Onboarding Remote Employees: Best Practices and Tips
- As the remote work landscape has become increasingly popular, businesses have had to adapt to virtual onboarding and training methods to offer a positive onboarding experience
- Communicating business expectations and job requirements and sharing vital information is key to integrating a new hire
- Other best practices, such as fostering a positive company culture and offering professional development, further boost the chance of long-term success
Remote work has become increasingly popular since the pandemic revealed the ease and efficiency of employees working from home (and worldwide). As more businesses have expanded globally, various hiring and onboarding processes are becoming streamlined.
Today, virtually onboarding new hires has become the new normal, and there are tried and tested methods that help remote employees integrate into the company culture.
We’ve put together some best practices and tips foronboarding remote employees , setting both the organization and the workforce up for long-term success.
Communicate Effectively with New Hires
Effective communication is the cornerstone of an effective onboarding program and future collaboration. As new hires embark on the next leg of their professional journey with your company, it’s essential that you provide all necessary information about their roles, responsibilities, and expectations for the job position. Including all information in the employee handbook for future reference is helpful.
With clear and concise communication, it’s possible to onboard remote team members into a new role despite the distance, ensuring no miscommunication or confusion. It’s also important to create an open line of communication for team members to address any questions or concerns that may arise during the onboarding process.
To make the most of communication efforts, consider the following tips.
- Send a warm welcome before the start date to introduce key team members and provide any necessary information to help the new employee feel prepared and valued
- Clearly communicate goals, responsibilities, and timelines in writing for easy reference
- Establish a clear communication plan that outlines when, how, and which channels are used during the onboarding process
- Be accessible and responsive throughout the onboarding process to answer questions and offer guidance
- Encourage regular feedback to identify areas for improvement to ensure employee needs are met
Provide All Necessary Equipment
Remote hires may work from a coworking space, home, or coffee shop. These locations may be across different time zones and geographical locations. While these details may be insignificant regarding productivity, providing all necessary equipment is essential for a smooth and efficient onboarding.
New team members should have access to the right tools and equipment to familiarize themselves with all hardware, software, and other resources to do their job effectively. For example, laptops, monitors, and specialized software and communication tools empower employees to become accustomed to doing their jobs effectively.
Providing all necessary equipment demonstrates the company’s commitment to the remote workforce. The action fosters a sense of professionalism and creates an environment that encourages optimal performance and collaboration.
Consider the following tips when providing the necessary equipment for remote hires.
- Conduct a technology needs assessment based on each new hire and their roles and responsibilities
- Coordinate timely delivery of hardware so that new hires have what they need before the first day
- Provide clear setup instructions such as user manuals and login credentials
- Offer technical support as needed, either through a dedicated ITs support team or a specific individual who is familiar with all equipment and software
- Communicate equipment return procedures in advance to avoid future confusion
Set Clear Goals and Expectations
Along with communication, it’s vital to set clear goals and expectations when onboarding remote employees to ensure everyone understands what is expected of them from the beginning.
In a traditional onboarding process, physical presence and direct supervision offer guidance. Yet during a remote onboarding process, establishing clear goals and expectations provides a roadmap to success.
Lay the foundation for accountability and productivity by clearly defining expectations, helping new hires understand their priorities, focus their efforts, and measure their progress. Make sure to include clarity on performance standards, deliverables, and communication protocols.
With this knowledge, it becomes easier to integrate as part of the team confidently. Here are a few tips to get it right.
- Define specific and measurable goals that are relevant and attainable
- Communicate key responsibilities and deliverables in line with goals and expectations
- Provide context of the employee’s role with the broader organizational goals to help them understand the importance of their work in the larger context
- Set realistic timelines and deliverables
Schedule Regular Check-Ins
Regular check-ins during the onboarding phase play an important role in fostering integration and encouraging future success for new employees. In the remote work environment, traditional face-to-face interactions are not always possible, andvirtual check-ins are necessary to provide opportunities for connection, support, and guidance.
