new hire using his laptop to complete the remote onboarding process for a new job

The onboarding process for remote workers has become a regular occurrence in today’s world and will only become more of a regular task as time goes on. The transition from in-person office tours to virtual meet-and-greets create numerous challenges for all workplaces, forcing everyone to adopt their own process. Remote onboarding has brought along numerous challenges for both new remote hires and companies that will change the impact of an onboarded employee for years to come.

There are many positive ways to make sure the remote onboarding process goes smoothly with the least amount of stress for all parties involved. To attain the best onboarding practices, there are a few things that a company should do to make the process easier and more convenient for both the new hire and the company as a whole.

What is remote onboarding?

Onboarding is defined as integrating new employees and getting them situated with the company. Onboarding also sets  expectations between new hires and managers where company policies are presented. Good onboarding has been proven to help boost new hires’ engagement and retention.

Remote onboarding is going to look different compared to onboarding in person. Similar processes are put in place to successfully onboard a new hire with tools such as video calls, virtual presentations, instant chat messaging systems, and email. Since remote work has become the norm, remote onboarding has been improved to give new hires a similar experience with working in-person. Of course, being online is not the same as coming into an office or workplace, but remote onboarding can still be effective.

The main idea  is to establish a relationship with the new employees. This is vital for them to feel welcomed and appreciated whether they are working from home, coming into the office, or doing a combination of both. New employees should feel that they are being put into a positive work environment and feel supported by the hiring manager during the onboarding process. It is the job of the manager to ensure that employees feel welcome and are provided with the resources they need as they are still new to the company. Onboarding is important since the employee is embarking on a new journey at a new company; especially if they are a remote worker. Setting the foundation for open and clear communication in the workplace ecosystem will allow the team to prosper in the future.

The Remote Onboarding Process

Preboarding:

Before a new remote employee starts their first day, you should begin the onboarding process. This “preboarding” will allow for time to get administrative tasks/paperwork completed. Create an onboarding check list of all required documents, equipment, and gear that are needed to be ready for the first day. The more that can be prepared ahead of time to be ready before the start date, the better time you will have to get your new employees accustomed to their new job. Be sure to communicate with the new hires and send them the documents well in advance of the start date. This ensures that they can get all of the paperwork done and sent back to the hiring manager.

Orientation:

Moving away from the in-office tours and in-person introductions can be daunting, but remote orientation can be just as successful if good practices are put in place. For the orientation to be successful, your new employees should be able to understand the overview of their roles, the company policies, and have time to meet their fellow team members. To do this successfully, plan as many informal groups and/or individual virtual calls to welcome the new hires and meet the different teams. These calls will give the new hires a chance to ask questions about other teams and their roles, and also allows existing team members to get to know the new hires. As the hiring manager, it is important to guide these new relationships between the new hires and existing team members to make the transition smoother. It also helps for when questions need to be asked later, as there is a preestablished relationship developed between the new hire and seasoned co-workers.

Best Tips for Remote Onboarding

There are plenty of ways to improve on your remote onboarding process. Here are some tips to make your new hires feel eager for their new role and ways to prevent them from feeling overwhelmed:

Help Them Get to Know Co-Workers:

With the initial overview of the company, there should also be some onboarding activities so that new hires can start to establish relationships with each other and coworkers. This is exceptionally critical for remote employees as you want them to integrate into the team as smoothly as possible. Some ideas to help with this process can be icebreakers to ease everyone in. It does not need to be anything fancy, but it’s something that can set you apart from other companies. For an example, including a fun fact with each introduction is a great way for people to get to know each other. Fun facts set individuals apart from one another and can start great conversations and relationships.

Take Things Slow:

Onboarding does not stop after the first day or even the first week. It takes time to get acclimated in a new environment, especially if your new hire is remote. In the first few weeks of onboarding new employees, meet with them consistently and schedule meetings for any questions they might have at the end of days (especially ones filled with training). Throughout these regular check-ins, make sure to review the important base knowledge and company policies along with going over first assignments, making sure they stay on the right track and offering useful tips or suggestions if needed.

Encourage Them:

Starting a new job can be overwhelming and scary. Making sure that you are available for any questions new hires may have and validating those feelings of being overwhelmed can help them a lot. Encourage them that it gets easier as time goes on and remind them that they will get used to the ways things are done. If your new hires are recent college graduates, show them some extra attention as this may be the first time they are working a job with more responsibility, let alone a new job that is remote.

What are the challenges with remote onboarding?

Challenges will arise with remote onboarding just like the rest of remote work. These problems will mainly fall under two umbrellas: interpersonal and technology. If you prepare and carefully plan your onboarding procedure, these problems can be reduced. If they do arise, they can be seen as a learning opportunity to change for the future.

Interpersonal Challenges:

Formulating a relationship with remote workers is critical. The relationship structure will be different as communication will have to differentiate from the normal face-to-face communication. With some individuals who only have a few meetings, it’s important that communication issues do not arise. The last thing that you want from a new onboarded employees is to have them feel isolated in their new environment due to the lack of communication. This can be solved with managers discussing the expectations on communication and encouraging it with all employees. This could range from being open to messages during all work hours or certain hours. Check-ins to assess needs and production can also allow for better communication.

Technology Challenges:

The reliance of technology becomes greater with remote work and those problems can continue with remote onboarding. A technical problem during onboarding can halt the entire process until the problem is solved. A step that can be taken is to make sure any important documents and/or login credentials are moved to secure locations once they are acquired. This can be taken a step further by then asking the new hire to have an offline format of the information.

As new hires come on board, they will be exposed to new programs that they have yet to work with, especially if they are new to the workforce or industry. An onboarding tip that can be used to prevent this is prerecorded videos. These videos would be simple tutorials for using different tools that the company would be using on a day-to-day basis. Encourage new hires to reference these videos if they get confused or need a refresh. 

To avoid any technical issues with your computer during the onboard process, make sure that the battery is fully charged, all your devices like headphones, headsets, and your mouse all work properly so that there is no delaying when it comes to orientation and presentations.

Remote Onboarding Best Practices

The tips for remote onboarding that have been listed above are to help make the process more efficient for you and any future new hires. The goal is to make the process as easy as possible for both parties involved. Onboarding, whether it’s remote or in person, is about establishing the communication and support between the team and new hire.

Apty. The Ultimate Guide to Master Remote Onboarding. (https://www.apty.io/blog/remote-onboarding) August 16, 2022.

Factorial Blog. Remote Onboarding: A Step-by-Step Guide. (https://factorialhr.com/blog/remote-onboarding) August 16, 2022.

Remote. Onboarding remote employees: processes, tactics, and advice from experts. (https://remote.com/blog/onboarding-remote-employees-tips) August 16, 2022.

Unito. Remote Onboarding: How to Welcome New Remote Workers. (https://unito.io/blog/remote-onboarding) August 17, 2022.

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