4 Onboarding Tips for Remote Employees

Every new employee needs to undergo a well-planned onboarding process. This includes remote employees; with modern networks spanning the globe, more companies are open to taking on virtual employees.

However, some organizations find it more difficult to integrate remote workers. Long distance can create time zone and communication issues that represent challenges to team building. Remote workers can feel less engaged, so that their attitudes and performance begin to drop. It’s important they become functional team members as soon as possible.

1. Provide for Open and Frequent Communication

With remote hires, you should hold regular progress meetings to ensure frequent communication with your on-site team members. Open communications provide a means for casual conversation to create personal bonds with other members of the team. Remote workers who aren’t quickly made a part of the collaborative environment can feel alienated and hesitate to take initiative. Tools like Google Hangouts provide a virtual office space where remote and on-site workers can check in freely to exchange thoughts.

Structure your projects so that every team member interacts with the remote hire. This will help them form relationships and feel comfortable about reaching out. A mentoring system with a senior employee can also help form a solid relationship while providing the new hire with guidance and knowledge. Having someone to rely on will provide the new employee with more confidence while accelerating their acceptance into the team culture.

2. Define Expectations

Remote hires will have a better sense of their responsibilities if you clearly establish your expectations before work begins. Even though they aren’t physically present, as an employee they must respect your working hours and align their efforts with your objectives. Be sure to communicate your normal hours of business, and how and when you expect to be kept informed.

You should clearly spell out the new hire’s responsibilities, explain company values, team objectives, time frames, and processes for employee reviews. Ensuring that new employees have a clear understanding of what’s expected from them sets a solid foundation that can ease stress and promote a smoother onboarding process.

3. Provide Help

Before the remote worker starts, you should provide instructions that will help them to answer their questions. They need to know where to get help, how to find forms or reports, where they can find additional information, and current procedures for executing the tasks they will perform regularly.

While it isn’t necessary to print out a thick employee manual, a few pages of documentation can help them get started, whether it’s posted on an internet source or sent as an email attachment. Before their first day, remote hires should know what tools they’ll be working with, what resources are available, and what policies are in effect relating to various tasks they’ll perform. By providing everything they need on day one, you will enable them to get off to a strong start.

In order to communicate and utilize the information you provide, you must also ensure that the remote worker will have network access, a company email account, database and application privileges where required, and any hardware such as printers or mobile devices. Everything should be in place for them to step into their new role.

4. Evaluate the Experience

The time required to effectively onboard a remote worker depends on a number of factors, such as their job description and the availability of training, technical, and other resources. In most cases, it will take about ninety days on the job before a new hire feels comfortable and productive in their role. You’ll want to make improvements to accelerate this as much as possible.

Once the onboarding process is satisfactorily completed, touch base with the new hire to get their reactions to your onboarding program. That can tell you where they wanted additional information, or what seemed to be a waste of time. Also, query the other members of the team for suggestions on what could have made the orientation process more effective.

At every onboarding process, you should take steps to gather feedback and make any needed improvements to orienting new hires, especially remote ones. A combination of experiment and direct feedback will suggest continuing improvements that make onboarding easier and more effective going forward, even for new hires that are thousands of miles away.

In summary, the digital landscape is allowing employers to look farther afield to find the best talent for their workforce. It’s important to develop a strong onboarding process at your company so that these remote workers can quickly become productive and engaged team members. New hires that bond better with the company and their colleagues are more likely to stay with the company for the long term and have greater enthusiasm. Making the experience better and easier provides greater value to the employee and to the company.

Josh McAllister


Josh McAllister is a freelance tech writer and business consultant based in New York. In his free time, he enjoys all things geeky and gadgetry, the outdoors, and spending time with his family. You can reach him on Twitter @josh8mcallister.
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