The employment paperwork is complete. All technology and telecommuting systems are a go. Now what? Onboarding a new employee remotely may seem like a daunting task, but it is vital to building a lasting relationship. Focus on these areas to get your new remote employee up to speed on their role, the team, and the culture as quickly as possible.
Video is vital
Video will be a critical link between you and your new remote team member, especially during remote onboarding. On their first day, roll out the virtual welcome mat – an exaggerated effort is a good idea here. Schedule a welcome meeting with the entire team via Zoom or another video call platform. If possible, send a Welcome Aboard package ahead of time that might include some company swag or other items that brighten up their desk as a visual reminder of team membership. Some items to possibly include: a mug, water bottle, mouse pad, headset, or notepads. Also, include any employee manuals or technical guidelines that they might need. When onboarding new employees remotely, you want to go above and beyond to make sure they feel welcome.
Show them the ropes & set expectations
After the initial team call, use video and shared screens to walk through any insider info the new remote employee might need, like the corporate hierarchy, the team structure, and highlights about company culture. This would be a great time in the remote onboarding process to go over critical sections of the employee manual to familiarize them with company policies and procedures. Next, introduce team-specific guidelines. Discuss set work times and availability, response time, and productivity expectations. How do they check-in and sign out from work? Do they need to track hours? Cover the company goals, and how the team objectives support that, and how their specific role flows into the mission. Go over their role and their unique responsibilities, who they will be working with to achieve their deliverables. This is the time to put the weekly team status update on their calendar and set a standing 1:1 touch-base. Suggest holding these virtual meetings at either the end of the week or beginning, providing an opportunity to touch base on project progress, and clarifying the next steps for the upcoming or following week.
First 30 days
A key aspect of remote onboarding is clarifying how your new remote team member will be evaluated in the first thirty days of employment. What are the metrics of their success? Specify the performance review process and clarify the deliverables and deadlines coming up in the next month. Identify all the key players that will impact the new employee’s responsibilities, and set dates for introductions to each. Reinforce your availability to help them be successful as they start this leg of their career journey at the company.
Communicate more than ever
When employees are remote, there is no such thing as over-communicating. However, clarifying what gets communicated through which channel is critical. When does one use the phone, email, text or messaging, and for what: day-to-day minutiae, project specifics, feedback, managerial direction, cultural communication. Make sure you supply the new remote employee with any backup documentation they may need so they have key role and company-specific information at their fingertips. When onboarding a new employee remotely you want to ensure communication lines are always open.
Foster a sense of belonging not longing
Loneliness and isolation are real pitfalls of remote work. Make sure your new remote team member knows that you are always available if they need to reconnect and restore their spirits. Encourage that they establish a friendly rapport with teammates and support messaging among team members to foster friendships (as long as they don’t become a distraction – just like conversations around the water cooler in real life). Advise them to make sure they compartmentalize professional and personal life because the boundaries can easily get blurred when working from home. Your biggest challenge as a manager of remote employees will be in making sure that they stay productive and happy while feeling like they cohesively click into the company culture. Follow up with your new employee often after the remote onboarding process is over as they acclimate to the company. Get feedback on the remote onboarding process, and make changes and improvements as needed. The more effective your remote employees are, the more distance workers you might add. Imagine the pool of talent you’re able to access when no longer limited to the confines of a specific location.