Remote Employee Onboarding: Developing An Effective Orientation For Your Newest Team Members

Fifty-eight percent of the companies admit that their onboarding program focuses on paperwork and processes. This explains why only 12 percent of employees believe that their workplace does an adequate job of onboarding new joinees. With remote work becoming the new industry standard, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your employees undergo a rigorous orientation before taking on their designated responsibilities.

Often, companies struggle with two things when it comes to employee onboarding:

  • How much information should they share?
  • How should they share this information?

An ideal employee orientation program should bring people up to speed with the chain of command, honor code, company culture, communication tools, safety regulations, role-specific expectations, and anything else that’s relevant to a new hire. You’re must also share an itinerary of how their new few days, weeks, and months will look like. As a final step, include details for a point of contact in HR or management, so they feel less lost if they’ve any questions.

Planning A Remote Employee Onboarding:

Employee onboarding is the process of equipping new employees with the tools and knowledge necessary to succeed, both in their role and at the company.

When your new hire arrives on Day one, they are scared. And they are trying to figure out where they fit into it all. But your employee onboarding process shouldn’t just welcome them to your company, it should make them gungho about what you do and pumped to be a part of it. 

By the end of their onboarding process, your new hire should know what’s expected of them and be adding real value to your company as a whole. 

Depending on the company, this process is timed to take anywhere from a day to 2 years. But in most cases, a new hire is successfully onboarded in 6 months to a year. This also depends primarily on how challenging the role is, how quickly your new hire learns, and the quality of your onboarding process.

Same as with any other strategic initiative, it’s important to understand how your leadership and development (L&D) goals ladder to your business goals. Once your goals are defined, it’s important to select the right tools and resources to build the content needed for your training plan. With the strategy and details in place, you need a plan to roll out your training and continuously assess the programs

Get HR processes and IT set up out of the way

Your new remote employee can also be walked through the IT setup using your new system. They can get their usernames and passwords assigned, gain access to critical dashboards, and take crash courses in different programs and apps your company uses. Each step can be confirmed as it is completed.

Your organization’s IT department can produce step by step videos to teach basic processes on different tools you use. These can be input as modules to be completed by new hires, with quizzes after each one to demonstrate comprehension and competency.

Help new remote employees complete HR paperwork. Having your new hires sign employment contracts and other legal documents can be time-consuming. They need to print, scan, and email all copies or send them via mail. Instead, consider using an e-signature tool, like HelloSign or DocuSign, so that employees can add their signatures digitally and share contracts with you in a secure environment.

Set 30-60-90 goals to ensure productivity from day one

30-60-90 goals provide directions for your new team members to keep themselves accountable. You set a goal to achieve in 90 days then work backward. Through the months, you set milestones and a timeline to work in, for your teammates.

As Mark Twain rightly said, “The secret to getting ahead is getting started. The secret to getting started is breaking down your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”

When you’re creating your 30-60-90, stepping stones are key as they will let you know if you’re on track. You can flesh this out even more later by breaking down each 30-day window into its weekly counterparts. Then schedule time each day to accomplish one of these smaller tasks that add to the larger picture.

By providing clear expectations, your new hires should know what their focus is their first 30, 60, and 90 days. These goals should range from one-day tasks on the front end to a project that will take a few weeks on the back end. This way, your new hires feel like they are instantly contributing. Because they are and they can track how far they have come in learning their new role.

These goals should be outlined by your existing teams before your new hire starts. They should be then presented by their direct manager on their first day. Don’t forget to continue checking in with your new hires every time they reach one of these milestones. Talk about how it’s going, what’s working, and where something needs to pivot.

Rethink team-building exercises

For remote employees, there’s an additional challenge of building an emotional connection with their new work environment and team members.

According to HBR, there are three kinds of distance in remote collaboration:

  • Physical (place and time)
  • Operational (team size, bandwidth and skill levels) 
  • Affinity (values, trust, and interdependency)

The best way for managers to drive team performance is by focusing on reducing affinity distance. You can do this by working on team building, and assigning mentors to new hires. Mix and match on-site employees with remote workers and encourage communication.

Peer to peer learning can comprise up to 75% of total learning. Create informal teams when you hire several new employees at once. Pair each with a mentor and appoint an informal team leader to act as a point person. The team can support each other through the onboarding and training process. 

Your newly formed teams can collaborate to find answers, confirm with the more experienced team members, and achieve success. You’ll find that with this approach, your company culture will naturally expand to embrace your off-site hires. And you can scale your remote workforce with increased confidence.

In The End

Following these tips can help you create an onboarding program for remote team members that is consistent and efficient. The result will be more confident, capable employees who benefit from telecommuting. You may even find some of your on-site staff eager to take advantage of the occasional work from home day.

A little effort at the start can reap rewards in the future. Thinking about how you want your training to run can result in an automated, resilient, and time-saving onboarding process for new hires. This helps you keep talented employees engaged and supports them in getting to a point where they can shine within their new role.