Keys to Onboarding Success: How to Onboard Remote Employees

By this point I’m sure you know a structured and personalized onboarding process greatly benefits your new hire and your business. But one type of employee can be overlooked in the onboarding process, and that is remote workers. According to the New York Times, 43 percent of Americans work remotely some of the time, and 31 percent work remotely four to five days per week. If your company allows employees to work remotely, or hires remote workers, you can’t afford to leave them out of your onboarding process. Let’s examine a few tips to properly onboard remote employees.

Establish points of contact

As a former full-time remote worker, I can attest to the benefits and cons of this new work style. Remote work can lead to increased productivity and personal responsibility, but it does reduce important communication and the sense of being connected to your fellow employees. That’s why it’s crucial to provide points of contact to your new remote employee.

  • Introduce new remote workers to your team

If you have an office and it’s feasible to bring your new remote employee to the building, make a point to provide training and introductions in-person. This way, they’ll feel more connected to your business and their team members. If they can’t come into the office, host a skype call with all the members of their department and have everyone introduce themselves. The more time the new hire gets to put a face to the name of their team members, the more they’ll feel connected to your business.

  • Use technology to stay connected

Remote employees need to be able to connect with you when they have an important question. There are a number of tools to help you and your new hire communicate; from slack to skype to google chat, pick your favorites and encourage remote employees to use them. Communication doesn’t have to be constant, but it does have to be accessible.

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Organize your onboarding process

Time is of the essence when training remote employees. If you have the luxury of bringing remote workers into the office for training, you have to maximize the amount of time you have. It becomes a much more arduous process for them to sign documents, complete training, and have their questions answered. Thankfully, modern onboarding software simplifies new hire paperwork and lets new employees complete a majority of their documentation before their official start date. This is an enormous benefit for remote employees and drastically reduces headaches on all sides of the onboarding process.

Stay in touch and provide feedback

An unfortunate reality of remote work is the lack of feedback in the moment it is necessary. It stunts employee growth and managers may become frustrated by missed expectations. Yet all the while, the remote employee is left in the dark because a manager felt a skype call would have been too awkward. You can reduce missed expectations by staying in touch with your new employee after onboarding is complete. Note specific dates a week, a month, and even three months out to speak again about expectations and how their remote experience is going.

  • Clearly state work times

We don’t think twice about an office coworker being away from their desk momentarily at 11 or 3pm, but if you send a message to your remote worker at 2:30 and don’t hear back immediately, you might become suspect of their performance. It’s these type of situations that lead to frustration and moments of misunderstanding. During onboarding, clearly state when you expect your remote employee to be working, when their deadlines are, and any other company guidelines to reduce misunderstandings.

  • Set performance goals

Remote employees want performance reviews as much as your office workers. Well, I don’t know if they’re excited about performance reviews, but you can help them progress in your company by helping them set, accomplish, and review goals. Performance management software helps keep employees and supervisors on the same page about key objectives and competencies.

Remote employees need more than just a packet filled with your company handbook and benefits information. A guided, structured onboarding process will help you nurture strong employees and ensure remote workers stay connected to your business.