5 Practical Tips on How to Onboard Remote Employees

In our turbulent times, there have been massive shifts in workforce distribution and employment models. The hiring madness, especially in IT, has reached such a fervent pitch that even national broadsheets are now paying attention. For example,  the recent CodinGame’s Tech Hiring Survey predicts a major shortage of software developers in 2022.

With this in mind, many companies are now switching to hiring remote international talents, often working from other cities or countries. But even among domestic employees, 72% would prefer a mix of remote and office work, according to a recent survey by Slack.

Virtual onboarding has, therefore, become a common practice. According to Harvard Business Review, an efficient onboarding process might increase new hire retention rate by 50% and boost their productivity by more than 60%.

However, there are some nuances to be considered about virtual onboarding as compared to inviting a new hire in person to the office. Today, we’ll share a few non-obvious tips on how you can successfully adapt newcomers to your company if they are remote employees.

Remote Employees! Get ready before day one — remotely

The first day or two are the most crucial for an employee in the onboarding period. Therefore, it is exactly the time when you can impact new hires and their impression of the new job most significantly. This is important because the competition is huge, and those who can provide talents with greater assistance and support will win over those who just follow the standard guidelines. That is why it’s essential to deliver a positive experience where everything goes smoothly and as expected.

To make a new employee’s first day at the company as positive as possible, it’s best to take care of such things as equipment, software, and access in advance, as well as prepare all the necessary paperwork and coordinate the work schedule. In a remote format, this may require more time and resources. While you can sign documents online nowadays, equipment is something that has to be shipped. Otherwise, consider paying an onboarding bonus so that your new employee can arrange a set up on their own.

If all of these tasks are resolved in advance, on the workday, the employee can immediately begin to get acquainted with the team and work tasks, rather than waste time on administrative issues and software installation and configuration.

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Provide psychological support and cultural adaptation to remote employees

Apart from providing a new hire with all the necessary equipment and tools, it’s also crucial that the employer organizes social onboarding. And while newcomers are usually introduced to the key teammates they will be working with, psychological support and cultural adaptation often go overlooked—especially when it comes to remote work.

In this case, new employees have to figure out on their own what the unspoken rules in the company are and where to go if help is needed. Although this can be a rather trivial task for an outgoing person, more reserved or introverted employees might find it difficult and feel uncomfortable or even frustrated.

To avoid such problems, it’s highly important to attach a supervisor and/or a buddy to the new hire so that they can have someone to go to if they have any concerns or questions. A supervisor is responsible for making sure the newcomers are well adapted to the company and get everything they require for productive work, while a buddy can introduce them to more informal parts of corporate life.

Reduce stress with a transparent onboarding process

A new employee needs to understand right from the start what their job will be and what the management’s expectations are. On the other hand, the employee’s supervisor should have a clear understanding of how the adaptation process is going and the ability to track progress. This becomes especially critical when the work is done remotely since most of the time the employee is left on their own.

Therefore, it’s really useful to have an onboarding plan covering the entire adaptation period. This process includes numerous steps, from filling out forms and signing in for payroll and insurance to accessing corporate resources, learning information about the company and getting acquainted with the team. Step-by-step guidelines or checklists can prevent onboarding from going off the rails and significantly reduce new hires’ confusion and frustration.

The manager’s or supervisor’s task is to clearly outline the scope of work for the employee’s probation period so that they understand what’s expected of them. It is also worth making sure that the new hire is familiar with what their current role and responsibilities are and how their performance will be assessed.

Offer welcome kits to remote employees

Usually, in the first few days, an employee gets acquainted with the inner structure of the company, its processes, and corporate culture. Apart from a shared knowledge base or a corporate portal providing basic information about the company and corporate life, welcome kits can greatly simplify the adaptation process.

For example, if a new hire is relocating, you might include a list of local groups, Slack or FB chats, tips on how to open a bank account or choose a kindergarten, and many more. There are a lot of free or inexpensive tools for creating such a welcome kit: for example, you can make a board in Trello or a page with materials and checklists in Notion.

For remote employees, you can offer additional training or workshops—according to the TalentLMS survey, 61% of remote workers need more training to do their jobs better. You might also consider sending new remote employees some brand merch along with the equipment, such as a branded mug or a mouse pad, etc. This will certainly make them feel welcome.

Use writing assistants for better communication

Last but not least is ensuring that new employees don’t have any problems with inner and outer communication. Because plenty of businesses have now shifted to remote work, this allowed many talented non-native speakers from all over the world to join international companies.

However, one significant issue that might affect successful work and communication among international employees, which is the English language proficiency level. According to recent research, 90% of respondents think English writing skills directly affect their career.

Using AI-powered writing assistants has proven to be quite efficient in quickly improving the quality of business writing. By checking their emails, documents, and copies with tools like these, your new employees can make sure there are no grammar, punctuation, syntax, or stylistic errors, let alone typos, which makes their communication more efficient.

New times demand new onboarding

The onboarding process is an essential part of a company’s growth and sustainable development since it helps newcomers quickly adapt and engage in teamwork. Instead of having to figure out how to do this or that, employees can be guided through the entire process and won’t miss any important steps.

A lot of new talents will be available on the market due to the turbulent times. And companies that can provide the fastest onboarding and other “perks” like wire to bank accounts, tools to learn and communicate in English are going to win.

[To share your insights with us, please write to sghosh@martechseries.com]

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