Onboarding remote employees successfully can be trickier than welcoming new colleagues to the physical office. Everybody knows how important first impressions are, yet onboarding is often overlooked by many organizations. A study by Glassdoor shows that organizations with a good onboarding improve retention of new hires by 82% and productivity by 70%.
A successful onboarding can last anywhere between a few days to a couple of months and it should help the (remote employee) to:
- Become familiar with company policies & culture
- Meet and get to know the team and the organization as a whole
- Understand their role and responsibilities
Here are some tips and tricks on how to successfully onboard remote employees.
· Start immediately and through video
When new employees join an organization they often can’t wait to get started. Make sure to turn that positive energy into a productive and motivated employee. Make sure to block time directly in the morning to get a positive start. Nothing is more discouraging to remote employees than to receive a document and then sit and wait for the manager to finish a meeting.
· Ensure access
Set up email and arrange all access beforehand, this will ensure that all practicalities are in place from day one. This also means that the new employee has a way to quickly catch up with what has been going on in the company during the most recent weeks from emails. The access to mail or other tools can either be given before, to provide an opportunity to voluntarily follow what is doing on. Remember to also give access to where you are meeting for the first time. In many cases the employee will be up and running quickly if the preparations are well done, don’t leave the new person for 2 hours fixing practicalities that are done in 5 minutes (which might work in a physical office when there are people at the neighboring desks). At Teemyco, the teem members are given access to our online office beforehand so they can enter day one.
· Meet people
The manager should be the person welcoming and conducting the initial onboarding for the remote employee. However, the onboarding process is an excellent opportunity to include as many people as possible both inside and outside the team. Split the responsibilities. The manager can introduce the role and answer practical questions around the everyday work tasks and the company in general. Meanwhile, why not let a colleague or someone from finance/HR walk through the practical tools that are company wide, such as salary or reporting system.
Don’t miss the informal part
Let a colleague talk about informal routines such as after-works, monthly online game nights or similar activities. This colleague could also be assigned as a buddy, for any spontaneous question. Early established remote relationships will make it much easier to solve small bottlenecks, especially between people that don’t work on a daily basis. This has been reported as one of the main pain points of remote organization. At Teemyco we grant our new employees a separate room in our online office that all colleagues are encouraged to drop by and say hi, just like a physical desk.
Prepare an employee handbook
It can be overwhelming for a new remote employee to remember and understand everything. It can also be hard for the onboarding manager or colleague to remember informal information. If there is a written document, it ensures a cohesive view within the company on the culture. Include best practices such as camera policies in meetings, walk-and-talks, when can you or can you not disturb people for questions or how information is split between email or other tools.
Prepare a list with the practicalities:
Finally also prepare a list of practicalities, the administrative things that go unnoticed but cannot be forgotten. Here are a few things not to forget:
How does it work with vacation?
How does time/absence reporting work?
What do I do if I have company expenses?
In summary, a successful onboarding is a lot about preparation to make the best out of the first period. For remote employees the onboarding is extra important as many remote organizations say that loneliness and struggles with ad-hoc conversation or small questions are some of the main pain points. Providing new hires with an experience tailored towards a remote workforce is a beneficial way to ensure a smooth, engaging and successful onboarding experience.