The onboarding process of a remote employee is entirely different from that of a non-remote employee. In the non-remote onboarding, the new employee starts having their nerves settled after a few interactions with other colleagues and even better if with the CEO itself. But in remote employee onboarding, there are no such interactions, which makes their orientation challenging.
Generally, someone joining a new company will always have uncertainties, questions, and curiosity. This may give them a sleepless night just before their very first day of joining, which is, however, natural. Nevertheless, the onboarding process helps the new employee greatly in this regard.
Before the pandemic had begun, onboarding for remote job positions was usually in-person. Thus, the orientation about the culture of the company and other important aspects was at the workplace, following which the employees were supposed to start their remote working.
After the pandemic, companies started their process of orienting the new employees (hired for remote work) started remotely, which was rather new. Therefore, the chances are that the worker that has been hired to work remotely might not be familiar with virtual onboarding. Also, their organizational socialization is bound to be different than their colleagues who had been onboarded in the office.
Given that companies may find onboarding their remote teams difficult, we share some of the tips that will enable a smooth and efficient remote employee onboarding. You can, nonetheless, also make use of these steps for onboarding your employees from the office.
It’s always a good idea to have someone dedicatedly work for the remote employee onboarding. Appointing someone exclusively for onboarding the new employees is always important, which is usually performed by HR. And while for non-remote orientations, this can be extremely helpful, for remote orientations, it is inevitable.
A person appointed to onboard a new hire is usually responsible for answering the questions of the new workers in regard to any aspect of the organization. And since the new employee has no one else to ask (due to the lack of interaction with others), it is the ultimate responsibility of the concerned person to fully enlighten the newly hired.
In remote employee onboarding, designating a resource to help remove any question(s) of the one who is newly hired and to make them feel they belong is crucial for the employee experience. Identifying and appointing someone who’s competent enough to make the first day of a remote employee rather enjoyable is more important than in the case of non-remote employee onboarding.
It is important a person responsible for onboarding the new hires should be informal, at least for the day of onboarding. It serves the purpose of making the new employee comfortable not only in asking a question but also in their joining.
An employee on its first day, precisely the orientation day, may have a lot of things on their mind, which may make them ask endless questions. However, all their questions should be answered with sufficient explanation. Also, they should not be given an impression that they’re asking a lot of questions (and at times illogical ones), as it could negatively affect their first day and employee experience. Importantly, doing so will not leave them with a very good impression of the company they’ve just joined, which may later prove to be adverse for their performance, productivity, engagement, and retention.
The last thing for the concerned person to perform in this regard is to ensure that the virtual employee is aware that they will be the one briefing them about the organization, its culture, and people. This can be achieved by approaching the remote employee in time so to make them know that they will not be all on their own on their very first joining.
Soon after a position has been filled by someone, a great remote employee onboarding tip is to make them connect with their new organization. One way of achieving it is by sending the new employee care packages.
A global consumer products company, Reckitts, soon after it has hired a new worker, sends care packages to them before their day of joining. This package contains the products from the company and a note on how the company appreciates and looks forward to making the very employee a part of their workforce family.
It is one of the great remote employee onboarding practices to host virtual lunches for newly hired employees. Forbes, for example, organizes lunches between its new employees and managers, both virtually and non-virtually. It also helps get to know the new hires better and to have a deeper insight into their personality. Lastly, it enables the respective managers to learn about the employee beyond what’s been mentioned on their resumes.
Xentre inc. also organizes lunches for its new hires. They ask questions that help them look deeper into their personality. The question(s) that they ask: “If you could eat one thing for the rest of your life, what would that be?”.
The newly hired remote employee at the Xentre also play games such as truths and a lie, which not only helps to have their true selves depicted to a large extent but also makes the employee become comfortable with their new company.
One of the ingenious ways to make your remote employee onboarding smooth is through introductory videos from the current employees of a company. A company looking to have an effortless yet productive remote employee onboarding, its serving employees can create a video where they can introduce themselves, their roles, skills, and interests.
When your newly hired employee gets introduced to their soon-to-be peers and learns about their fun and lighter side as well, it enables them to connect better in the future.
