The onboarding process marks the beginning of an employee’s journey at an organization. In order to create a positive employee experience right from the beginning, the onboarding should be smooth and well-managed.
Making sure the new hires have all the information and support they need to settle into their new position is always a challenge, but even more so when managing a remote onboarding process.
Onboarding remote employees requires careful planning and preparation. But how can businesses create a seamless remote onboarding process and manage it successfully for every new hire?
Onboarding describes the process through which an organization integrates new hires into the team and their internal workflows. Remote onboarding (sometimes also referred to as virtual onboarding) is the same process, but conducted remotely.
In other words, instead of welcoming the new employee in person at the office for their first day of work, showing them around, introducing them to their new colleagues, and setting them up with a monitor and all the documentation and access codes they need to get started, the entire process takes place virtually.
Onboarding remote employees is more difficult and challenging than traditional in-office onboarding. This is due to several factors:
Lack of face-to-face interaction: Being greeted by a group of colleagues with reassuring smiles on their faces at the office on the first day of work immediately makes a new teammate feel welcome. Without human interaction, it’s a lot more difficult to create the same feeling.
Difficulties with equipment and tools: Not all employees are tech-savvy, and it’s not unusual for new team members to struggle with their new equipment, tools or any other technology they need for their work. Overcoming these issues is a lot more difficult if other team members are not around to help out.
Overwhelming input: Starting a new position always involves having to process a lot of information and input regarding workflows, people, processes, and more. When onboarding remote employees, all the information is usually provided to them in writing, which can make it even harder to take it all in.
Connection with new colleagues: Meeting the rest of the team is a fixed part of any onboarding process. When onboarding employees remotely, this can be challenging, since all the team members are in different locations—and maybe even different time zones.
In order to overcome the challenges of remote onboarding, organizations need to establish a smooth remote onboarding process. Here are five steps to follow.
Onboarding is a process that is not done and over with after the new hires have had their first official day. In fact, it starts way before that date, and continues on past those first few weeks of them finding their foot within your team. That’s why the first step towards creating a seamless remote onboarding process is to establish an onboarding timeline that ensures that new joiners have the best virtual onboarding experience possible.
The timeline should not just focus on their individual milestones and goals, but can also serve as a checklist for the organization that provides an overview of what needs to be done and when. This includes setting up accounts, curating and shipping a welcome package, sending out meeting invitations, and more.
There should also be regular catch-up meetings with the new hire to check on their development, personal experience, and their goals and objectives. In the end, the timeline will probably cover a period ranging anywhere from one month before to 12 months after the new teammate’s first day at work.
One of the biggest challenges for remote employees is the feeling of isolation due to being physically separated from their team members. Creating a sense of community is therefore one the most crucial aspects when onboarding remote team members.
A great way to achieve this is by onboarding several remote employees at the same time. This allows them to immediately form a bond with one another and have someone to talk to who is in a similar situation as they are.
They don’t even have to be working on the same team. Regardless of whether they are part of the marketing, sales or development team, they can go through the general onboarding together. Like this, they not only feel less isolated, but can also establish relationships outside of their new team.
Another option to help remote hires overcome the feeling of isolation is to actively schedule some social time with their teammates. This can be a shared virtual lunch, or just a virtual 10-minute coffee break in the afternoon to have a chat and get to know each other.
This form of virtual social interaction is especially crucial in the first couple of days and weeks when a new member joins the team and might be struggling to create meaningful connections with their colleagues when not in the office.
Ideally, the rest of the team should be in the loop and schedule an individual get-together with their new colleague. Like this, there will be several social interactions over the course of the first days/weeks, and the new team member will not be overwhelmed by meeting everyone at once and potentially feel left out if the team is chatting away. Having a chat with one new colleague a day might be just the right amount of social time.
Nothing is worse than starting a new job and not knowing what to do. Sitting around waiting for work is boring, but new joiners also don’t want to constantly bother their teammates. For remote employees, having nothing to do when starting a new position is even worse, since this leaves them constantly checking their inbox and other communication channels to see if there is something for them to get involved in.
Making sure new hires have work to do might sound a bit silly, but it is definitely part of a successful remote onboarding process, since it makes them feel needed, welcome and, above all, more comfortable. Of course, the first task given to them should not be a massive reporting or huge creative assignment, but something small and achievable to keep them busy for the first couple of days.
Having an immediate responsibility takes the focus away from being the newbie on the team, and helps them to quickly become a part of the team. Ideally, the remote onboarding process should be organized in a way that new hires mostly receive tasks that involve at least some collaboration with other team members during the first couple of weeks.
Regularly checking in with employees is part of successful team management—and it’s even more important when onboarding remote employees. Making time to see how new hires are doing will help them feel valued and appreciated.
But creating a safe space to share their experiences and feedback is also a great opportunity for the organization to see if the internal processes and workflows need to be improved. Coming in as an outsider, new employees are often able to identify missing links in a workflow or the lack of shared information early on, so getting their feedback is extremely valuable for improving and optimizing the remote onboarding process.
The Lano Academy is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Lano Software GmbH disclaims any liability for any actions you take or refrain from taking based on the content contained in this article.
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