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A Step-By-Step Guide to Onboarding Your Remote Hires

Onboarding your hires – whether remotely or in the office – can have a big impact on your new hire’s learning rate, productivity, and retention. The better and more thought out your process, the higher the likelihood of your remote hire learning faster, being more productive, and staying in the company longer. A good onboarding process also introduces your new hire to your company’s mission, vision, values, and the general way you do things. It also allows for easier integration of your new hire into your team.

What Makes Remote Onboarding Different?

What makes remote onboarding different?

Pre-COVID-19, the onboarding process had the luxury of physical actions and encounters. Actual paperwork was signed, meetings were face-to-face, and there were plenty of opportunities outside of work to bond and get to know the team. Post-COVID-19, the onboarding process has changed in one major way – everything has shifted online. That means the entire process has been digitized. Because of this shift, even the processes and the way we onboard remote employees are different.

Check out this step-by-step guide on how to onboard your remote employees:

Pre-Onboarding (Before Day 1)

Pre-onboarding phase

This is the first phase of the onboarding process and starts as soon as you have confirmation that your new hire will take the job.

1. Set expectations – Before anyone signs anything, make sure everything is crystal clear. From the job title and the new hire’s duties and responsibilities to the pay range, work hours, benefits, leaves, and more. Make sure to ask if your new hire has any questions so that you can clear up any gray areas that may turn into misunderstandings down the line.

2. Complete the paperwork – Once expectations are set, now it’s time to handle the paperwork. Draft your contract with the necessary details, and send it over to your new hire. Make sure all other necessary paperwork (i.e. NDAs, permits, etc.) is also signed, submitted, and filed for future reference.

3. Inform your team – Letting your team know about a new hire is a key part of the pre-onboarding phase. This prepares them to adjust to other team members, especially if they will be collaborating closely.

4. Provide equipment – Once your team is informed, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty part of the onboarding process. Providing your new hire with standard equipment can be a pain, especially if they’ll be working out of a country that you’re not familiar with. One workaround is ZenAdmin. ZenAdmin’s all-in-one IT solutions platform allows you to automate requests for equipment and take care of the shipping, delivery, and logistics, so you don’t have to.

Onboarding (Weeks 1-3)

Onboarding phase

5. Send a welcome email – While it may sound a bit cliche, a welcome email with some kind and welcoming words is a great way for your new hire to start their first day. One thing to keep in mind when crafting and sending a welcome email is not to bombard the email with a list of dos and don’ts. Keep it short, sweet, and simple. Maybe add in a few friendly jokes, photos, or moving images if you feel like it, too!

6. Throw in a welcome package – Who doesn’t like receiving gifts? Nothing says welcome more than a goodie bag, right? This one is all up to you. If you have standard brand merch you can send over a few items with your company’s logo on them. If you prefer something a bit informal, you can always go with some food items or something practical like a notebook, pen, or water bottle.

7. Assign a welcome buddy – Ideally, you want to assign someone who is within the same team, department, or someone in a similar role to your new hire. The buddy system will ensure that someone is looking after your new hire, teaching him or her the ropes, while letting them in on some insider info.

8. Add your new hire to all the relevant communication channels – Set up their email, add them on Slack, Hubspot, Asana, and whatever tools are relevant to his or her role. You can even add a short message on your communication channels, introducing your new hire to the rest of the team. (You can also check out our list of 10 Must-Have Tools for Managing Your Remote Team here.)

9. Give a company orientation – This doesn’t have to be a boring 50+ page presentation. It can be a quick 10-minute chat that gives an overview of the company, your mission and vision, culture, values, structure, and whatever basic information you think your new hire should know about the company.

10. Discuss work guidelines – You can include this in your orientation or have a separate chat or email for this. Basically, you want to give your new hire any guidelines your team might have when it comes to communication, workflow, etiquette, and more.

11. Walk through your new hire’s daily responsibilities – This can happen during the first week or whenever you think your employee is ready. Give your new hire a rundown of what you expect their day-to-day tasks to include and what should be done by the end of the day.

12. Set up tasks, deliverables, and goals – After walking through their daily responsibilities, you can also talk about tasks, deliverables, and goals. This doesn’t have to be a back-to-back conversation though. Give your new hire some breathing room to try out their wings before you start planning a road map that includes other tasks, deliverables, and future goals.

13. Arrange meetings with relevant team members – Getting a remote hire integrated into your team can be difficult, especially without face-to-face or physical interaction. The easiest way to bridge this gap is to set up separate meetings with relevant team members. You don’t have to present at each one, but introducing your new hire to their teammates, manager, and/or supervisor is key in making sure everything runs smoothly.

14. Schedule one-on-one check-ins – Set weekly or bi-weekly check-ins with your new hire to see how they’re doing, their progress, and how they like working in the team. If something is amiss, you can work together to solve the issue to make sure everything is smooth sailing. These don’t have to be long calls but rather a quick chat over Slack or even a short email to see how they’re doing.

Post-Onboarding (Week 4 Onward)

Post onboarding phase

15. Ask for feedback – Feedback is a critical and often forgotten aspect of the onboarding process. Arrange a brief video call with your new hire, ask for feedback on the process, and take note of their comments. This will enable you to keep improving your onboarding process to make it even better for future new hires.

16. Create more opportunities for team bonding – Team bonding is one of the trickier parts of managing a remote team. Going out for a drink after work isn’t exactly an option, so you’ll just have to be a bit more creative. You can try online experiences such as a meditation class or even a trivia game night. You can also implement a 15-minute virtual coffee session within the team, where employees get to talk and ideally learn more about each other outside of work.

Faster Onboarding Doesn’t Mean Better Onboarding

faster onboarding doesn't mean better onboarding

While 16 steps may sound a bit overkill, the care and thought you put into your onboarding process will reap results in the long run. Some people think that the more you hire and get people in the company the better. But it’s not just about hiring a certain number of people, it’s about engaging them to stay and be committed to your company’s mission and have the confidence and belief in what they’re doing.

There are companies that ascribe to a one-day onboarding process. This can be compared to a boot camp of sorts, where all the necessary information is thrown at the new hire, and like a baby bird is, the new hire is also pushed into the deep unknown to figure out everything else for him or herself.

This type of onboarding, while definitely less time-consuming and effort-heavy may result in your new hire being overwhelmed with the new information and environment. This can lead to poor productivity or tasks managed inefficiently, which in turn may lead to lower employee morale and confidence, and ultimately, may result in higher employee turnover.

Longer onboarding processes may be more tedious in the short term, but in the long run, your employees and team will benefit from the positive initial impressions, social connections, and the way you set them up for success.

A Few Tips

tips on how to onboard your remote employees

Doing anything remotely takes a little bit of the ‘personal’ aspect of the action away. It’s important to be warm and engaging throughout the entire onboarding process. The last thing you want is for your new hire to be bored out of his or her mind with all the new things they have to learn and do. Try to avoid long-winded conversations and even longer meetings. Keep everything as short, sweet, and simple as you can.

Another tip is to use technology to your advantage. There are thousands upon thousands of apps and platforms you can use to streamline your processes, make your processes a bit more modern and fun, and more. A quick Google search will definitely turn up a few useful ones. It’s just a matter of finding which one works for you.

Onboarding is more than just a welcome packet and a few email reminders. The entire process from the pre-onboarding phase to the post-onboarding phase is a testament to your company’s success. You never know, a happy, productive, and engaged team that produces excellent work could be a product of your amazing onboarding process.

Looking for ways you can keep your remote team engaged? What about setting up your remote team for success? These articles might be useful for you!

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