During these regular check-ins, managers align expectations of the new hire, address any questions or concerns, and provide feedback in a timely manner. It also provides an opportunity to support the new employee and establish a sense of accountability to thrive in the future.
Ongoing conversations through video call tools help employees feel more connected while giving managers insight into their progress. Whether you choose daily or weekly check-ins, it’s helpful to touch base and demonstrate commitment to the growth and development of remote teams.
To make the most of regular check-ins, consider the following best practices.
- Establish a recurring schedule at a set day and time to ensure consistent communication and support during the onboarding process
- Make use of video conferencing tools to boost engagement and make the connection more personal
- Set clear objectives for each check-in to ensure that the discussions are focused and productive
- Encourage active participation so employees feel comfortable asking questions, sharing updates, and asking for guidance
- Provide meeting reminders leading up to the check-in to ensure everyone is prepared
Foster a Positive Company Culture
In a remote environment, physical interactions and in-person exchanges are limited, so extra effort is needed to cultivate a positive company culture and create a sense of belonging, camaraderie, and shared values.
Hiring managers, HR representatives, and mentors should emphasize inclusivity, collaboration, and support as you make new hires feel welcomed, engaged, and motivated to offer their best. Take the time to introduce the company culture and values through team-building exercises and ice-breaker sessions.
When creating a positive company culture, it becomes easier to build strong relationships and instill a sense of purpose in the new job role. Positivity is contagious, and as more remote employees embrace the positive company culture, it will boost morale, productivity, and retention.
Consider the following tips for instilling a positive company culture.
- Ensure that the introduction is warm and welcoming, with team-building exercises emphasizing company culture and values
- Encourage communication and collaboration by promoting open communication channels and virtual collaboration tools, such as Slack channels and Zoom
- Provide mentorship and buddy systems for new hires to provide guidance and support
- Recognize and celebrate achievements — even from the onboarding phase — through virtual recognition programs and shout-outs during team meetings to foster a sense of appreciation
- Prioritize employee well-being by promoting a healthy work-life balance through the likes of virtual wellness programs, flexible work schedules, and resources for remote work productivity
Provide Opportunities for Professional Development
Addressing learning and growth can be challenging in a remote environment, and organizations need to invest in developing remote employees from the get-go. Making professional development a priority demonstrates a commitment to long-term success.
Training programs, workshops, and access to learning resources are a few ways organizations can empower the global workforce to enhance their skills,expand their knowledge , and stay relevant in their roles. It also helps remote employees stay connected to the organization, its goals, and the industry as a whole.
Access to professional development opportunities fosters a sense of engagement which can boost motivation and job satisfaction. Helping remote employees advance their careers and professional journey makes them feel valued within the company, contributing to a positive employee experience.
Are you wondering how to implement these opportunities into your remote employee onboarding plan? Consider the following suggestions.
- Identify the skills and knowledge areas most relevant to the new employee’s role and development goals
- Offer virtual training sessions and workshops that can be completed in a remote capacity
- Assign a mentor or coach to provide guidance, support, and further opportunities for learning and growth in the specific role
- Encourage self-paced learning by offering access to resources such as e-books, articles, and educational videos
- Facilitate virtual networking opportunities (including internal networking events) to help new remote employees connect with peers and professionals in their field
Benefit from Onboarding Remote Employees
In the realm of remote working, the onboarding process lays the foundation for the successful and seamless integration of new hires. Setting clear goals and expectations, providing necessary equipment, and empowering remote workers from day one boosts the chance of success.
Prioritize regular check-ins and one-on-one meetings through effective communication channels to foster a sense of connection, support, and engagement. These meetings also contribute to a positive company culture that nurtures a sense of belonging (even from afar).
Implementing these tips andbest practices to your onboarding checklist makes it possible to promote productivity, collaboration, and long-term satisfaction from remote employees.
Author: Jemima Owen-Jones, Content Writer at Deel