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How to onboard remote employees

Onboarding is a key tool used by businesses to reduce turnover and increase productivity. Changes to the work environment as a result of the challenges presented by 2020 has made the process no less vital, but your onboarding process may need to change and adapt to new onboarding best-practices.

Onboarding a new hire is different from a general orientation program. Onboarding has more of a long-term focus and is more akin to mentoring. Orientation helps new workers understand how to do their job. Onboarding helps new hires integrate into the business by introducing them to coworkers, helping them understand work culture and channels of communication, among other things.

Most onboarding programs have been designed for in-person hires but even if your business no longer works out of a traditional office, remote employees still need to understand business practices and get to know those that they will be working with and feel connected and invested in your company.

Remote onboarding

Thanks to the 2020 lock-down, most businesses have become incredibly familiar with the use of video conferencing tools. While not ideal, there are a number of benefits to using the many online communication tools available including:

  • They provide a better means of communication than traditional emails.
  • They allow for better team-bonding and socializing than audio-only calls.
  • Tools often come with other built-in functions such as file-sharing and memos which can aid organization.

It goes without saying that despite the technologies available to businesses, they will never be a substitute for face-to-face communication. Some problems to be aware of, and try compensate for are:

  • Lack of face-to-face communication can make it difficult for new employees to integrate themselves into the team. Consider creating an open chat room for informal conversation or take some time out of your daily meetings to talk about life outside work.
  • It’s often the small things are hardest to pick up on. New hires may feel they are pestering others with a constant stream of little questions. Make sure to let them know that their questions aren’t a hindrance to your work.

Tips for onboarding remote employees

  1. Make a checklist

    Create a checklist to help guide new hires through their first few days and weeks. Make sure to check back regularly to monitor their progress and answer any questions they may have.

  2. Introductions

    Let your team know right away that you have hired someone new. You can even ask your new employee to send a quick video introduction of themselves to share with the team.

  3. Help remote employees set up their home office

    Even new hires with experience in remote working might have specific needs they need to do their job well. This might include hardware or software, etc.

  4. Mentoring

    Learning the ropes from someone with more experience and seniority can help new hires understand policies and practices. Remote mentoring, while a little less effective can still lead to higher employee engagement, less turnover and skill development.

  5. Provide an employee handbook

    Consider adding a handbook to the usual documentation sent to new employees. This may help them become more familiar with your organization and what is expected of them.

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