How to Onboard Your New Remote Employee

Onboarding is the single most important step after recruiting your new employee. In a remote setting, however, it can be a hassle.

You need to consider everything you would do when carrying out the employee onboarding process in an office setting and then think about the challenges of remote work that includes things like time zones, apps disconnecting, amongst others.

Over at Process Street, we have tried the methods in this post and we know they work. They have been used for new hires and existing members of the team. It helps our team communicate with new colleagues much easier and we’ve decided to tell you what works for us. Read on to find out.

Set expectations from the word ‘go’

In an office job, you show up at the office on your first day and then you’re told what to do and where to go. The question is, how do you show up for your first day at a remote job? 

Whether the employee has worked in a remote setting before or not, it can still be an unclear process. The only way to make sure your new hire hits the ground running is to communicate expectations clearly

Start with a voice call using a tool like Skype and explain:

  •  The process they will follow
  • The tools they will use (including login details)
  • The targets they’re expected to meet
  • Their first major project

Providing all this info in advance will save time in the future and avoids confusion during the onboarding process.

To make sure that a new hire’s targets are met on time, establish a suitable meeting time with them to talk about their work.

Following up can be a key part when you’re setting expectations, ensuring the new start understood you properly and can hit the ground running. Summarize key points that were in the meeting and record it via email or a collaborative writing app.

Communicate early and often

One of the biggest challenges you will face when running a remote team is communication. This most definitely applies to new employees, as they don’t know (or forget) that regular text and voice communication can go a long way for them to get their work complete.

Without the iconic water cooler, your new employee may feel isolated from the team.

Encouraging constant communication could be the difference in your employee succeeding. Using a tool such as Slack, allows them to do this — Slack is great for general communication with its many channels and it takes the sincerity and formality away and lets their personality shine through. Have your current team speak to the new employee on their own time, encouraging communication.

Collaboration is necessary for team-building and productivity

Just like communication, collaboration can be a hurdle, either remote or within an office. Remote teams need to encourage collaboration to get work complete. There are a variety of tools out there that you can use to collaborate including:

Remote workers can feel left out because they’ve never physically collaborating with their coworkers. This could be because they’re shy and need a proper introduction, but could simply be a timezone issue. It’s easily fixed by seeing when working hours overlap with Every Time Zone and making an effort to welcome them.

Make them feel welcomed

Working for a remote company will be a big adjustment from an office based environment, especially for people who have never worked remote before.

When working alone at home or elsewhere, it can get lonely. So it’s crucial to make employees feel like a part of the team.

Break the ice by making announcements of a new hire through things such as team chats, emails, blogs and more.

When introducing the employee, make it sound non-formal, increasing friendliness throughout the team towards the new start. Assign your employee a ‘buddy’ or someone they can constantly ask advice from at the beginning so they don’t feel lonely or hesitant.

Support them on the learning curve

Once all of the paperwork has been completed and the new employee is up to speed on the company’s culture and policies, ensure that your new start clearly understands the process for transitioning out of orientation and into role-related work.

Before new workers jump into specific projects, be sure to clearly communicate expectations during the post-onboarding period. It’s highly unlikely for new employees to operate at full speed during their first month at a new company. It will take a while before they learn to improve their personal productivity in the new setting. Although, it’s important they understand that showing an eagerness to learn and adapt quickly will be expected.

To ensure they know how to get started on their first project:

  • schedule a meeting to discuss the ramping-up process
  • introduce new colleagues and managers
  • review clearly defined tasks.

Make it a priority to have periodic check-ins to manage their delivery pressure from orientation to bigger projects.

Final words on remote employee onboarding

So there you have it, onboarding a new remote employee can be difficult — but can be done. It is just one of the many challenges facing remote working, although it is worth it in the long run.

Always make sure there is constant communication with the new start and they understand the process and their goals in advance to avoid confusion down the line. Otherwise, after repeating yourself over and over again to a new hire, you will have wished that you took a different approach.

Benjamin Brandall is a British writer at Process Street. He writes on SaaS, productivity and startups. Get in touch with him here.

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