How to effectively onboard new remote employees
Wednesday, March 31, 2021
Remote work has all but become standard as the world continues to navigate the COVID-19 crisis and its upcoming aftereffects. Of course, this means many teams will be welcoming new members without getting to meet them in person.
These remote employees will have a completely different onboarding experience than many of their teammates did. That means companies have to be ready to make the transition as smooth as possible for their recruits.
The importance of doing a good job in this area can’t be overstated; the majority of employees are more likely to keep working for a company that provides them with an excellent onboarding experience.
Since remote onboarding shares both similarities and differences with traditional in-person onboarding, it’s important to take the time to ensure your company is creating the best experience it can.
That’s why we’re going to look at the most effective tips for onboarding new remote employees.
Setting up a home office
The first step to ensure your employees enjoy a great onboarding experience is to make sure their home office environment is tailored to their needs. Have they got a suitable desk and office chair? Is their internet connection strong enough for their workplace needs?
This doesn’t stop at hardware. Your new employees should be outfitted with the proper software tools to excel in their positions. For example, if they’re going to be working on contracts, set them up with great contract management software that will help keep their work organized.
Are your employees going to be sending a lot of emails? Then their onboarding process should involve familiarizing them with the email app they’ll be using, too.
Meeting employees’ individual needs
Everybody is unique, which means everybody has unique needs. You can make your new employees’ onboarding experience truly memorable by showing you’re taking steps to cater to those needs.
One important example in this regard is accessibility. Your recruits might have physical or mental disabilities, so it’s important to make sure your onboarding program is accessible and inclusive to everyone.
Have you set up ways to help with employees’ mental health? Do you have voice technology available for employees who might struggle to type? This kind of information should be provided during the onboarding process.
Individual needs are often linked to the type of work your recruits will be doing and which team(s) they will be a part of. Members of your remote marketing team, for instance, will need different tools and information than a remote customer service representative might.
If you provide a personalized onboarding experience that caters to your new employees’ needs, they’ll feel as though they’re valued as individuals. This helps them feel warmly welcomed to their new workplace without leaving their home office.
Connecting and communicating with the team
When everyone is physically far apart, it’s easy for members of the team to feel as though they’re not connecting. This is doubly true for recruits, who won’t be familiar with the co-workers they’ve only met virtually.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to go about improving communication within your teams, which will help your new remote employees to have a smoother onboarding experience.
1. Face to face conversations
Video conferencing tools exist to help people speak face to face, even when they’re on opposite sides of the world. Make sure your team is using the most suitable video calling technology. That way, all team members can interact easily while working from home, creating a sense of camaraderie and helping new members feel welcome.
Furthermore, giving new employees the chance to put faces to the names of their colleagues will be useful in terms of integrating them into the team. They’ll know who’s who, which will help them connect with their co-workers.
2. Phone calls
As helpful as it can be to see someone’s face while you’re speaking with them, sometimes this isn’t the most practical solution. For example, a new team member might find they’re struggling with a task and need to look at their screen while someone walks them through it.
That’s where PBX (private branch exchange) technology comes in handy. This is a type of business phone that connects various private phone networks to a wider network that can be used by businesses throughout their teams.
In other words, PBX technology gives your employees the chance to call each other directly. This is a great tool to present new employees with during onboarding, as it offers an easy way to connect with team members, managers, and other employees.
While it’s wonderful to be able to connect with the new team they’re going to be part of, most new employees feel uncomfortable asking a lot of “obvious” questions right away. That’s where chatbots come in handy.
Essentially, having a dedicated channel for customer service-style chatbots that recruits can use is a huge help. This way, your new employees know basic questions will be answered without needing to ask a team member, while at the same time being reassured that anything the chatbots can’t address can be resolved by someone more senior.
Another advantage of providing chatbots as a resource during the onboarding process is that they’re available around the clock, including on weekends, during holidays, and in the middle of the night. Whenever your recruits feel they need support, they have this resource available to them.
This is helpful in terms of accessibility. Perhaps your new employee struggles with insomnia and wants to know if they can move their hours to later in the day. A chatbot can tell them whether that’s possible — at whatever time of the night the new employee asks. The chatbot can then redirect them to the right person to find a solution.
Providing a great onboarding experience is the perfect start. It’salso just that: a start. The goal is to craft an onboarding process that will be effective, welcoming, and helpful for future employees. For that goal to be realized, your onboarding process needs to keep evolving and adapting to changes.
That’s why it’s crucial to make sure you measure onboarding effectiveness. When you can see where your onboarding is succeeding, you can keep pushing those areas. Similarly, constant measurement will show what your onboarding procedures could use to become more effective, efficient, and/or inclusive. To put it differently, constant measurement and tracking of progress allow for continuous improvement.
Keep improving the process
Just as you would put work into maintaining crucial company functions, you’ve got to devote resources to continuously improving the onboarding process.
Consider the process of maintaining PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard). Your employees can’t pay for anything online if you don’t keep up to date with this, which can be troublesome if their work involves purchasing anything regularly.
To help your employees work to their maximum potential, you likely maintain your PCI DSS and adapt it to any new security advancements or threats.
Your onboarding process works in much the same way. Recruits will have different needs as the years go by — remote work is just one example. Your onboarding strategy should be flexible and adaptable to account for this.
Tips to keep in mind
As this article states, it’s important to be ready to adapt. Of course, the rise in working from home culture is a major factor to adapt to, but there are plenty of others. An onboarding experience that doesn’t account for or create space for disabled recruits, for example, is inherently exclusive to those people, which excludes more diverse talent from your company.
In terms of adapting to remote work, communication and creating a welcoming atmosphere are two of the most crucial aspects of onboarding to bear in mind. Your recruits should have the opportunity to interact with their teams, which means your company needs to provide them with excellent video chat software.
It’s also worth mentioning, in light of having considered the significance of personalizing the onboarding process, that there’s no rule against asking your new employees what they need. It can be as simple as sending out a quick survey or asking an extra question during the interview stage.
This way, your new employees will be more satisfied and productive, making them more likely to bring value to your company.
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