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Remote work is taking the world by storm, touting plenty of benefits for both a company’s expense sheet and an employee’s wellbeing. COVID-19 fast-tracked adoption of remote work by many businesses, but this arrangement is likely to continue well into the future.
With this shift away from office-based work, managers are hiring and onboarding employees they have never met in-person. To be sure you provide your new team member with all they need to succeed, following is the ultimate checklist for onboarding remote employees.
Step 1: Prepare Paperwork
Paperwork, from the W-4 to the direct deposit form, is one of the most crucial yet tedious parts of the onboarding process. To relieve the pains of paperwork, it’s best to move on from antiquated methods.
You should no longer be asking your new employee to print a PDF, sign it, scan it, and send it back. This can be very time consuming and inefficient, and remote work is all about leveraging technology.
Step 2: Have Tech/Tools Ready for Them
Be sure you send your new employee all equipment (laptop, keyboard, phone) before their start date. That way, they have time to set up the equipment and can start working from day one.
You should also make sure that your IT team has created an online account for any software they need to do their job. It’s best practice to alert your IT specialist about the employee’s first day so they can be available on that day to assist with any tech malfunctions.
Schedule some time for your IT specialist to walk your new hire through the different technologies and software they’ll use. If you don’t have a dedicated IT person, partner the new hire with a power-user or someone on your team who is tech-savvy.
Step 3: Assign an Onboarding Buddy
To help alleviate any feelings of loneliness or awkwardness on the part of the new employee, partner them up with an onboarding buddy. This buddy will be their virtual point of contact whenever they have any questions or concerns as they’re learning the ropes.
Not only does this lighten your management workload, but it also can help make your new employee feel more at ease. It’s often easier for new hires to open up to a peer rather than to their manager when they have struggles or problems during the onboarding process.
Plus, assigning a buddy helps employees build relationships and trust, which will make the new employee feel more comfortable speaking up in virtual meetings and sharing their new ideas and perspectives.
Step 4: Hold a Virtual Orientation
Holding a virtual orientation for new employees is key. During this face-to-face online meeting, the manager should cover pertinent information, from the company policies to team-wide expectations.
Orientation sessions should include the following:
- Introduction – Tell them your story and how you define success as a team.
- Time off – Explain to them PTO, sick leave, etc.
- Paperwork – Your company should have a new-hire packet to give to the new employee.
- Employee handbook – Send a virtual copy of the handbook in advance of the meeting so they can take the time to ask any questions they may have.
- Contact Policy – Instruct them on how and when to reach you.
Describe a clear path for the new hire in a documented onboarding plan. This could be a 30, 60, or 90-day plan consisting of training activities and other milestones that new employees will need to complete during their first months of employment.
Lastly, it’s crucial to set expectations for your new employee. For example, when do you expect them to sign on to work? If they are a salesperson, what are their targets?
To make sure employees have a firm understanding of expectations, one option is to send over a “How to Work With Me” document that outlines your preferences. Some examples of what this document can include are:
- When do you want to hear from them?
- What are your preferred communication channels?
- What frustrates you?
- What do you consider a finished [insert a task, activity, or project type the new hire is responsible for]?
When you clearly lay out your expectations, you make it much easier for your employees to meet them.
Step 5: Introduce Them to the Team
It’s always important to make new employees feel welcome during the onboarding process, but this isn’t as straightforward when the team isn’t together in one place.
Whenever you make a new hire, one of the first things to do is let the rest of the team know. They should be informed about the new employee’s role, who they will be working with, and when they’ll be starting.
In order to introduce a new employee to a remote team, schedule a video conference welcome meeting where you and your team will introduce yourselves to the new employee. And don’t stop at just one meeting. 35% of remote workers report feeling lonely two to three days per week. Scheduling more meetings throughout the month will help your new hire increasingly integrate into your company culture.
It’s also important to encourage your current team members to interact with the new hire as much as possible during their first few weeks. One fun way to facilitate this communication is by having new hires fill out fun fact sheets with some information about themselves that you can share with the rest of the team.
Fun facts can range from their favorite late-night snack to their dream vacation. This allows current employees to get to know the new hire before they start and will help them find commonalities to break the ice.
In general, remember to make an effort to talk about subjects other than business. When employees start at a new office, they usually have opportunities to sit with you during lunch or chat during happy hours. But that’s not possible in the remote environment, so try to facilitate these informal interactions.
About the Author
Jamie Davidson is the Marketing Communications Manager for Vast Conference, a meeting solution providing HD-audio, video conferencing with screen sharing, and a mobile app to easily and reliably get work done.