Onboarding Remotely: So Much More than Paperwork

Onboarding remote employees can be challenging, especially if you are onboarding virtually for the first time. Over the past year, companies have had to very quickly adapt to virtual management, hiring, and on-boarding. While offices are starting to reopen, remote work has become popular and experts say it may be here to stay. Mastering virtual onboarding may be the key in helping to widen your recruiting pool and ensure that all employees remain connected and successful. Here are some tips experts offer to make your virtual onboarding seamless:

Have a Plan.  Even more than in-person, virtual communication should be deliberate and focused. That means with onboarding you need to have a plan. Know how you will engage your new employee, how you will introduce them to the team, who you will schedule meetings with, and have a clear plan for training. Experts say this should go beyond the first week, ensuring that your new employee stays engaged and feels like a part of the team.

Provide Technology.  Your organization will likely provide technology to your remote employees, especially those just starting. Make sure your new hire has all of the technology needed to be successful and connect them with IT to ensure that they are adequately prepared and ready to start training. Beyond the access to technology, make sure they have the means to communicate with you, your team, and others in your organization. This could be an e-mail address, Slack username, etc. Be sure they have all appropriate accounts set up on their first day and can be a part of conversations easily.

Build Connection.  Building connection can be as simple as introducing them to your organizational culture; talk to them about what it means to be a part of the team, introduce them to their new coworkers, tell them about the history of your organization and maybe even provide a swag bag on their first day. Confirm that all appropriate trainings are scheduled and leave room for a more personal connection, provide a space where employees on your team can get to know the new hire, and help them to connect through happy hours, activities, or ice breakers at meetings.

Additionally, help your new employee feel connected through clearly communicating plans, projects, and expectations. Let them know what their training will look like and use tools like a shared calendar to ensure that their training is helpful and they’re not left on their own without anything to do.

Focus on Engagement.  No matter what your plan is for remote onboarding, it is important to make sure your employee feels engaged. While the first day may be full of paperwork, there is still room for connection. Help them navigate your benefits platform, fill out the necessary paperwork, and make sure they know how to get connected to HR. Beyond their first day, having a shared calendar and confirming their meetings with other key employees can help facilitated consistent and productive engagement.

Think Long-term.  Onboarding a new employee usually ends in the first week or two that the employee is with the company. After the paperwork is completed and training has begun it can be easy to move on with daily tasks, assuming the new employee has the support they need. In the office, support systems can happen more organically but virtually it may be hard for the new employee to connect with others and feel like an integral part of the team. Plan past the first few weeks and even months, check in with your employee, and build a plan to help continue connection. Schedule meetings and facilitate community with your team to ensure that your new employee feels included and always has a place to ask questions or voice concerns.

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