4 Tips for Onboarding Remote Employees

To adapt to new jobs, new employees need to undergo an onboarding program. Without it, they will have a hard time getting to know both their co-workers and their tasks. Local hires are usually welcomed in person so that employers can answer their questions and make introductions. However, remote workers usually have a less engaging orientation.

As the barrier of physical distance makes communication challenging, remote workers cannot adapt to their new environment that easily. Let´s take a look at why onboarding is important and what you can do to implement that process for your remote workers.

The importance of onboarding

Internet technology has brought about immediate communication over great distances, whether through chat or video conference. This has led to more and more organizations hiring virtual employees – the talent pool has widened and that’s a great thing. However, it can be a struggle to onboard people from different cultures and time zones and sustain them as contributing employees. Employers find that remote workers tend to experience decreased involvement, so it’s important to provide a proper onboarding process that makes them feel more relaxed and integral to the team.

Onboarding new hires involves introducing them to the work environment, colleagues, and business processes. Here are some best practices you can follow to make onboarding remote employees more effective.

1. Meet face-to-face

If it’s possible, consider bringing remote employees to the head office for the first week of orientation and training. At the least, use video conferencing to include them in meetings. Matching a face to the voice is important because it provides an opportunity to make eye contact and observe body language. That way, conversations become more meaningful and it’s easier to build relationships. When bonds are built and strengthened, remote workers feel more comfortable about asking questions and are more likely to become engaged.

You could also give remote workers a virtual tour through the office. Have co-workers welcome the new hires and encourage them to open communication to keep them from feeling isolated.

2. Be clear on what you expect

Communicate your expectations to new hires so they can direct their efforts effectively. Discuss your company’s organizational values, team objectives, and individual responsibilities. Confirm from new hires that they understand what needs to be done – this will give them sufficient confidence and focus when they begin completing their first tasks.

You should also explain how to use the tools and systems they’ll be working with, how to engage with key figures, and how to access resources. Work out timetables for team meetings and communications that take into account the remote worker’s time zone. Don’t forget to document and share these processes for future reference.

3. Assign a mentor

Telecommuting is a drastic change from the shared workspace and it takes some time for remote workers to adapt. The best way to ensure that they fit in is to promote a healthy company culture where ideas and experiences are shared freely. As part of onboarding, pair the new hire with a mentor who can coach them on procedures and who will always be there when they have questions and dilemmas.

This will enable a healthy relationship that leads to other avenues of communication. When remote workers feel they have adequate support, they will be more satisfied and their productivity will more likely blossom.

In addition, make sure that the rest of the team accepts and understands the role of the new hire. You can also connect them with other members of the team over the first few weeks to provide opportunities to learn more about the workflow, business goals, and everything else.

4. Assess and improve the process

All processes require continual assessment and improvement, so make sure to always evaluate and refine the onboarding process in your company. Use your instincts and don’t be afraid to experiment, but place special emphasis on gathering feedback from the new hires.

Once new employees have undergone a period of adjustment, ask for their views on the onboarding process. Make note of their observations and use them to improve the program and make onboarding even better for new remote workers that will potentially join your company. By constantly evaluating and improving your program, you make it easier for new hires to become acclimated and productive.

Final thoughts

Employees with top skills may be outside your local area. A solid program for onboarding remote workers will make them adapt with as little stress as possible, so make sure to have one.

Try to meet your new hires and introduce them to the team. Let them know your expectations, and assign a mentor who can help them at all times. It’s important to establish relationships so that remote employees feel involved. It is also important to constantly evaluate your onboarding program in order to make it even better. Establishing an effective onboarding program provides lasting benefits not only to the new hire but also to the entire company.

About the author: Jill Phillips is a freelance writer from Buffalo, NY. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and tech enthusiast, who loves to share her insight on various topics. When she is not writing, Jill enjoys taking photos and hiking with her dog. Connect with Jill via Twitter @jillphlps

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