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Onboarding Remote Employees
11 May 2020
We understand that the current times are tough, but don't let that stop you from building a winning team from home! Businesses all over the world are remote working and now require to onboard new employees via an alternative process. Face-to-face meetings are a thing of the past and it is uncertain how long this new way of life will last, that's why it's so important to be aware of how to onboard new additions to ensure their role commences smoothly and on a positive note.
We explore our perspective on how you can successfully onboard a new employee to your organisation from the initial preparation stage to the retention and development.
One of the most crucial stages of onboarding is preparation! If you think you're underprepared, your new onboard will most likely think the same, which doesn't get you off to a great start. Make sure a computer or laptop is set up and gather any other hardware such as a mobile phone or headset to ensure they have all the tools to get started. You should also check in with your IT team to confirm that all the relevant software is installed and you have a secure note of their new passwords.
In this day and age, being digital is essential. Spend some time creating an easy to access database to store your new member's job description, a staff handbook, training material and all the other little things you would usually share with a new start. Sharing platforms such as OneDrive is a great addition to your organisation, remote working or not and is very secure and simple to use!
Send a warm welcome to your new onboard to make them feel at ease. This is your first chance to make a lasting impression on your new team member and reassure them that they have made the right decision in joining your organisation. You should make sure they feel welcome, confident to get started and know that they are a great new asset to the company.
Take time to talk through your new hire's job description and highlight key areas that they will primarily be focusing on in their first few weeks. At this stage, you should also guide them through where all of their training documents are saved, how to access them and provide some clarity on the areas they should tackle first. Without meeting anyone via the normal workplace introduction, it's important to also take this opportunity to chat them through the rest of the team and what each person does, letting them know who they will be working closely with and who may be able to help with queries. Don't forget to make them aware of company traditions such as virtual team lunches on a Friday, so that they aren't left out of the loop and get a feel for the company culture!
Remote working can be an easy transition if you have been with the company for a while and met everyone face to face on numerous occasions, however starting fresh and immediately jumping into working from home can be challenging in terms of meeting the rest of the team. A great exercise to implement would be to encourage your current employees to have a one to one catch up with the new addition individually, allowing them to explain what their role in the business is and get to know them on a personal level. This way is far less daunting to newcomers than jumping right into a large team meeting in their first week.
Having a reliable and simple communication platform is therefore absolutely essential to a successful remote working team. The Stafffinders team would recommend the Microsoft Teams platform as it offers team video calls, instant messaging, share files and so much more. You should try and schedule in meetings for their first few weeks to encourage them to get to know you and the rest of the team as soon as possible.
Make sure you have a realistic plan and clear set of actions for your new hire to work on over their first few weeks. Remember that they will be adjusting to a new role, engaging with different co-workers and perhaps taking on fresh responsibilities, so be patient and chat them through each task if need be. You may want to ask other employees to explain certain processes and resources to them, which will get the team working more collaboratively and keep communication levels high.
At this stage, it's important to take into consideration your new hire's home life too. Maybe they are juggling the kid's schoolwork or just need that extra bit of flexibility to adjust to their new working from home scenario. Show them that you are willing to support their current needs and be mindful that everyone works at their own pace.
Starting a new role can be an overwhelming process in order to get up to speed with a new organisations processes, software and practices, never mind commencing a new role from home! Remember that they don't have anyone that could pop over to their desk to explain something, so being patient and offering as much help as possible is key. Check up on them every few hours to make sure they are coping with the assignments and let them know who they can get in touch with for help.
Using a platform such as Trello is a fantastic way to monitor your employee's key responsibilities and progress. This allows you to set a deadline date, who is responsible for each task and identify when they have completed each project. You may notice your new onboard is falling behind or even more so flying through the tasks. At this stage, it's important to evaluate how you can support them on tasks they are struggling with, or make sure they have more projects in the pipeline if they are meeting all the given requirements.
After a few weeks of working, you will probably understand your new employee's strengths and weaknesses. It's important to keep an eye on these so that you can offer training if needed and development opportunities to keep their skills up to scratch and help them perform their job more efficiently. Give your new onboard feedback on how they have tackled their first few weeks with you and what areas they could potentially improve on for future. You should re-define their short and long-term goals, and begin to discuss the larger projects they can commence with more independently. Hopefully by now, your new onboard won't feel so 'new' anymore and is a valued member of your professional team!
Remote onboarding can be daunting and it can be challenging to achieve a smooth process when working from home. Try to action all of the above points like you would if you were in an office situation and use technology to its fullest advantage throughout these times. Asking for feedback is also a great way to improve this process for the future, by asking them how their first few weeks have been, how the transition process could be easier and if they could recommend doing anything differently. Everyone is learning at this stage, but once you've mastered the onboarding process for remote workers it will become second nature, and won't feel as daunting when building your team even more.