How to Onboard Remote Employees into your Small Business

Throughout the last few years, remote work arrangements have become increasingly common. This shift has been markedly accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the business landscape and the way we work was already in a process of transformation before the outbreak hit. 

Companies big and small are facing the need to adapt to this change in their daily operations, including hiring and onboarding practices. Employers that embrace and lean into these changes have a competitive advantage over those who resist them. 

Keep reading to learn how to adapt your onboarding processes to accommodate new remote workers, and how to virtually welcome employees effectively.

Principles of Onboarding New Hires

The basic goals and tenets of onboarding remain the same whether a new employee is working in the office or from home. The purpose is to acclimate them to the expectations and practices of their new professional environment, which allows them to effectively and comfortably transition into their new role.

A successful onboarding process introduces new hires to the daily operations, interactions, and channels of communication that exist within your organization in a way that’s smooth and comfortable.

Onboarding vs. Training

Although they seem similar, onboarding and training are two separate processes with two separate goals. Training is focused on the hard skills required to complete the daily tasks of the job. During training, new employees learn how to operate the technology and equipment they need to do their job and what specific expectations they’ll need to meet. Onboarding, on the other hand, is all about integrating socially and professionally with coworkers, management, and the overall company culture.

How Remote Onboarding Works

Onboarding a remote employee is different from onboarding an onsite employee. Because they’re not meeting the team and adjusting to their new role in person, you’ll need to rely on technology to make them feel welcome, valued, and connected.

The qualities that make a good remote employee are slightly different than those you might look for in a traditional in-office worker. They’ll need to be self-motivated and resourceful, but also communicative, proactive, and collaborative. It’s your job to set them up for success and that means giving them the tools, technology, and encouragement they need to do the job.

Steps For Successful Remote Onboarding

Onboarding new employees isn’t about telling them what to expect; it’s about showing them your company culture and helping them learn where and how they fit in. 

Here are some basic steps to follow to successfully onboard a new remote employee:

  1. Prepare existing workers: Make sure all of your current employees are ready to welcome any new hire, and that they know if and how they’re expected to help with onboarding and training.
  2. Have the new employee’s equipment and any programs ready: If they require any specific equipment, apps, or other programs to do their job, make sure they have access to them before their first day.
  3. Introduce the new employee to their colleagues: Schedule a virtual meeting to make introductions so the new hire learns who they’ll be working with, what their colleagues’ roles are, and where they fit in the corporate structure. Try to make this meeting as informal as possible. This gives new hires the opportunity to get to know you and their coworkers without too much pressure.
  4. Be clear about expectations and training: Take your time with the onboarding and training process, be clear about expectations, and make sure your new employee knows that questions are welcome and who they should ask.
  5. Always follow up: A big part of the onboarding process is checking in with your new employee to see how they’re settling in and if they need anything clarified. Think about scheduling a few one-on-one virtual meetings to check-in and ask questions during their first few weeks.
employee working remotely form balcony

What to Do

The first rule of onboarding is to be as clear and transparent as possible. It’s important that your new employees know what’s expected of them, where they fit into the corporate structure and culture, and how their performance will be measured.

It’s likely that, as you transition to remote hiring, onboarding, and training processes, other procedures and practices will need to be adapted as well. Make sure you communicate the following clearly during the remote onboarding process:

  • How you plan to measure remote job performance
  • How you’ll measure productivity remotely
  • Your plan for remote employee development opportunities
  • How you plan to build and maintain relationships with remote employees

What Not to Do

A good onboarding process can make your new hire feel welcome and excited for their new role; a bad one can make them feel intimidated, lost, and overwhelmed. Here are a few things to avoid:

  • Don’t overload your new employee with too much work all at once. Give them time to get settled and acclimated to your company culture before you pile a bunch of work on them.
  • Don’t be vague. Failing to set clear goals and expectations is a surefire way to make a new employee feel uncomfortable.
  • Don’t fail to collect feedback. If you’re doing something wrong in your remote onboarding process, you want to know so you can correct it. Once your new hire is fully onboarded, ask them if there’s anything you or your team could have done differently to make them feel more prepared, welcome, and connected.

Do you need help onboarding remote employees?

Make the decision to embrace the new business climate of remote work. Adapt your operations and strategies to accommodate the new challenges we face and gain a unique competitive advantage. Do you need help onboarding remote employees and transitioning your practices to a virtual environment? At Rush Recruiting & HR, we’re excited to help businesses of all sizes meet these new challenges. 

If you need help onboarding remote employees, we’re here to guide you through the process and answer any questions you have about how to effectively recruit, hire, onboard, and train your new remote employees and adapt your other practices to meet the unique needs of the future.

Get in touch online or call us at (503) 481-1285 to get started.

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