Moreover, such personalized videos help give the new employee a reminder that besides being top professionals in their fields, at the end of the day, they are just the humans as they are. And this leads them to have better future collaborations and helps build effective workplace relations, which benefits the organization eventually.
A smooth remote employee onboarding process requires you to make your new employees experience the same vibes of the first day if they were joining from the office. You can think about and, so, come up with all the aspects that would have made a great first day for your new hires at the office. And you can incorporate the same virtually.
A session with the employees over video calls is just not enough. If you are really looking to make your orientation effective such that it has a long-lasting positive impact on your new employee’s productivity, performance, and engagement, it is necessary that their employee experience is positive from day one.
“I’m a fan of live and interactive virtual onboarding: playing games, telling stories and mixing formality with informal chat. The first 90 days are critical for a new hire’s entry into an organization and one of the most strategic program designs HR oversees. The onboarding process should not be robotic and should allow time for socializing and learning, which bridges the gap between engagement and assimilation.” – Nakisha Griffin from Ripple Effect.
Another key for a well-ordered remote employee onboarding is to prioritize and work on the employee orientation process itself. Meaning that to onboard a new employee effectively, it is necessary that your onboarding and its relevant aspects have a solid basis.
“Focus on the basics of the onboarding experience: timely follow-ups, near-constant availability to answer questions, properly set expectations with new hires throughout the process and invest in technology that creates an immersive new hire candidate experience. This will allow the new hire to experience the company’s culture and work dynamically without having to physically be in the office.” – says Ed Barrientos from Brazen Technologies
It is always a great idea to communicate virtually with the employee hired to work remotely. Since the same employee will be onboarded virtually, communicating with them using the same platforms and resources helps make sure that everything goes smoothly on the orientation day. Additionally, it helps remove any first-day anxiety, which allows the employee to be more confident and relaxed on the day of onboarding.
Establishing a virtual communication prior also enables both the company and its newly hired remote employee to learn and overcome any technical issues which may disrupt the communication.
Prior communication also enables companies to know about the resources that their remote employee lacks for performing their tasks better virtually. Thus, an employee may be sent any required device or may be asked to acquire one timely. Also, some companies may perform the required configuration and set any security protocols on their remote employees’ devices.
Communicating before the orientation day the employees not only ensures a robust virtual session between the company and its employees but also develops a much-needed connection between the two.
Employees coming to the office for work sooner or later develop workplace relationships. Even the most introverted of employees build relationships over a period of time with their colleagues. However, the same is not true for the employees working virtually.
One of the things to perform in regard to remote employee onboarding is to conduct face-to-face virtual meetings with newly hired employee and their colleagues. And while it may be difficult to conduct and have one-on-one interactions between the new and all the other employees, interactions between the peers who will be working closely together should not be difficult and is a must.
Besides the peers who’ll be working together more, it is also important in a remote employee onboarding process that the virtual employees interact with the other employees as well, irrespective of whether they’ll be working together or not.
The reason why it is important to introduce peers who are not related to their work is that in a virtual setting, mostly, the remote employees interact with specific people only for a long period. And this may result in boredom for the virtual employee, thus making work rather boring and a burden. As a consequence, their levels of productivity and engagement may also be affected negatively.
To conclude, the purpose of making a remotely working employee interact with other colleagues is to positively impact their employee and workplace experience by making work rather fun and not tedious.
Providing a list of the key people the newly hired remote employee will be working with is one of the foundations for a successful remote employee onboarding. Enlightening the new employee on why working with these people is necessary helps them in their future collaborations.
Besides the list of key stakeholders, enabling the newly hired employee to interact with them is also a great idea, which actually is the essence of the onboarding process; to get to know the team members better.
The employee onboarding process is not a one-day process only. However, while it has the most impact on the joining day of the employee, the following days are also significant. This being the reason, the employee orientation process should not be considered limited to the first day only.
Owing to the fact that successful employee onboarding is spread for the first few days, if not weeks, your remote employee onboarding should also have a span of more than a day.
