the tech they need to do their job. Especially with the importance of digital communication for remote workforces, providing high-quality tools & instruction is crucial.
This means planning ahead, sending the employee their new tech, and communicating with them to ensure it’s arrived. Also send your new hires any tech manuals and set-up protocols you have, including:
- Cloud system training
- File-sharing software/apps
- Password protocols & standards
- Tech security protocols
- Communication tech protocols
Provide new hires with contact information for your IT department or your operations manager so they can reach out for assistance and guidance if they need it.
Gen Z has some of the most technologically savvy and naturally digital workers the labor force has ever seen.
Learn more about Gen Z at work here.
Connecting to the Team & Culture
Onboarding means more than getting new hires to work. It also means getting them involved and connected to the entire organization!
Bring them up to speed your organization’s culture and people by providing them with employee handbooks and documents or presentations outlining your values & mission.
Small welcome packages and gifts are another great way to help your new hires feel like a real part of the organization. T-shirts, mugs, and pens are simple but powerful when it comes to feeling like a part of the group.
We’d also recommend The Buddy System. Connect a new hire to an experienced peer immediately so they can feel comfortable and connected in the organization. New hires might also be more willing to ask a fellow employee questions versus asking their new supervisor.
Have the buddies meet a couple of times per month to provide updates, check-ins, and guidance throughout the employee’s first few months. What’s more? One study showed that 87 percent of organizations say buddy programs increased new hire proficiency.
In a remote onboarding scenario, this could be something as simple as a quick daily check-in via video chat. It could also include a weekly virtual coffee meeting or e-lunch. What’s important — just as it is in-person — is to keep touchpoints regular, so new hires don’t feel alone.
Onboarding Remote Employees: Bottom Line
The main takeaway on onboarding remote employees is to keep things organized & structured with a focus on communication and tech.
Jobiak can also make the onboarding process a bit easier by helping you find candidates that are perfectly suited for your job opening. We do that with our AI-platform that optimizes and posts your jobs on one of the top platforms for job seekers: Google for Jobs.
Learn more about how our tech can make the entire hiring process, from job description to onboarding, easier and more efficient here.