7 Tips to Successfully Onboard Remote Employees

A quick summary:

Devise a plan and start in advance πŸš€

Goal-setting is crucial for 30, 60 & 90 days πŸ†

Access to tools, platforms and more πŸ‘

Onboarding remote employees in groups 🀝

Open to employee feedback and questions 😊

Create opportunities to connect πŸ‘‹

The little things matter too πŸ’š

Who would've thought that remote employees could work so well before the pandemic hit? When the government encouraged businesses to operate from the comfort of our homes, we found out that working remotely gives employees so much flexibility and independence. Since then, more and more companies have been hiring people across the globe. They are looking for team members who own specific skills, regardless of their location.Β 

However, hiring remote employees comes with some onboarding challenges since remote onboarding is vastly different from in-office onboarding. This blog post will discuss how to successfully onboard remote teams and make the process as smooth as possible for you and any new talent.

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#1 Create a plan and start in advance

When you onboard a remote employee, the two most important things are creating a plan and starting in advance. This strategy will ensure that everything is ready for the new joiners on their first day, and it will give you time to answer any questions they may have. You should also include some team-building activities in your plan (such as virtual lunch on the new talent's first day) so that your new employee feels like they are part of the team from the start.

Keep in mind that remote employees may take longer to onboard. Start setting up the onboarding journey two weeks before the first day to avoid any stressful surprises and document your onboarding steps. This will help you track progress and evaluate your success.

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#2 Set goals for the first 30, 60, and 90 days

Define what the new hire needs to learn within a specific time frame after joining. Usually, the first 30 days are dedicated to getting to know the company, the product, the workflow, and the teams.Β 

Next, the first 60 days typically focus on becoming productive and hitting certain milestones. For example, customer service employees should achieve at least 4-star customer satisfaction. By having some goals defined from the start, you can avoid any confusion down the road and give the new joiners a sense of purpose.

Give your remote employees a small project where they need to work together with their co-workers. The benefits of this strategy are encouraging the new joiners to contribute, demonstrate their excellent skills, and get familiar with how the team works.

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#3 Give access to tools, accounts, and platforms

Your remote employees will need access to all the tools, accounts, and platforms to do their job from day one. Without this, you will hinder their productivity, making them feel like they are not supported. Make sure to give them access to everything a few days earlier as part of the preboarding journey, thus, allowing them to hit the ground running.

The standard tools/platforms include Slack, Google Suite, or your CRM software, but the tools will vary depending on the company and role. Ask their direct manager if you're unsure what to give them access to.

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#4 Onboard in groups

If you hire frequently or welcome more than one new talent within a short period, it's a good idea to have all the newcomers join and onboard at the same time. Not only will it make it easier for you to organise the onboarding, but the new joiners can also form groups. That said, try not to swamp your remote employees with too many people within the same onboarding process.

A good rule of thumb is to have no more than four new hires joining within the same timeframe. In this way, they can support each other but not feel overwhelmed.

For onboarding at start-ups, you can use your company's main communication channels, such as Microsoft Teams or Slack for onboarding. On the positive side, you don't have to acquire a specific onboarding tool. However, this strategy has some limitations. Some of them are manual progress tracking, setting up one task at a time, and no centralised sources to place all the learning materials.

As for mid-size to big companies, finding platforms that offer employee onboarding automation will ease the pain of manually setting up multiple onboarding processes. After organising the journey to run on auto-pilot, you can sit back, monitor the results, and reuse the templates for your next onboarding program.

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#5 Be open to feedback and questions

The first few days and weeks are crucial for you and the new remote employees. Pay attention to how they are settling in and if they have questions or feedback. Be open to suggestions to improve the onboarding process for future remote employees. Consider having a dedicated remote onboarding champion who can answer any questions.

Be there to support your new employees because this could be a breaking point between them staying or leaving you. If they feel like they can't succeed in their new role, they will look for other opportunities.

It is crucial to make sure that you dedicate your time to the new remote talents in the onboarding stage. It would be best if you had weekly check-ins with them to answer any questions and give feedback on their work progress. These check-ins will help you build a personal and professional relationship with your remote workers and ensure that they feel like their work is appreciated.

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#6 Provide opportunities for connecting

Working remotely can be lonely, and it's important to provide opportunities for your remote employees to connect with their colleagues. This can be done in several ways, for example:

  • Hosting regular 1-on-1 lunches or coffee dates via video conference meetings
  • Planning social events like happy hours or game nights
  • Encouraging people to join company-wide Slack channels

By providing opportunities for your remote employees to connect, you will help them reduce any feelings of isolation and improve their wellbeing.

It is also recommended to introduce your new hire to their team and other people they will work with within the first week. Ideally, they should attend an all-hands company meeting as well.Β 

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#7 Little things matters

Some simple yet personal things can make a big difference when it comes to remote onboarding. For example, something as simple as sending a handwritten note can go a long way in making your new remote employees feel personally welcomed. You can also consider sending them a company welcome gift, such as T-shirts or notebooks.

If you have a company policy of sending tech equipment for your team, send it in time and include something unique. Some ideas could be your CEO's favourite book, the team's favourite snack, or a delivery lunch on their first day–the options are endless.

These little touches will show your remote employees that you care about them on the individual level and support them to thrive in their new roles.

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Takeaways for onboarding remote employees

Onboarding remote employees can be challenging, but it is possible to do it successfully. By following the tips above, you will set your new hires up for success and help them feel like they come to the right place to build their careers. With the right approach, you can deliver an exceptional and effective onboarding experience for your remote workers.

Credit: Raisa Yogiaman is a content marketer at Zavvy - an employee enablement platform that combines employee experience with smart workflow automation. Her passion for HR and marketing can be found on Zavvy's blogs.