Remote employees are an extremely valuable addition to any company. With the use of new technology, it is easier than ever to be globally distributed. However, this raises a new challenge for managers: How can you effectively onboard remote employees? As a manager, one of your roles is to ensure that your remote hires are integrated smoothly into the culture and processes of your organization. A high-quality onboarding process can reduce early attrition and ensure that your employees succeed in their roles and with the company.
Benefits Of Good Onboarding
First impressions are important for any employee. Your onboarding process sets the stage for a new remote employee's overall experience at your organization. If your onboarding process is inefficient, it increases the chances that the employee will struggle to acclimate. In addition, a sloppy onboarding process may give the impression that the company has poor communication or is disorganized. This can lead to a negative perception of the company among the new hire and their social network.
In contrast, an effective onboarding process can increase the chances that the new hire will feel welcome, knowledgeable, and motivated during their first few weeks with the company. The very best onboarding experiences can lead to an employee that is highly productive, loyal, and engaged.
Onboarding Is Similar To Customer Success
Onboarding your employees is similar to onboarding your customers. Just as you want to ensure that your customers are aligned, productive, and engaged, you also want the same results for your employees. Both are hugely important to the success of your company. Properly doing both helps you build a culture of success and achieve your overall business goals.
As a manager, you have to make sure each new hire is integrated and productive as quickly as possible. This means you have to provide your new remote hires with everything they need to succeed. If you can achieve this result, you will create a positive impression at the employee, manager, and organizational levels.
Challenges Of Onboarding Remote Hires
Onboarding a new remote employee is different from onboarding an employee within the same office. The difference is due to the fact that remote employees are isolated from their manager, team, and other employees. In addition, due to the fact that they are located remotely, they are potentially working in a different time zone from their manager and teammates. This is a combination of challenges that you cannot overcome easily. If you do not tackle them, the new hires will potentially feel disconnected and can struggle to integrate into their team.
The isolation of the new remote employee is a challenge you can overcome with some initial planning. You have to map out a process to ensure the new hire gets the required exposure to your company's culture, processes, and tools. The best time to map out this process is before you hire your new employee. You should create a workflow and timeline for your onboarding process.
Tips For Great Remote Onboarding
There are a number of tips you can use to make sure your onboarding process is successful when working with remote employees. These include:
1. Map Out The First Day / Week
The first day of any new job is a crucial time for a new hire. It sets the tone for the rest of their career at the company. Your job is to make sure your new employee has a great first experience. The best way to do this is to map out your new hires' first day and the week at the company.
Leverage an onboarding checklist to ensure you don't miss any steps along the way. Onboarding is complicated, involving everything from provisioning access to tools, to training, to getting the employee acclimated with the company culture. A good checklist can help you ensure that you don't overlook anything.
Define an onboarding schedule for the first day and week, that can be provided to both the new hire and the team. This helps set proper expectations. This is not the time to have a new employee jump into a project or start working on a sprint. The best approach is to schedule time for training, getting to know the team, and getting them acclimated with the company culture.
2. Align On Culture / Rules / Processes
A big challenge of onboarding is helping the new employee to learn about the company culture, processes, and tools. A remote employee is at a disadvantage in this regard since there is no one to physically sit down with them to explain things. To overcome this, you have to be more intentional, and take a more structured approach to get your new remote employees aligned.
The best way to do this is to create a set of slides that explains your company culture, any rules or processes, and how they should use the tools. You should include this set of slides in the onboarding materials that you give to the new hire. In addition, you should schedule a meeting with the new hire to discuss the slides and answer any questions.
Consider sharing the BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal) that your company has. This creates awareness and understanding of the company's goals and helps the new hire align with the company's purpose. Having a clear perspective on the goals of the company is hugely important for the success of any employee, as it enables them to understand how their efforts fit into the larger company goals.
3. Record 1st-day Alignment Sessions
During the onboarding process, you will be having a variety of video calls with your new hire. It is a good idea to record these calls and include them in the onboarding materials. These materials can be used by the employee as a reference so they can review what they learned on any given day of their onboarding.
AI meeting assistants that provide call transcription and sharing can be used to capture these meetings and share them as required. This helps to ensure that you have a complete record of the employee's onboarding. You can easily search and review these recordings as an employer, to make sure you have a proper perspective of what was taught to the employee during onboarding.
4. Aim For Quick SaaS Tools Setup
A major consideration during onboarding is getting your new hire configured on the SaaS tools that they will be using. You want to make sure they are able to perform their job role as soon as possible. It is best to get this done as early as possible. The best way to do this is to perform as many account pre-provisioning and setup steps as possible before the new employee comes on board.
When you have a new hire scheduled, you can start the process of setting up their accounts in the various SaaS tools they will be using. This includes everything from their email account to their project management tools. This way, when the employee starts, they are ready to use the tools as soon as they are onboarded. Ideally, on the employees' first day you are simply unlocking access to these tools.
