There’s no doubt that remote work is on the rise. In fact, a recent Gallup poll found that 43 percent of employed Americans spent at least some time working remotely in 2016, up from 39 percent in 2012. And while there are plenty of benefits to this trend – greater flexibility, fewer distractions, and so on – it can also pose some challenges, especially when it comes to onboarding new team members.
If not done right, remote onboarding can be a disorienting and even isolating experience for new hires. But with a little planning and effort, it can be just as smooth and effective as in-person onboarding. Here are 13 tips to help you get started.
Make coaching and mentoring part of onboarding and beyond
When onboarding new employees, it is important to make coaching and mentoring part of the process. This involves providing new hires with guidance and feedback as they learn their new roles. It can be done through one-on-one meetings, group sessions, or even online courses.
Coaching and mentoring help new hires to feel supported as they transition into their new roles. It also helps to ensure that they are learning the skills and knowledge they need to be successful. This can be done internally, or you can look for external resources like CoachHub if needed.
Make sure management is involved
The most important part of remote onboarding is making sure that management is involved. This means setting up regular check-ins with new hires, providing clear expectations, and offering feedback. Without management involvement, it can be difficult to effectively onboard new employees.
It is also one of the most effective ways to make sure new hires feel that they are being inducted into company culture, meeting key decision makers, and being part of the team from day one. One of the biggest mistakes an organization can make when welcoming new members is making it appear as though leaders and management are distant and unavailable. It’s understandable that with the geographical barriers inherent to remote work, this may be more difficult to achieve but it’s important to try.
There are a number of great tools available to help with remote onboarding. Many of these tools allow for video conferencing, which can be used for team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and even social gatherings. Other tools allow for the sharing of documents and files, which can be helpful when onboarding new employees who are not in the same office.
Onboarding tech has greatly improved in recent years, and there are now a number of options available to companies. Utilizing these tools can help to make remote onboarding more effective. For instance, video conferencing can be used to give new hires a tour of the office, even if they are not in the same location.
Create a structured onboarding plan
One of the most important things you can do when onboarding new employees remotely are to create a structured onboarding plan. This plan should include everything from an overview of the company and its culture to specific tasks that need to be completed during the first few weeks on the job.
Having a plan helps to ensure that new hires feel welcome and that they know what is expected of them. It also helps to reduce some of the stress that can come with starting a new job.
Creating a structured onboarding plan is even more important when onboarding remotely. This is because there are often more logistical challenges involved in remote work, such as time zone differences and lack of in-person contact. Having a plan helps to overcome some of these challenges and makes sure that everyone is on the same page.
Set clear expectations
When onboarding new employees, it is important to set clear expectations. This means being clear about deadlines, deliverables, and what is expected in terms of work hours and communication.
It can be tempting to try to micromanage new hires, but this is often counterproductive. Instead, focus on setting clear expectations and then giving employees the freedom to meet those expectations in their own way. This will help to build trust and respect, and it will also allow new hires to feel more ownership over their work.
Use video conferencing for check-ins
When onboarding new employees remotely, it is important to use video conferencing for check-ins. This allows you to see each other’s faces and body language, which can help to build rapport and trust. It also allows you to ask questions and give feedback in a more personal way.
If possible, try to do regular check-ins via video conferencing. This will help you to stay connected with new hires and ensure that they are adjusting well to their new roles.
Encourage social interaction
Providing new hires with opportunities to socialize and interact with their colleagues is an important part of remote onboarding. This can be done in a number of ways, such as through video conferencing, chat rooms, or even online games.
Encouraging social interaction helps to build a sense of community and belonging. It also helps new hires to feel more comfortable in their new roles.
Establish a buddy system
When onboarding new employees remotely, it is important to make sure there is a dedicated point person. This person should be responsible for answering questions, providing support, and helping new hires to acclimate to their new roles.
Having a dedicated point person helps to ensure that new hires have someone to turn to when they need help. It also helps to build a sense of community and belonging, which can be difficult to achieve when working remotely.
One way to encourage this and support new hires is to establish a buddy system. This involves pairing new hires with more experienced employees who can answer their questions and provide guidance.
The buddy system can be a great way to help new hires feel welcome and supported. It also helps to build relationships and foster communication within the company. It is often the case that, like college roommates, a new hire’s buddy or guide when they first start working ends up becoming one of their good friends.
Encourage feedback and questions
Encouraging new hires to give feedback and ask questions is an important part of remote onboarding. This helps to ensure that they are comfortable with their new roles and have the opportunity to voice any concerns they may have.
You want to always be asking for continuous feedback because this is ultimately how companies improve their remote onboarding processes, improve employee retention rates, and create an environment where everyone feels like they can be themselves without judgment.
Make sure everyone has the same access to information and resources
When onboarding new employees remotely, it is important to make sure that everyone has the same access to information and resources. This helps to ensure that new hires are able to learn and perform their roles effectively.
One way to do this is to create a central repository of information, such as a wiki or an intranet site. This ensures that new hires can easily find the information they need when they need it. Having knowledge bases that are universally accessible (permission-based, of course) is one of the absolute best ways to improve productivity for new hires, who often find themselves fumbling around for information and haphazardly emailing other people for answers to their questions.
Consider gamifying some or all of the onboarding process
This is an optional tip, but one that can be very effective. Gamification is the process of using game-like elements to make tasks more fun and engaging. This can be a great way to keep new hires engaged during the onboarding process.
There are a number of ways you can gamify onboarding, such as by setting up challenges, awarding points, or giving prizes. This can help to make the process more enjoyable for new hires and increase their motivation to learn.
Use data to track progress and identify areas for improvement
When onboarding new employees remotely, it is important to use data to track progress and identify areas for improvement. This helps you to ensure that the process is effective and that new hires are meeting their goals.
There are a number of ways you can collect data, such as through surveys, interviews, or even data analytics. This data can then be used to improve the onboarding process and make it more effective.
Make sure there is a clear understanding of expectations
When onboarding new employees remotely, it is important to make sure that there is a clear understanding of expectations. This helps to ensure that everyone is on the same page and that new hires know what is expected of them.
One way to do this is to create a document that outlines the expectations for the role. This can include things like job responsibilities, performance targets, and any other expectations that are specific to the role. This document can then be reviewed with the new hire during onboarding to ensure that they understand what is expected of them.
Onboarding new employees remotely can be a challenge, but it is possible to do effectively. By following these tips, you can set your new hires up for success and help them to adjust quickly to their new roles. Your onboarding process is the foundation of employee success and retention, so make sure to take the time to get it right.