In simple terms, onboarding is the process of integrating a new employee into an organization and its culture, but the reality is there’s a lot that goes into it. In a traditional office setting, onboarding is more of a straightforward process. The new employee shows up on their first day, gets a tour of the office, receives an employee welcome kit, meets their team members, and gets started with their work. But when it comes to remote work, onboarding will need to shapeshift accordingly, and we’re here to help with that.
A solid onboarding process can help your new hires feel welcome, comfortable, and confident in their new roles. For remote teams, this is especially important because it can be challenging to build relationships and feel connected when you’re not physically in the same space as your colleagues.
So, how do you onboard remote team members effectively? Here are some best practices, tips, and more.
When bringing on a new remote employee, it's important to have a well-organized and well-defined onboarding process that includes specific goals and objectives. Creating a detailed plan that outlines the necessary tasks, timelines, and activities for the new employee's first week is a step you absolutely shouldn’t overlook.
The plan should include everything from company policies and completing required paperwork, to receiving job-specific training and being introduced to the rest of the team. Having clear expectations and a structured plan helps to ensure that nothing is missed and that your new employee has all the resources and information they need to start off on the right foot.
As a part of the planning process, you can even draft a checklist to send to them on their first day. This can help them stay on track and ensure they’re completing everything they need to do.
Onboarding is a process that should start before the first day of work. As soon as a candidate employee accepts the job offer, it's essential to begin the onboarding process. Get started by sending a welcome email that provides information on what to expect on the first day of work.
It's also a good idea to get the standard administrative tasks out of the way early on. Sending the new employee their login credentials and HR documents ahead of time allows them to complete these tasks before their official start date. This helps to ensure that they can focus on joining video calls, attending trainings, and getting familiar with their new life on the first day instead of spending unnecessary time on administrative tasks.
Send over a welcome package
Who doesn’t love a nice gift box? Putting together a welcome package with company swag, a welcome note from the CEO, helpful resources, and anything else that can help your new hire get familiar with the company is a great way to make them feel valued and appreciated.
Get as creative as you like with this: add an online gift card, a compact laptop stand, noise-canceling earbuds, or any cool gifts and gadgets that support the lifestyle of working remotely.
Kicking things off by having an employee welcome kit delivered to your new hires can go a long way in making a new employee feel like they're part of the team from the get-go.
Want some cool ideas to create a kickass employee welcome kit? Check out our blog post for some inspo!
Hold a virtual intro meeting
It's important to schedule a virtual introduction meeting between the new employee and their hiring manager on their first day. This meeting allows them to get to know each other and discuss the employee's role while setting clear expectations. This discussion should clarify what the employee needs to do to succeed—in the near-term and long-term—and how they can best contribute to the team, including everything from working hours and communication expectations to job responsibilities and performance goals. The meeting can also include a brief overview of the company culture and any other important information the employee needs to know.
End the call by creating space for the employee to ask questions and check in with them afterwards to help build excitement and ensure that they feel valued.
Assign a virtual buddy or mentor
Starting a new job can be a little overwhelming, especially when it’s a remote setting and your new hire is physically on their own. One way to prevent them from feeling “in the dark” is to assign a virtual buddy or mentor that can help them feel more comfortable and confident in their new role.
The buddy can be someone who has been with the company for a while and can provide guidance and support as your new hire gets up to speed. The buddy should make plenty of room for any calls, questions, or just a fun chat to get the new hire warmed up.
Use video conferencing to help build relationships
Building relationships might be a little challenging when you’re not physically together, but it’s definitely not impossible!
Introduce your new hire to the rest of the team by scheduling an introduction call with the whole team or welcoming the new joiner with an announcement during your next all-hands meeting. You can also schedule one-on-one calls with key team members they’ll be working with closely.
Down the line, you can help all team members consistently build relationships and strengthen their bonds by hosting virtual team-building activities. Think virtual game nights, happy hours, or even group workouts.
Video conferencing is a great way to build relationships with remote team members. It allows you to see each other's facial expressions and body language, create memories together, and engage in conversations that don’t involve work.
Use video conferencing for trainings
If it wasn’t obvious already, when you’re working remotely, video conferencing software becomes your best friend. Use it to conduct training sessions with your new hires, so they can learn the ropes and get up to speed on the company’s policies and procedures.
Video-based training is also the perfect channel for answering any questions they may have and providing additional support in real-time.
Communicate frequently, and not just in the beginning
Onboarding doesn’t end after the first week or even the first month. Providing ongoing support to your new hires can help them feel more connected and supported in their role.
Communication is key, always, but even more so when it comes to remote work. Make sure you have regular check-ins with the new employee to answer their questions and provide feedback on their work. It's also important to keep encouraging open communication so that your new employee feels comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, which gives you insight on what you can do to keep enhancing your onboarding process!
To maintain momentum and continuous support, you can schedule repeating check-ins for the first few months or even provide additional training if needed. We recommend starting with scheduling a 1-week follow up call as well as a recurring monthly check-in call.
Before you go, here’s what to keep in mind
Pace things out: To avoid overwhelming the new employee with tasks, it's important to gradually introduce work and set timelines for completion. As they become more comfortable with their responsibilities, increase the complexity and responsibility of each task. Stay true to your company values: You’ll want to keep re-anchoring yourself to your stated values and sticking with them, especially if you want to be an organization that puts people first. It's crucial to be transparent and honest with employees, so they trust the organization they've joined. This type of transparency from the employer will only inspire and encourage the new employee to show up to their responsibilities with the same honesty and integrity.Keep refining your strategy: Regularly evaluate the onboarding process and use the opportunity to gather feedback from new hires so that you can keep refining and improving your strategy. Streamline the process, eliminate redundancies, and make it a positive and enjoyable experience for new employees.
Are you ready to give your new hires an onboarding experience like no other?
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