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Remote onboarding made easy with these tips

(Image credit: Image Credit: Gpointstudio / Shutterstock)

Businesses are experiencing shifts in the working norms and landscape like never before. Workplaces that offer a collaborative atmosphere and also caters to the environmental wellness of employees is the new norm. Remote work- that is the present of work culture has become a necessity rather than just a workplace fad is another norm companies are getting accustomed to.

Work flexibility provides the liberty to work from home and benefits the organisations in a plethora of ways. Increased productivity, reduced investment costs on office space, ability to hire the best talent across the globe and better work-life balance are some of these advantages. Owing to the benefits and the current global crisis, this offsite work trend is likely to increase down the line.

While hiring new remote workers, employers need to ensure an efficient onboarding process because as they say, the first impression is the last impression! Since the walk-through of the office space, setting up the cubicle, the grand onboarding that sets the tone for the remote workers is just a dream, it's important that you enhance their remote-joining experience. After all, they are becoming a part of your organisation.

So, let's focus on making their experience better and memorable! Here are the tips you can leverage to do so:

A. Start with the basics

Before you welcome the newcomer to your firm, there are certain things you need to keep in mind when hiring them virtually. First and foremost, remote work is not the same as onsite work. Everyone does not fit the criteria to manage a remote team or be a part of one. Thus ensure that the new employee is one, action-oriented which means that in circumstances where someone is not assigning him/her tasks, he/she will still get something done. Two, which is the most essential element trust! If you are constantly micromanaging the person on the other end, you will see the gradual loss in productivity.

B. Introduce the team

Remote work’s success is a two-way process where employees and employers both need to work in coordination. After ensuring that your candidate has these soft skills in addition to the other competencies, it is time to onboard him/her! Now that you know you can’t show them through your brick and mortar offices, you can give a virtual walk-through by handing over the employee handbook. This will help them know your company better, understand your company’s policies and guidelines before they start. Next thing you can do is set up their office email, provide access to your data-repository and also explain to them other existing internal systems of your office. This will familiarise them with your workplace way of functioning and the team hierarchy and dynamics.

Often remote workers feel out of place or detached from the team if there is no communication. This can create silos in the future. Note that communication and collaboration are the building blocks of an empowered team. Thus ensure that you are helping the remote employee become the part of the community and get the sense of belonging.

Technology has eased out your task here. There are ample video conferencing tools available to seamlessly communicate with the dispersed team. So, set up a call and introduce the newcomer to the team. Give them a chance to know each other. This will ease them in and help them understand everyone’s role and responsibilities. The employee will get an idea about who he/she is going to work closely with based on their roles and who he can reach out to in case of ambiguities.

C. Assign a ‘buddy’

It takes time for an employee to get accustomed to your firm’s work culture and policies. While doing so, it’s natural that they will have several doubts and questions about your company’s rules and regulations, policies. It can even be about the tools you use for different purposes and their own roles and responsibilities. Unfortunately, often employees feel uncertain as to who they should approach to solve these queries especially when they are working remotely.

To make it convenient for them, set up a “buddy” program. This program means that you are assigning a buddy or a go-to person for the newcomers. The buddy will then address all the doubts and will act as a mentor for the new hire. At the same time, ensure to free up the buddy from other tasks so that they aren’t overworked juggling between their usual activities and being a mentor. This entire process makes it hassle-free for the remote workers to get acquainted to the company’s norms and make their way around it. They can also gain mastery in their work seeking the buddy’s help which will eventually help them enhance their efficiency and do justice to their role.

D. Set clear expectations and goals

What do the new hires expect from the onboarding process? They expect to know what are the company’s goals and vision so that they can channelize their energy and skills in the right direction. Managers should conduct a one-to-one session with the new remote workers to give them a walk-through of their firm, what are the goals and vision and how will their work contribute to achieve it.

Of course, this session is not just about conveying the goals, it’s more about getting to know your employee. You can ask about what do they expect from the team and the firm, what are their job goals, and also how do they come around the work-life balance. This simple conversation will tell you a lot about their time management skills, their long-term goals and their forte which you can then utilise to complete essential tasks. When you stay clear of your expectations, they can hit the ground off running and stay productive.

E. Schedule online training with experts

Onboarding a new employee is more of a process than a one-day job. It takes time for them to get an insight into your business and your process. Thus, it’s your job to help them get clarity on your products, the projects you undertake, and the tools that you use and more. This is simpler when you have them working at your brick and mortar offices. How do you ensure they are getting their way around when teleworking? You can leverage the advanced tech tools and schedule online training sessions with experts.

These training sessions will give them a clear-cut understanding of your products and projects. They will get clarity on each aspect and then you can also test them to know their progress, their strengths and weaknesses. This practice also enables you to know where their potential lies and what needs to be worked on. Besides these products, every firm has their own tool repository. Even though you think the new workers know their way with technology, you should give them a walkthrough of your tools and software. You can do this via video conferencing and screen sharing to make it easy.

F. Daily and Weekly check-ins

The new hires have certain expectations from the higher-ups. To begin with, they expect to be heard. They might face some difficulties during the training sessions or might want to understand the policies better. Or even on a personal front, , the anxiety and nervousness that comes along with the excitement of starting a new job needs to be catered to.  You can schedule daily or weekly one-on-one meetings with them to know what challenges they are facing or if there is anything that needs your attention.

You can also exchange feedback in this session. That means when you are making an effort to understand their experience so far, you can also give them feedback on their performance. You can share general tips on productivity, time management or anything specific to their role. These daily check-ins will develop trust between you and them across the geographical distance and will also give them a sense of responsibility as they know their progress is being monitored.

The round-up

Employees are the backbone of an organisation. Their work and performance decide the project’s outcome and success. It’s therefore important that you cater to their needs and give them a fruitful start. Whatever they grasp and learn in these initial stages will set the course for the longer run. The above-mentioned tips will help you set the tone for newcomers and help them begin the work with zest and confidence. In fact, a Gallup study states that “When employees can strongly agree that their onboarding process was exceptional, they are nearly 2 times more likely to feel fully prepared to excel in their new role”. Thus, make sure you give them a phenomenal experience!

Mahendra Gupta, PMP certified project consultant and Business director, Saviom Software

Mahendra Gupta is a PMP certified expert on workforce management and resource scheduling solutions. He currently directs Saviom Software's research and development wing and can be reached on LinkedIn.