How to Onboard Your Remote Staff

Every new hire, whether on-site or remote, should involve a formal onboarding process. Virtual employees are an increasingly popular staffing option. An appropriate onboarding program is needed to ensure that remote workers are productive and content in their role.

If you provide virtual employees with the right tools and communication platform, you can keep them engaged and accountable. Learning from the experience makes onboarding remote workers easier.

Why Is It Vital

New hires adjust more quickly with a well-planned onboarding strategy. The process should introduce new employees to their coworkers, the company mission, and the technologies they’ll be working with. This includes any documentation they’ll need to know, such as organizational charts and policies.

A thorough and welcoming onboarding process helps to build personal relationships and define expectations. New employees must be made comfortable with their coworkers and engaged with their jobs as early as possible.

Remote workers are more likely to feel isolated and unappreciated without a positive orientation strategy. If workers feel less involved their performance will suffer. An onboarding strategy that makes them a familiar and vital part of the team is crucial to integrating them into the company culture and forging bonds with colleagues.

Onboarding

Local employees have the opportunity to meet coworkers and managers face-to-face. They’re typically introduced to the other members of the team and have the opportunity to ask and answer questions. Observing reactions can also tell you a lot about how those relationships may progress.

Geographic distance and time zones can make relationship building a challenge for remote workers. They are less likely to understand the atmosphere and culture if they can’t be there in person. Normally, the best you can do is introduce them via scheduled video chat or conferencing.

When preparing to onboard remote workers, define the job description, responsibilities, and skillsets you need. Your onboarding program should incorporate necessary steps but still be tailored to each individual.

Here are some best practices to follow as you start taking on virtual employees.

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Direct Communication

Human nature is such that putting faces to names is important in making personal connections. If time and budget allow, bring remote workers to headquarters for face-to-face orientation and introductions. If not, daily connections via video conferencing can get them involved with the team.

New employees should be made to feel welcome so that they can be relaxed and feel free to ask questions. Mentoring with different employees can also help them build relationships. You and your employees, both in-house and remote, are also able to observe facial reactions and body language to provide more context.

Streaming video will give you a chance to take remote workers on a tour of your facilities without the need for travel. They should be introduced to their team members and other key players in the company. Virtual employees should also be involved in meetings so that they have a chance to give opinions and make suggestions as part of the team.

You might also suggest to other team members that they make the effort to welcome and get to know their new coworker.

Setting Expectations

Ensuring that your new worker is able to become productive from day one requires explaining your expectations providing direction. A few days beforehand, make sure you’ve provided them with a course of action. Keeping your remote hires engaged with their new role is the key to successful onboarding.

Your new hire should understand the timeframes you’ve set for getting them up to speed, team goals, company’s telecommuting policy, and personal responsibility. Make sure they have access to resources like HR policies, tutorials, schedules, and the various forms and procedures they’ll use. The more information you can provide, the more comfortable the remote worker will be.

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Make Your Hires Feel Welcome

Introducing a remote team member can also be quite an adjustment for on-site employees, especially if the new team member is from a different culture. It’s important for building a good relationship that both the remote hire and in-house employees ask questions. Before the new hire starts work, be sure to explain to the team what the virtual employee’s duties and responsibilities are, and workarounds for obstacles such as time zones.

At the same time, you should pay attention to the remote hire’s behavior and dialogs. It’s important that the remote worker feels comfortable functioning within your corporate culture and following team procedures. Virtual employees will be more productive if they feel welcomed and respected as a team member.

A good strategy to accelerate the process is to set up a mentorship program for the first week. Have the virtual employee work closely with your senior team members. This way they’ll retain knowledge better through direct experience and quickly develop a few strong relationships.

Assess and Evaluate

When you’re developing a process, it’s important to measure its effectiveness to make improvements. Collect feedback from your team, both individually and as a group throughout the onboarding experience. They may point out things that were missed or make suggestions to make the next onboarding experience go more smoothly.

It’s also crucial to get the reaction of the new remote hire, both during the process and after they seem settled into their role. Document what you’ve planned and assess the feedback you’ve received to refine the process. In time you’ll figure out what works best for the new hire, your team, and the company.

In summary, hiring remote workers is becoming a more common way to onboard new talent. They can provide your team with a fresh perspective as well as excellent skills. You should develop an effective onboarding process to make the transition easier.

It’s important to ensure that remote hires are comfortable, well-informed, and made to feel welcome. Document and improve your onboarding process as you move forward. Your new hires will be happier, more engaged, and more likely to remain with the company.

Effective onboarding practices will be a more productive experience for your company and your virtual employees.

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