Check out Sapling's latest eBook: The Essential Guide to Onboarding Success

X
GET STARTED
on January 12, 2017 Onboarding

The 5 Elements of Great Onboarding for Remote Staff

Subscribe to Email Updates

If you’re going remote, you’re in good company. Growing organizations such as Basecamp, Gitlab, Elastic, and Buffer are all thriving on remote work. With 45 percent of US employees now telecommuting to work, it’s time to concentrate on how we onboard remote staff.

Onboarding virtual employees might seem like a challenge, but with the right tools and techniques, remote staff can quickly become engaged, high performing employees.

Of course, the traditional office tour and deskside introductions aren’t an option when it comes to an out-of-office worker. Instead, we’ve got the 5 elements needed for a great onboarding of remote staff.

1. Prepare with pre-boarding and a structured game plan

Deal with administrative details early on by integrating all paperwork into pre-boarding. With services like Sapling enabling remote workers to complete paperwork in a click, they can focus their time and attention on what’s important.

Along with access to accounts or physical equipment, aim to take care of all necessities during pre-boarding for a smooth and organized start.

Ensure their manager has a structured onboarding plan in place so that the new hire has clear direction and can focus on the right things.

2. Don’t let remote workers feel remote

Although they’re not physically with the team, remote workers should still feel like part of it. When it comes to their new colleagues, new hires need to put a face to a name. Fortunately, in the realm of Skype, Google Hangouts, and Slack, this is easy.

Welcome remote hires onto your team with a “getting started” video call. Introductory calls will encourage new hires to reach out and collaborate with coworkers as they move forward. Using regular virtual meetings throughout onboarding will support open communication. While time differences might make regular check-ins seem tricky, there is always a time that can suit everyone.

Assigning remote workers a buddy is another great way to build friendships and confidence. Making a friend, even if it’s a virtual one, connects your remote workers to the organization in a more personal way, leading to better engagement.

Teamwork is key in any business, so foster an onboarding experience that encourages collaboration, not isolation.

3. Plan for productivity and follow through

Don’t let onboarding tasks fall through the cracks just because a new hire isn’t in the office. Failing to set milestones and goals can lead to confusion and feelings of purposelessness. Onboarding goals, milestones, and timelines should be easily accessed, maintained, and checked off in a central location.

With effective onboarding, companies can experience an ROI of $6,044 – $11,799 per new employee onboarded. Be clear about responsibilities and objectives with structured timelines for remote onboarding success. Breaking down goals and learning plans into achievable, manageable steps with explicit due dates helps remote employees stay in-check and accountable.

When creating your new hire onboarding program, don’t ignore employee development. Discuss career development so that remote workers receive development opportunities that will encourage them to stay engaged, productive, and onboard.

4. Make information accessible

Remote staff don’t have the option of quietly asking neighbors who’s who or where they can find a document. Don’t let this detract from productivity — make all information apparent and accessible.

Organizational structures, information about coworkers, and company resources belong in onboarding. Don’t bottleneck remote employees when it comes to access — detail where they can find any information or resources they might need in their role.  

As for teaching and learning, utilize screen-sharing features in video conferencing to teach new hires any platforms, tricks, or tools they’ll need.

5. Mission and culture for aligned employees

Remote employees can’t experience company culture in the office, so it’s important to weave it into their onboarding experience. Company culture should be introduced to remote workers from day 1 through storytelling, presentation, and communication.

Express company mission, values, and strategy so that new hires understand what’s important. As remote hires become more productive, their tasks and goals should clearly align with organizational values, supporting company culture and mission.

Continually improve your onboarding experience with regular feedback from remote staff. Asking the right questions will explain what is and isn’t working so that you can continually strengthen your onboarding program.

Effective onboarding for remote staff helps engage, retain, and ramp-up remote employees. Want to learn more about how Employee Onboarding can enhance engagement and performance in your teams? Schedule a demo below.blog_banner.png

Jeni Fahy

Jeni Fahy is a contributing author at Sapling, a culture-first organization helping People Ops leaders deliver employee experience programs with consistency, visibility, and analytics. If you’re interested in enhancing your employee experience with strategic employee onboarding, schedule a demo with the Sapling team.