With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the job market has changed dramatically. Here we discuss the best practices for onboarding remote employees.
Interviews have gone online, companies have moved employees to telecommute, and you no longer must come into the office to apply for a job.
In this unfamiliar reality, the long-established methods of onboarding employees no longer work: newcomers may not show up at the office for weeks or live in another city at all.
How online onboarding differs from regular onboarding?
At first glance, it seems that working remotely is a great option for a newcomer. The new employee will not have to communicate with chatty colleagues, spend time to impress the “old guard” or keep up a certain image. All communication will be businesslike and not as frequent.
And just therein lies the main difficulty of online onboarding. A new employee finds themselves disconnected from the usual office life. They are not cooked in a common cauldron of corporate values: do not talk to colleagues during breaks, do not communicate with people from other departments unnecessarily, and miss general team activity.
Also, a new remote employee is unlikely to develop an attachment to a cozy office in a beautiful place. So, it’s much harder to get a new employee interested and keep them for a long time.
In addition, in the office and remotely, the tools of adaptation are significantly different. And companies either use schemes that do not work and do not cope with the adaptation of newcomers to remote work or forget about onboarding altogether when it comes to remote workers.
The latter is left alone at home and does not offer any help or mentoring. And then staff quickly leave the company without really getting to know anyone.
The main challenges of remote onboarding for remote employees?
There are two things to consider in remote onboarding
- It is important to make the employee feel part of the team, even if they are not physically present in the office. To do this, it is necessary to keep in constant contact with them and promptly help with problems that arise. And that everyone connects with them via the virtual team environment or platform.
- The employee must clearly understand what is expected of them, and that they can count on themselves. It is better to give full information about the work conditions, tasks, and possibilities in the first days.
Who should be involved in the remote onboarding process?
The new remote employees should be briefed beforehand, so everyone understands their tasks and roles. In this case, it is less likely that there will be some blind spots. It is worth involving in online onboarding the following:
- The Human Resources Manager. They will have the organizational responsibility and will have to draw up an adaptation plan, instruct the manager and mentor, and introduce the newcomer to the company.
- The direct manager. They are the one who sets the goals, controls the work, gives feedback, and solves the key problems.
- The mentor. It can be either a colleague or a manager. The mentor helps with everyday tasks, gets them acquainted with work and company features, shares their best practices, and supports a newcomer emotionally and mentally.
- The team members. As a rule, these are employees of the department to which a new employee has joined. Their task is not only to participate in joint meetings but also to ensure and support the newcomer.
How to organize a newcomer’s first day of remote work?
The main task is to get them acquainted with the company and the other employees, as well as to define the work tasks for the near future.
How to organize the first week of the newcomer’s online work?
At this stage, it is important to provide the newcomer with peace of mind and certainty. Therefore, it is necessary to make a clear schedule with all the tasks and projects in which the employee will be involved. Most likely, these will be various online meetings with the manager, mentor, or team.
In addition, the manager needs to set aside time to
- Break down business processes. They need to talk again about all the organizational things, regulations, standards, taxes, learn ways to invest your federal income tax refund, everything that is important to the employee. The better they understand the mechanics of work, the faster they can adapt.
- Describe the motivation system. It should be completely understandable to a newcomer. They should know how the salary is calculated, what bonuses they can get, what KPIs must be met etc. so they can grow within the organization.
- Prepare them for possible problems. In any job, some bottlenecks can lead to a dead end. Therefore, it is important to discuss the problems that arise most often and inform how to act in these situations. It is better to warn the newcomer about all the possible difficulties and offer advice.
All these questions the manager takes a cursory look at even on the newcomer’s first day of work. However, it is impossible to absorb such a large amount of information at once, especially online.
With the right remote onboarding measures in place on the first day, week or even month of a new remote employee starting, their time in a different virtual workplace will pass productively, the loyalty of the employee and their confidence will be increased and they will feel more involved and part of their new company while settling in comfortably and effectively.
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