In recent years, it was remote work that had one of the biggest impacts on the job market. Regular work-at-home has grown by 140% since 2005, this increase is nearly 10 higher when compared to other labor pools or self-employed individuals. Companies worldwide are seeing many benefits for allowing remote work, including access to more talent, rises in employee productivity, and better employee engagement.
Employers started to understand that a successful remote workforce requires additional foresight, which begins with the onboarding process. In terms of effectiveness – many institutions and companies have established onboarding procedures for their office-based employees, but these don’t always translate well to remote workers, and that can become a cost – of talent and output. New employees who have a negative onboarding experience are almost twice as likely to start searching for new opportunities as soon as they arrive on the job. So, if your goal is to retain your remote-working employees, you and your team must create onboarding programs that facilitate this particular group of people to become an integral part of your organization.
It’s about being part of the team
Studies suggest that while 86% of people prefer to work alone for the best productivity and output, remote work may an issue of isolation for some. Imagine an office environment, where new hires meet their colleagues during office tours on their very first day or meet their colleagues over launch or the water tank – it provides a good sense of inclusion. This is not easily achievable via remote work. Searching for viable solutions is important.
You can start by introducing your new remote hires via a team notification as soon as you know they are joining. Encourage your tenure employees to reach out via email, direct messaging (Skype, Slack, etc.) or suggest a LinkedIn connect that welcomes them to the team. Invite new hires to join you for a virtual informal meeting on their first day to meet their new teammates via a video conference (i.e.Zoom). Acknowledge them with a shout out during your meetings, or in your internal newsletter. A red carpet experience helps make remote workers feel included and easily transition to become part of the team.
Provide the tools for success
Employee onboarding consists of many interconnected pieces and without a consistent and easy to replicate the process, things may spillover through the cracks. This issue becomes more sensitive when you consider that employees working remotely simply can’t walk down to their colleague’s work desk to ask for advice. From something as basic as forgetting to show an employee how to use a particular video conferencing tool to the shipment of their work laptop – it can be detrimental to productivity, and not just that, employees may feel left out.
A well-executed remote onboarding process can help your organization to not experience the issues expressed above. Make sure tools are a priority. It’s an employer’s responsibility to have work equipment sent to the right address, and potentially setting it up. Have the email address created and ready, add teammates to the right channels of communication. Have an internal wiki page and a service desk that can help new hires get the support they require on their first days of work (and beyond). It’s a learning process to work remotely, yours is the task of teaching. Try to be as clear as possible about what is expected from people in terms of responsibilities and objectives. Set easily manageable milestones, goals, and timelines. Continuity is key – make sure to check-in on them every “n” day (there are processes like: Day 7, 15,30, and 90). Last but not least, gather feedback from the new hires and experienced employees alike to continually improve your remote onboarding process.
Find a remote buddy
The world is interconnected and relationships are more valuable than they ever been. Partnering your new talent with a seasoned employee, that has seen the works, is a great way to help them get onboarded. The buddy system is a bit less formal than a mentor or manager since it is far less formal. Even office-based employees benefit from the guiding hand of a buddy when it comes to culture, implicit code of conduct, the best lunch spots, etc. Similarly, remote working employees often have a lot of answered questions and unclarities. For instance, they may need guidance on how to order office equipment or maybe get a sense of how to separate work from their home environment. Advice is always welcomed in these situations.
So if your teammates go for it, always try to partner your new remote hires with buddies that equipped to answer the different types of questions that will arise and provide moral support. Such programs can establish meaningful connections and provide employees with comfortable ways to navigate a new workplace environment. This often translates to a faster learning process and better employee engagement for both the new hire and their tenured buddy.
First impression matter – and in terms of onboarding it’s best you get it right. You’ll be able to empower your remote workers to be productive and gradually feel connected to your organization by providing an onboarding experience that will cater to an individual’s expectation, workplace requirements, and potential challenges. In today’s world, about 63% of employers have remote workers, but a baffling 57% lack remote work policies. Remote work will continue to grow, so it becomes increasingly more beneficial to set the playfield and rulebooks that will fully engage your employees, new and experienced alike. They are the ones that help your organization rise to any occasion.