Remote onboarding - tips for onboarding and managing remote employees.

Rachel Lee
September 14, 2021

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Remote onboarding - tips for onboarding and managing remote employees.

Remote onboarding is becoming increasingly more common. While the COVID19 lockdown restrictions suddenly forced many companies to induct new hires remotely, there was already a growing trend towards it. The world, even before COVID19, was becoming far more integrated as a result of digitalization and technological changes. 

That does not make remote onboarding necessarily straightforward however. Many managers still will not have had to onboard a new hire remotely. Here, we look at the remote onboarding process so that managers can more successfully carry out virtual onboarding each and every time they have a new starter on their team. 

What is onboarding process for remote employees? 

It is vital to be able to ingratiate a new employee as quickly as possibly to a wider team so that new employees can hit the ground running. Remote onboarding means that the new team member does not have access to the traditional tools they may otherwise have had when first starting at a company. Namely, face to face meetings, water cooler chats and simply reaching out to a team member for a quick answer to a quick query. A thorough remote onboarding process should therefore be conducted each time a team new hire starts - regardless of role. 

Fully understanding what a robust onboarding process for remote employees is, is key to carrying out an effective onboarding process yourself. In short, such a process should include a number of different activities that gives new hires all the tools and information they need to conduct their role. Introducing them to any company specific software is a good example, as well as giving them an extensive run through of any important processes their role requires is vital too. 

However, it also includes inducting them in such a way that they get onboard with the company’s culture and ethos. Doing so will thus mean introducing them to all team members so they know what each of their team does - and how. Trying to find a balance between formal and informal meetings and catch ups can also help a remote new hire overcome the difficulties of being geographically separated from their team. Onboarding and inducting should also be seen as a continual process for the time it takes a new hire to feel settled within a team and wider company. 

How to manage the process of onboarding remote employees?

While knowing what a remote onboarding process is, knowing how to manage one is also vital. So how can that be done effectively? 

Firstly, open up lines of communication. Highlight to your new hire how best to contact you and other team members. Encourage team members to reach out to the new hire as well. Suggest ways that are a good way to do so. Identify what software package is used to talk or chat with a wider team. 

Plus, when it comes to communication, emphasise that it is a two way street. Your new hire needs to know they can approach you with aspects of the role they are finding difficult. By opening up lines of communication, you will also be making a space for helpful feedback. This is key in the process of onboarding remote employees - particularly if you are new to it. It will mean you can tweak and amend your process as and when you need to. 

Other useful ideas would be to set out a clear plan for your new hire for the first two weeks of their time with your company. Giving them a timetable helps a new hire know what they are doing at all times, which can stop them from floundering. In those two weeks, some managers may advocate giving a new hire a small but manageable project. Getting such a project helps them improve confidence, as well as get used to how your company runs. 

What to remember in a remote onboarding and managing remote employees 

There are a number of key ideas that should be remembered in a remote onboarding, as well as in the wider task of managing remote employees. Perhaps one of the easiest wins for any manager is to be clear. Clarity and simplicity through an onboarding process will help a new hire start their new role with confidence. While complexity in some areas will be impossible to avoid, staying clear in goals and setting targets is important for both new hires and existing team members. 

Additionally, managers should look to leverage technology to its best advantage. Remote collaboration tools are developing all the time to help teams achieve a collective goal. Leveraging software and making use of all of a software package’s tools can materially help a team’s productivity - whether they are new hires or longstanding employees. Training and inductions to remote collaboration tools are therefore helpful so that everyone in a team can utilise the technology available that will help them produce output more efficiently. 

Managing remote employees should be what the overall onboarding process evolves into. To ensure that an employee is happy and achieving their very best, a manager should diarise regular one to one catch ups with each team member. Doing so will provide a space where both can discuss any issues that may have arisen or highlight areas of success. 

Remote onboarding - Overall takeaways 

Remote onboarding is a process which we all need to be comfortable with. It will become even more commonplace, if not the norm as the world moves to an even more digitized space. The process is important to understand fully as doing so will result in an effective onboarding overall. Whether you are running the process, are a new employee or simply part of a team with a new hire starting, optimising the remote onboarding process will help improve overall employee satisfaction. The result is improved employee retention which ultimately helps a company’s productivity.

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