Onboarding remote employees: how to get it right

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If your company is embracing work-from-home options for your team, you may find yourself needing some sensible strategies for new staff onboarding – namely, a process for onboarding remote employees.

While it takes a bit of extra effort and creativity, onboarding remote employees doesn’t have to be as difficult as it may sound. After all, plenty of all-remote companies have been making employees feel welcome and included from a distance for several years.

And the more organized you are when onboarding remote employees, the better the likely outcome for you and your staff.

Below are a few strategies that will help new remote workers:

  • Feel clear about their respective roles
  • Be engaged with their work
  • Make productive contributions to your team

Onboarding remote employees: same goals, different format

The main goal of employee onboarding is to give your new hires a thorough understanding of their role and empower them with confidence and clarity. This can enable them to put their full energy into their work and truly excel.

Remote employee onboarding should have the same goals.

While you can’t take away the natural anxiety that comes when someone steps into a new role, you can help alleviate worries new hires may feel about learning the basics of their job.

Yes, even in a virtual context, you can scaffold new employee success by providing structure and support, communicating well and helping them engage socially with your team.

Your remote onboarding team

Having a great system for onboarding remote employees means having a great team to support the process and the new hires.

Ideally, each new hire would receive remote onboarding support from three people:

  • A designated HR representative (possibly their recruiter) provides continued support related to early HR issues, like selecting benefits options.
  • A designated IT representative assists with new employee’s remote office setup.
  • The manager or direct supervisor serves as the primary onboarding guide, helping employees adapt quickly to the organization and connecting their work to your company’s vision.

For IT and HR onboarding support, it’s best to give new remote employees specific names and contact information, not just a number to call or a link to click. Personalizing these forms of support can help remote employees feel more connected.

Proactive pre-employment strategies

Prepping new hires for day one of any job is important. When onboarding remote workers specifically, being proactive – and collegial – between acceptance of the job offer and the first day helps sets the right professional tone.

In a remote context, managers should put a little extra effort in helping their new hires get ready to start. Here’s a timeline outlining some important touch points to make during this pre-employment period.

Pre-employment timeline:

1. Two weeks before the first day

Email the employee and let them know the date their office equipment will be delivered (if your company is providing it).

2. Following equipment delivery

Call the employee to ensure they received their office equipment.

3. One week before the first day

Have a video call with the employee to ensure they can log onto their computer and phone systems. This is a good time to see if anything seems to be missing from their setup.

4. One day before

Send a quick “see you tomorrow” message.

Remote employee welcome kit

If you are providing your new remote employee with company-issued office equipment, you can utilize the shipment of their equipment as an opportunity to provide additional onboarding information.

Here are some ideas of things to include in a remote employee welcome kit:

  • All necessary office equipment – laptop, phone and any other hardware
  • A printed roadmap detailing how to set up their home office and log onto your company’s systems for the first time
  • A reminder to have everything set up one week prior to their start date
  • Reference guide to all of the tools and resources available to them (e.g., contact information for their supervisor, HR and IT support persons)
  • Schedule of meetings for their first day or week

Those are the essentials, but you might also include items or t-shirts branded with your company logo, gift certificates to a meal delivery service in their area or other simple gifts…

Source: Insperity

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