5. Use An Internal Onboarding Wiki
An internal wiki is a great way to provide information to your employees, especially new hires. A wiki is a website that is designed to allow users to create, edit, and share content. Your employees can use the wiki to share information with one another, or access information about the tools they are using.
You can use the wiki to store information that is specific to your company. This includes things like your company's values, your process for how people join the company, hiring expectations, and how to use the various tools you use. If you have an employee handbook, a wiki is a great place to store this information.
As a manager, you can use an internal wiki to document the onboarding process. This includes the onboarding schedule, checklists, and any other information that will be used to help new hires get up to speed.
6. Provide Access To Recorded Team Meetings
Understanding how an existing team operates is a huge part of understanding your new job. For remote employees, there is no substitute for being able to understand the structure, style, and flow of existing meetings they will be attending as part of their job. You can use an AI meeting assistant to capture existing team meetings and provide access to these recordings to your remote employees as part of their onboarding.
For example, if you have a team meeting that occurs weekly, by providing historical access to previous meetings, you can help the new hire to understand how these meetings work, and what is expected of them. This is a great way to help them to better integrate into your existing team.
7. Proper Team Introductions Matter
One of the biggest challenges of remote employees is feeling like they are part of the team. To help them to feel connected, you need to make sure they are properly introduced to the team. This means that the team that they will be working with needs to have a chance to meet the new employee.
A good approach is to schedule a team introduction for the new employee, followed by 1-on-1 sessions with specific team members they will be working with. This helps to ensure that the remote employee feels connected, and will be more likely to be successful.
8. Use Video + Chat Onboarding Check-ins
Checking in with new hires is a great way to ensure they are staying on track during onboarding. This is especially true for remote employees, as you are less likely to have visibility into how they are doing.
You can use videoconferencing and chat to schedule check-ins with your new hires. This gives you the opportunity to ask them questions, and understand if they are having any problems. It also gives them the opportunity to ask you questions. In addition, you can have them share a screen during these meetings, which enables you to see the tools that they are using. This helps you ensure that they are not missing anything in their onboarding.
9. Aim For A "Quick Win" In Week 1
One of the biggest challenges of onboarding is that it is hard to separate the "learning" from the "doing". Employees want to feel productive, but productivity requires learning and alignment. To help to make your new hire feel productive, consider defining a "quick win". A quick win is something that can almost certainly be completed within their first week.
For example, if your new hire is a software developer, consider having them develop a small feature or fix a small bug. This gives the new hire the sense that they can be productive and are making progress. Once they have completed the quick win, you can schedule a meeting to review how the process went. This gives you the opportunity to understand where they may be struggling, or if certain aspects of the onboarding process need to be improved.
10. Align On Timing + Path To Productivity
A key aspect of any onboarding process is alignment. The goal of alignment is establishing common goals and objectives between the new employee and the company. To help ensure alignment, you need to have a perspective of how long it will take for the new employee to be productive. After you have onboarded a few remote employees, you will have a better idea of how long it takes to be productive. You can use this information to establish a timeline that can be used to share with new hires. This will help to keep them motivated and on track during the onboarding process.
If you have specific week-1, week-2, and week-3 goals for the new hire, aim to share these goals with them. This will help them to be aware that everyone is on the same page, and will help to orient the new hire on your company's specific expectations around velocity.
11. Setup Regular Employee 1-on-1s
Regular 1-on-1 meetings are an important part of any employee's job role and should be defined as part of the onboarding process. This is especially true for remote employees. It is a good idea to schedule 1-on-1 meetings at least once every two weeks to start, and then work to adjust the frequency based on the employee's specific needs. At these meetings, it is important to discuss the employee's goals, progress, and friction points. This helps to ensure that they are staying on track with their onboarding.
Whether to record 1-on-1s is a matter of preference. If you record sessions, consider including a section at the end of each meeting for off-the-record discussion. This is a good opportunity for the employee to discuss sensitive issues or for candid feedback.
12. Invite To Team Meetings
One of the biggest challenges for a remote employee is feeling isolated. It is vital to ensure that your employees feel connected to the company. One of the best ways to do this is to get your employees involved in the various team meetings that happen on a regular basis. Setting up their calendar on their first day is a good way to ensure that they are aware of how the company operates and what is expected of them.
Onboarding remote employees is not simple. You need to ensure that you have a high-quality onboarding process in place and that your employees feel well-supported and aligned with the company's goals and expectations. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can help your remote employees to feel connected and productive. This will help to ensure that they are successful in their role, and will reduce early attrition.
Proper training is vital to the success of a remote employee. Consider using an AI meeting assistant that provides call recording and transcription to help you to provide a historical knowledge base of training and alignment sessions. By providing your employees with searchable access to previously recorded meetings and educational sessions, they will be more likely to succeed.