Remote work has become the new normal in the past few months. And even as cities begin reopening, companies worldwide are announcing that remote work is here to stay. In response, companies across every industry are adapting to the changing landscape, and are identifying places where business operations can accommodate remote workers.
As we expect remote work to stick around for many years to come, one area of business operations that will need a quick and thoughtful pivot is Human Resources. A shift to a better remote remote hiring process will enable teams to continue attracting top talent, hiring their perfect-fit candidates, setting them up for success and retaining their workforce as a whole. One of the best ways to accomplish many of these goals is to create a solid onboarding process for remote employees to improve their experience after accepting an offer.
While remote onboarding may seem like a too-stark departure from having in-person interviews and an office to show off a company’s culture, it’s a reality every company is facing right now. To adapt, they’ll need to start rethinking the way they onboard remotely. Here are our top three ways to help improve onboarding for remote employees and help new hires have a great first day/week/month.
Make sure there’s a strategy and logistical procedure in place
When it comes to remote onboarding, nothing should be haphazard. Instead, put a strategy in place with logistical steps behind it. That way, everyone is clear on what needs to happen in order to set a new hire up for success. Plus, since a great onboarding process makes employees up to 69% more likely to stay with a company for at least 3 years, it’s crucial to get off on the right foot.
To improve the new hire experience, all bases should be covered. A successful onboarding process for remote employees should account for the following steps:
- Make sure the employee knows when they start, and that they’ll be remote
- Communicate expectations about their first day and work schedule ahead of time
- Communicate expectations about equipment used ahead of time
- Send equipment (computers, monitors, mouses, headsets, etc.) at least a week and half before their start date
- Include instructions for set up with the equipment
- Set aside an entire first day of onboarding -- during that day, give the new hire presentations about HR processes and the company, and allow them to get the lay of the land by having them meet with their manager, immediate team and other key players
- Consider assigning new hires a first-quarter mentor to guide them through their first quarter with the company and serve as a friendly touchpoint
- Ease new hires into their first week with smaller assignments that give them a chance to use company frameworks to complete low-risk tasks
- During the first few days, communicate expectations and goals for their first week, month and half-year
- Encourage remote coffee meet-ups between existing employees and new hires
- Send out swag gear within the first month: t-shirts, water bottles, pens, notebooks -- whatever they’d get in the office, make sure they receive remotely
- Establish clear channels for communication and point out the go-to people for questions about X, Y or Z -- and remind new hires that these people are accessible and willing to answer questions whenever they’re needed
Once an effective remote onboarding process is established, be sure to document it for future use. Consider it the official onboarding process for all employees working outside of the office -- whether that’s temporarily or permanently.
Encourage new hires to connect with other teams
As part of the onboarding process, be sure that there is cross-functionality in the way new hires are connecting with coworkers. In addition to setting up meetings with managers and immediate team members, encourage new hires to meet with other employees across the organization. For smaller companies, consider having each team give a short presentation to new hires throughout their first month about what they do at the company and how the new hire can expect to collaborate with them.
Another way to do this is by setting up virtual company-wide happy hours, coffee hours, or lunch-and-learns. This way, the new hire doesn’t feel singled out -- and other employees can keep things fun and informal while introducing themselves. Additionally, a company may consider crowd-sourcing short greeting videos from all of its existing hires, and then compiling those into a larger welcome video. Then, send that out to new hires on their first day to make them feel welcome.
Use technology to create a remote company culture
Digital platforms can be a great way to promote company culture during the onboarding process. This could take a few different forms: from a Slack channel for new hires to virtual spirit days or weekly trivia nights. The goal here is to enable a company culture -- even if there’s not an office to go to each day. Each company will need to tailor this to their specific values and interests, but the most important thing is to find ways to showcase a strong culture and foster togetherness remotely.
Even though remote onboarding can seem challenging, a little creativity and the right tools can go a long way toward giving employees the training they need to be successful. Try implementing some of these strategies to create a successful onboarding process for remote employees -- we guarantee that your hires will be happy you did.
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