December 12, 2021
1. Create an onboarding timeline
2. Onboard several remote employees at once (if possible)
3. Actively plan for some social interaction
4. Give your new hire something to do
5. Check in and ask for feedback
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The first day in a new job is always exciting - and slightly overwhelming. Not only does your new employee meet most of their team members for the first time, they are also given a lot of information to digest, while learning to navigate their new surroundings.
If you take away the in-person aspect of onboarding, you quickly reduce the amount of information that needs to be processed - but you also lack social interaction and the new sense of community.
That’s why you should have a dedicated virtual onboarding process in place to ensure you make up for the missing experiences and make your new hire feel welcome and part of their new team.
Here are 5 tips on how to virtually onboard remote employees.
Onboarding is a process that is not done and over with after your new hire’s 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.
Creating a detailed onboarding timeline for your remote employees is a great way to make sure you got everything covered and present your new hire with the best possible virtual onboarding experience.
The timeline should not just focus on their individual milestones and goals, but can also be your personal checklist for what you need to do for the onboarding process. This includes setting up accounts, curating and shipping a welcome package, and sending out meeting invitations.
At the same time, make sure you schedule recurring catch ups with your new hire to check on their development, personal experiences, and their goals and objectives.
In the end, your timeline will probably range anything from one month before your new team member’s first day, to 12 months after their first day at work.
One of the biggest challenges for remote employees is the feeling of isolation due to being physically removed 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 check in and talk to who has the same experiences within the company as them.
This is not limited to the same team, either. Feel free to onboard someone from marketing with a new hire for the development team when providing generally relevant information. This allows the new employees to establish relationships outside of their new team and to form strong connections within the company as a whole.
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Another option to help reduce a sense of isolation for remote hires is to actively plan some social time with their team members. This can be a shared lunch, or just a 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 those 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.
Maybe have a chat with your team beforehand about reaching out to the new employee during their first week. Having a more planned approach to this helps stretch out the social interactions and not overload the new hire with one conversation after the other on their first day. 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. You don’t want to constantly bother your new teammates, but you also don’t want to just sit around and wait for work to come find you. This is even worse for remote employees who are basically left to check their email inbox or dedicated chat software to see if there is something for them to get involved in.
So, give them something to do. This might sound a bit silly, but it can really help make them feel more welcome and comfortable if they have a task to do. We are not talking about a massive reporting or huge creative assignment, but something small and achievable for their first couple of days.
Having an immediate responsibility takes the focus away from being the new kid on the block, and quickly integrates them into the team. You can expand this task over the following weeks as well, and make sure that some team collaboration is necessary to complete it, in order for the new employee to get to know their team members.
Checking in with your employees is part of successfully running a team - and it’s even more important when onboarding a new remote employee. Scheduling in some time to see how your new hire is feeling will help them feel valued and appreciated.
But creating a safe space to share experiences and feedback is also a great opportunity for you to see if your internal processes and workflows are working. 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 optimising your processes and inner workings within your team.
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