Going Long-Distance: Three Best Practices for Onboarding Remote Employees

Speaking to recent events, the escalation of COVID-19 (also known as the coronavirus) has pushed many workplaces to adopt new work arrangements for the purpose of self-isolation and social distancing. That means the majority of a company’s operations are being carried out online and remotely from a traditional office setting – onboarding included.

Even if you’re hiring for a position that is located miles away or being in a situation where you have no choice but to work from home, a proper onboarding strategy is still a must for good employee experience. The main goal of onboarding is to help your new hires acclimate to their new work environment and familiarize themselves with the company culture. Given how virtual employees are physically elsewhere, these goals are harder to achieve as compared to the natural face-time they would get in the office.

Missing the opportunities to bond face-to-face with your teammates can lead to a different experience. Therefore, as the HR director or the department manager, ensuring your new hires experience the same levels of hospitality, communication, and training is key.

Use the Right Tools

Thanks to the convenience of technology, many job functions can be operated and managed digitally with ease. An example would be an onboarding software like 321 Forms, which allows new hires to fill out and sign any important paperwork online. Moreso than anyone else in the company, remote workers are also more likely to require additional equipment to help them succeed. Listen to their needs, and provide them with access to software that will optimize their efficiency.

Communication is Key

As with any employee initiatives, good communication is the backbone of a successful business. 72% of employees considered private time with their direct manager the most important part of any onboarding process. Employees appreciate it when leaders clearly communicate their expectations and schedule one-on-one meetings to discuss their performance. It is common for new hires as well (remote workers especially) to feel lost and distracted during the beginning stages. Organize training sessions with them through video conferences where you can chat face-to-face or share screens. To keep the momentum going, creating a timetable with a few deadlines can provide even better guidance.

Celebrate Your Company Culture

Just because you’re not physically side-by-side, it doesn’t mean your company culture can’t be extended to them. There are many innovative ways to keep remote employees happy and involved, despite the distance apart.

  • Mail them a company swag package containing branded T-shirts, pens, or mugs
  • Order food delivery to their remote workspaces on their first day as a welcome lunch
  • Organize online team-building activities, such as Virtual Beer Fridays or game sessions

Onboarding remote new hires can feel challenging when you can’t interact with them in person. That should, however, give you an even greater purpose to make them feel welcomed and comfortable, as you would for any regular hires.