Onboarding employees can be challenging enough even if carried out physically however onboarding an employee remotely can naturally present additional challenges such as technology, interaction, and team building.
You may be onboarding an employee by opening a new branch in a different region, via a satellite office or recruiting remote workers. Whatever the reason for onboarding may be, the first and most crucial step to take is to offer the new employee a warm welcome. First impressions are a big deal and if you perfect this step then your new employee is likely to have a positive view of the company and its culture and will feel more comfortable approaching colleagues. You could do this by introducing the new employee to the team including some comments that the employee has written about themselves.
To make your onboarding process as seamless as possible, we have summarised our top tips and tools for you to consider:
Think about using software such as DocuSign and HelloSign to sign paperwork including the contract, new starter checklist and any policies. You should also provide the employee with a digital staff handbook and advise them to read through this so that they can familiarise themselves with the company’s policies and procedures.
Ahead of the employee’s start date, you should ensure that all the necessary IT equipment and other hardware are delivered to the employee. Most of all, you must ensure that the employee has access to the company’s software including all their login details, security guidelines and contact details of the company’s IT team or external IT provider in the event of a problem. This point is particularly important for companies that operate a Bring Your Own Device policy (BYOD).
Involvement, Collaboration and Interaction
Since remote employees are missing the most vital aspect of a team’s culture by not physically being at the company’s office, you will need to think of innovative ways for them to interact with their colleagues and how you can encourage this. For example, regular one-to-one’s and team catch-ups via Microsoft Teams/ Zoom, virtual chats for non-work related chats, arranging group projects and so on. Use your initiative on how to get remote employees involved based on the type of work that they do because if the employee does not feel integrated or involved it could easily lead to a sense of isolation and low morale.
Outings and get-togethers
This may not always be possible or realistic especially if the employee is based in a different country. If possible, arrange for an office visit for the employee and schedule other events throughout the day such as a lunch outing, a team building exercise or so on. You could invite the employee to a company-sponsored team event, a casual gathering or other team-building ventures such as a yearly retreat. Even if the employee is unable to attend, simply the act of sending the invitation is likely to be regarded as a big gesture and will make them feel more included.
Out of sight but top of mind
Given the very nature of remote working, you should make a conscious effort to show employees that they are very much regarded as part of the team despite not physically being at the office. If there is anything going on that is directly relevant to their role or expertise, you should reach out to them to discuss any ideas or to get their opinion on a particular matter which will make them feel valued.
We appreciate that there is a lot of information to take into account when onboarding an employee and you may wish to compile a checklist to allow for a smoother transition. If you have any queries or would like a general discussion about onboarding remote employees, then please get in touch with our Employment team.