In remote employee onboarding, it is important to make the employees learn about the culture of the company on their very first day. You can let them know about each and every aspect of the organizational culture. Essentially, you should explain what is acceptable in your company’s culture and what is not. Also, the new employees should be made comfortable so they can ask anything that comes to their minds.
Briefing your new hires about your culture in person (virtually) is a great way to introduce them to the company values. However, including material regarding it on the company website may help make the new employee become better familiar.
You can make use of the “About the company” section, where you can share videos and documents explaining your company values and norms. This may allow the newly hired worker to go through it and have a prior idea of what your culture entails. Importantly, it can help shorten the session where the organizational culture is explained to the new hiring.
Most of the time, the new employee is not briefed about some of the cultural aspects that the company may consider as “understood” or “obvious.” Nonetheless, this often leads to ambiguities and conflicts in the future.
In order to avoid future conflict, which may arise due to the assumption that a particular culture is universal and thus obvious, it is important to express them clearly no matter how standard or universal they may seem. This not only helps save trouble for the company but for the respective employee as well.
The norms and the culture that the company may assume as pre-understood by its newly hired employee can include the dress code, office-messaging culture, rules for the video meetings, office hours, etc.
It may seem like a waste of time and also energy while explaining the typical rules and norms, but it definitely pays off sooner or later in the future.
Explaining your company’s culture to the new hirings is important. However, a company should have someone designated to perform this job. Some companies like to refer to such a person as “culture buddy.”
Having a culture buddy can prove to be extremely helpful and effective. Importantly, while they are not responsible for the complete onboarding process, their job is limited to briefing the company’s culture.
The role of such a person is not limited to the day-one only. Irrespective of how better the new employees are explained to the organization’s culture, there are definitely going to be instances where the actions of the newly hired employee may not fall into the company culture. Therefore, the culture buddy may require to hold sessions/ meetings/ briefings with the very employee to explain where and why they fell short of complying with the company culture.
The culture buddy may also share how the actions of their new colleague, which were not in line with the company’s culture, could be seen by the rest of the organization. They may also suggest the actions for rectification to the new employee.
Your new remote employee should be made clear about the expectations of the company from them. It should also be clear to them what the company wants them to achieve in the short and long term both.
The new hires should be briefed about the ideal role that the company expects them to play in achieving its success. A newly hired employee can also be shared with the roles of the company’s worthwhile employees, the ones that helped the company become successful.
For defining what success is considered and making the new remote employee work on the related course of action, the role of leadership is essential. It is the leadership that, in the beginning, helps the new hire get on the right course of action, which eventually helps the employee to achieve success in the short and long terms.
In addition to defining the ideal contributions from the new employee, it is equally essential to clearly define their roles. In remote employee onboarding, making it clear to the employees the roles and responsibilities that their job position requires them to have, goes a long way in helping them achieve organizational success.
With the roles of employees clear, it makes it easier for them to prioritize their tasks, which helps build the foundational success of both employees and the organization. Moreover, as the new employee is assigned more roles and responsibilities, it helps them adapt to their newer roles.
Employee onboarding, without a doubt, is one of the factors that determine the productivity, engagement, and, thus, the success of an employee in a company. Taking care of a few factors, such as making sure no technical faults exist, can help make the onboarding process simple. It also leads to effective employee orientation.
An ineffective and rather unsmooth employee onboarding does not leave the new employee with a good impression of the company, which might lead them to have second thoughts about accepting a job there. Furthermore, it may become one of the factors negatively impacting the newly hired employee’s performance in the future. Thus, since both the scenarios are not ideal for any company, the onboarding process is not to be considered insignificant.
Remote employee onboarding is arguably more crucial than onboarding the employees who work from the workplace. Your remote employee may require a better and stronger orientation about the company since they will not be in physical interaction with its people, culture, and workplace. For this reason, we can conclude that introducing the company to a new employee hired to work remotely may be more important than introducing it to a non-remote employee.
The steps that this article has discussed can make remote employee onboarding effortless and productive. From creating a connection between the employee and the employer to helping the new employees interact with their peers are some of the ways your company can adopt to make your employee orientation easy and fruitful.