Onboarding is one of the most important moments for a new joiner when they start out in a new company. And this is even more so when that employee works remotely. Good remote onboarding practices helps employees understand the company’s philosophies, adjust to their new roles and get to know their fellow colleagues.
But if designing an onboarding flow is hard, it is even tougher for remote companies.
Without the traditional in-person welcome, batched orientation, IT training and lunch with their managers, how does HR ensure employees are onboarded well?
Why Is Proper Onboarding For Remote Employees Important?
Why is having a good onboarding process important?
The answer is simple – retention. Studies show that around 69% of employees will stay with a company long-term if they had a good onboarding experience.
The unfortunate fact is that a poor onboarding experience often leads to confusion and stress at the start of a new employee’s career. This in turn causes unnecessary tension and even makes them wonder if they made the right choice in employers! They might jump to premature conclusions and the initial belief could permeate through and magnify subsequent negative experiences.
This is especially the case for remote employees, as they lack the in-person interactions that can help convince them otherwise.
In contrast, good remote onboarding practices help a new employee transition into the new work environment more seamlessly. With the right training, they’ll be able to learn how the different processes and functions in the company work. They won’t be left feeling overwhelmed or stuck when they do not know how to proceed with problems.
So whether your company has always done onboarded new hires remotely, or you’ve just switched over to remote work, here are 5 effective remote onboarding best practices for new hires!
5 Effective Remote Onboarding Practices for New Hires
1. Set Up A Proper Onboarding Structure
Structures are what keeps any system from descending into chaos.
You’d want to set up a proper, step-by-step guide for onboarding a new employee. This not only ensures that they know what to expect, but also makes sure that the colleagues know the steps to make new teammates feel welcomed.
One must-have practice is to come up with a detailed guide or a checklist to keep track of the onboarding progress.
You’ll want to ensure that everything from introduction videos to how to handle different processes such as leave application is covered. Don’t miss out little items, such as how to set up Microsoft Outlook account at home or how to access the company database.
One great example of a good remote onboarding process is GitLab. They have onboarding templates which are managed by their People Experience Team, and they lay out all guidelines clearly on the company’s public wiki. This helps ensure that remote workers always have a source of reference when they are looking for answers.
It is also important to think carefully about how long employees need for their onboarding. It could take 2 weeks (as in the case of GitLab) to a month.
Within that period of time, allow the employee to familiarize themselves and learn as much as they can without the stress of work responsibilities. You can even set up training videos, simulations of calls with clients, or a list of courses they could take. Easing them into the process is a better way to get them started, rather than giving them deadlines from the start.
2. A Welcome Package
Welcome packages are always something employees look forward to when joining a new company. They are also a great remote onboarding practice.
For a holistic experience, remember to include a work laptop (with suitable accessories), reading materials from HR and swag in your welcome package.
While laptops are clearly essential, swag represents the fun part of being part of your company. Other than the requisite company t-shirt or mug, maybe you could include a thoughtful gift, like coffee capsules or even a little green plant. It’s a meaningful way to show employees that you care about them.
One reading material you’d want to include is the onboarding agenda. This way, new hires can be prepared when they start their first day. On that note, do also send out welcome packages once the hiring process is complete, before their first day of work. Giving a new employee a few days to prep helps them get ready and reduces any first-day jitters!
3. Assign A Welcome Buddy
A huge downside of remote working is the lack of organic interactions among colleagues. It is especially hard on new employees who do not know anyone. A great remote onboarding practice is therefore to assign a welcome buddy for each new hire.
This employee can be their go-to person to show the ropes on how to get a steady footing in the company. It’d be a plus if the buddy is someone who works within the same team, or someone they’ll work closely with. This will help the new employee uncover company dynamics faster than having to figure it out themselves.
Do make sure that the assigned buddy should not have too much on their plate to take on this role. The last thing a new employee need is a grumpy colleague who did not “sign up for this” in the first place. Get someone who would be happy to show them the ropes!
4. Have Regular Check Ins
One of the hardest things to do as a manager in a remote setting is to check up on your new hires. Without face to face interactions, it is diffiult to tell how they’re actually feeling or what their progress is.
A great remote onboarding practice is to schedule regular check-ins with your new hires. Set aside an hour once a week, to have a one on one “no-agenda” call with them. Give them a safe space to be able to relay the difficulties they may be facing at work, or even their wins.
From there, as a manager, you’ll be able to gauge what are their struggles and strengths are, and guide them accordingly.
Establishing a good relationship with your new hires is an important step to ensuring a smooth onboarding process. It is also a great way to keep up the morale of the team as a whole.
5. Create a Remote-Friendly Culture
Once the onboarding process is done, some employees (in particular those who are new to remote work) may still feel like a fish out of water.
This is your opportunity to create team-building activities that includes them, so they can build up informal relationships with the rest of their team mates. Even little things like a weekly virtual team lunch are a great remote onboarding practice to adopt.
Start on these practices today!
While it is never easy to design an onboarding flow, incorporating these practices within your current flow should help improve your new joiners’ experience.