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Remote Onboarding: Process and Best Practices

6 min read

The hiring and onboarding of remote employees have become a regular task for recruiters and companies across the US. And thanks to advancements in HR technology, these onboarding processes have become considerably easier over time.

However, for new employees, remote onboarding and digital onboarding can be challenging. There is so much to take in, and doing it all remotely can sometimes be harder. This is why it is vital that your company has a clear onboarding plan to aid remote employees through the onboarding process.

This article will uncover the ways to make remote employees’ onboarding process as plain sailing and least daunting as possible.

Onboarding Remote Employees

Remote onboarding is the process of welcoming new members to your team remotely and providing them with the tools that they need to do their job.  Although onboarding new employees remotely poses its challenges, an effective onboarding process has been proven to improve retention by 82%. Studies show that employees are twice as likely to move jobs if they have a negative onboarding experience.

So, starting the onboarding process well will save your company a lot of money and time. Therefore, nailing the remote onboarding process is not so much a need, but a necessity.

Remote Onboarding Process

Once a new employee is hired, what comes next? Here is an outline of how to onboard remote employees from the moment they sign their offer letter.

Remote Onboarding Starts Before the First Day

Before the new remote employee’s first day, you should begin the remote pre-onboarding or “preboarding” process.  This window of time is an excellent opportunity to get tedious administrative tasks and paperwork out of the way.  Have a look at a list of required onboarding documents and make sure that all equipment and technical gear is ready to go.  The more that you can prepare ahead of time, the better.

Remote Onboarding: Orientation & First Days

Remote orientation and onboarding function in a similar way to in-person orientation and onboarding.  It is essential that new remote employees receive an overview of their roles, the company’s policies, and have the opportunity to meet coworkers.  Before the remote orientation, you should prepare the following:

  • An employee handbook for remote employees

    This could detail company culture, values, the team, ongoing projects, etc.  Be sure to be clear about policies related to remote work.  Using a remote policy checklist can help you to facilitate this process.

  • Onboarding activities

    It is always a great idea to organize a few icebreaker activities to help new employees introduce themselves and feel integrated into a team.  Establishing a personal connection with coworkers is especially crucial for employees who are working remotely.  Creative ideas for onboarding new employees can help to set your company apart. However, onboarding activities don’t have to be anything fancy to be effective.  A simple trivia game or “two truths and one lie” will work perfectly.

  • A welcome kit for new employees

    Sending a friendly message and a kit to welcome a new employee can do wonders for a brand’s image.  It shows the new team member that they are valued and appreciated.  Not to mention, it helps the onboarding process feel more “official” and organized for remote employees.

This will help the new employees get to know and understand the company better, easing them into the process of working there.

Introduce the New Remote Employee to the Team

It is very important to introduce the new remote employees to the rest of the team. This can be done via a team messaging platform such as Slack. You could include a few sentences that the new employee has written about themselves, so that other employees feel they know a little bit more about them and therefore will feel more comfortable approaching them to make them feel welcome.

This also works the other way around. By announcing the arrival of the new employee, it will help them feel more comfortable messaging their teammates if they have any issues or need help with something.

Connect Remote Employees with their Managers

Arrange a one-on-one with the new employee straight away. This establishes a relationship between the new remote employee and the manager from the beginning. In this first meeting, they should discuss all the logistical aspects of the new job and give them the opportunity to ask any questions.

Check-in after Onboarding Remotely

It is important to arrange regular video call check-ins with the new remote employees to see how they are doing. In a study conducted, it was revealed that generally speaking, employees with good support in place during their onboarding are 54% more productive. In the beginning, these could take place every day, to make sure the new hire feels supported and has someone to talk to if they have any issues. After the first week, arrange a check-in 2 to 3 times a week, however, be clear that if they require more meetings, you will be happy to cater to their needs. This is vital to helping make them feel supported.

Best Trends in Onboarding Remote Employees

Just like how physical onboarding is a process, so too is remote onboarding. Make sure you don’t make the mistake of regarding it as just a one-week thing. The learning process is constant, so setting the onboarding process to one week it can make new employees feel pressured to know and understand everything, which is impossible to achieve in only one week.

Many organizations only provide one week of onboarding, which is simply not enough time. Research shows that the best employee onboarding programs extend from 90 days to a year. So that new remote employees feel fully trained and capable to do their very best.

Remote Employee Onboarding Checklist [Free Template]

When it comes to planning out employee onboarding, there are many steps and details to consider.  Planning for a remote onboarding is not necessarily any easier.  To help facilitate the process, it is useful to have an onboarding checklist of all the things you need to include from start to finish.

This will help guide managers in making sure they do not miss a step and they cover everything they need to in the induction week. New employees will also benefit from an organized and structured plan.

In order to develop a remote onboarding checklist, you need to be sure to include a plan for the new employee’s first week on the job.  They should have a clear idea of what to expect, their responsibilities, and their goals.

Additionally, it could be good to share an onboarding schedule with new employees.  This will show them that their onboarding process has been meticulously planned out for them and will also give them a clear structure. In turn, they will feel more assured and at ease.

Remote Onboarding Best Practices

Start a Buddy program

New remote employees have been found to feel a sense of imposter syndrome. With this comes the feeling of being isolated and not knowing who to ask for feedback and help. This is why buddy programs are so important in facilitating new hire success. In a study conducted, buddy programs have been proven to boost new hire proficiency by 87%.

By setting up the remote employee with a buddy, this buddy can be their point of call to answer any issues they may have. The employee may feel too awkward or shy to ask multiple questions to their manager. But with a buddy, they might feel more comfortable asking more questions.

Promote Collaborative Learning

Creating group projects for remote employees forms relationships between the new employees and other colleagues. This will work to make them feel more comfortable and confident. The more confident they feel, the more likely they are to contribute their suggestions and ideas in group meetings.

However, this is not only good for establishing relationships, but also provides the opportunity to cross-train teams. This means that employees from different sectors of the company can learn from each other.

Ask for Feedback: The Remote Onboarding Experience

Lastly, it is important to ask your remote employees for feedback on the onboarding process. Ask them what went well and what they liked, and also what they think you could have improved on. Having gone through the process they will be the best equipped to give you constructive feedback. Their advice is vital to making your company’s future onboarding process as good and as effective as possible.

Remote Onboarding Software

To truly benefit from the onboarding process, it is essential that people teams and HR managers prepare and organize accordingly.  However, the initial administrative processes and paperwork can be overwhelming for any team.  Many professionals choose to use HR onboarding software in order to eliminate paperwork, stay compliant, and ensure a smooth remote onboarding experience from start to finish.

Factorial’s employee onboarding feature enables a personalized onboarding process for each and every contracted remote employee. It guarantees your employees a quality onboarding experience through structured task flows, increasing the efficiency of how quickly you obtain results. These task flows can be customized and assigned to certain people. Informing all employees of their pending tasks and of their scheduled completion date.

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