How to Onboard New Hires Remotely

September 22, 2020

It is no secret that we live in a highly advanced digital age, enabling people to work remotely more than ever before. In fact, according to FlexJobs, 4.7 million people are remote workers as we speak. But another thing that has been on the rise is the process of remote onboarding. Whether the employee is going to be in-house or not, office managers and office administrators are leveraging the convenience of onboarding new hires virtually. It saves time, money, and is generally appealing to all parties involved. However, not all employers are doing it...well...right.  

You see, as great as remote onboarding may be, office managers cannot approach it the same way as they would if the person was in front of them. By default, virtual onboarding is less engaging, not as personable, and can feel less inviting overall. The good news is that you can easily combat that reality with some process alterations. So, if you are thinking about upping your game, building a better work culture for your new employees coming on, and making your life easier (especially if you are someone without a full HR team and doing most of the work), then keep reading to discover how to do just that.  

1. Start with a Welcoming Package

When someone accepts an offer from a company they desire to work for, they might feel tinges of both excitement and worry. It is a new role for them, after all, and if the process is going to be remote onboarding, it can already make them feel detached from the team right from the start, which is something you should actively try to prevent. To help your new hire(s) feel like their presence (even virtually) is gratifying, consider starting out your onboarding process by gifting them. Chances are you have their address by now, so takes some time to structure a gifting set that includes things like:

• A personalized note from you, the office manager, welcoming them to the team and stating how excited you are to have them join.

• Maybe a free branded item, such as a t-shirt or a mug.

• Perhaps add some other greetings from team members as well.

Definitely check out our partner Sendoso because they make it super easy to send and manage employee swag bags. 

2. Design A HR Paperwork Checklist

If you do not have one already, then sit down and list everything that you need documentation wise for all new hires coming on:

Pay, benefits, PTO, vacation, compliance documents, personal information, FMLA, medical leave, termination details, anti-discrimination measures, injuries, W-2, I-9, 401K/pension, and anything else you need to cover, write it down in the order you want to get them done.

It can feel like a pain at first, but this will be a sure-fire way for you to cover all your bases down the line. And because this will be remote onboarding, tailor the process to favor it. For instance, if you send all the legal documents to your new hire via email, this means that they need to print, sign, and either scan or mail it back to you. It can be time-consuming, so think about using an e-signature tool, like DocuSign or HelloSign instead. It is a fast, secure way to get signatures digitally and share contracts online.

Of course, you can always use officeotter to create repeating shared tasks.

3. Arrange Necessary Training

This does not have to be their exact role training per se, but things that are required to be covered based on the industry you are in. As an example, many retail stores make customer service training mandatory, and manufacturing tends to offer safety and best practice training, which can be done online. Whatever it is you are doing, make sure you give your new hires the training and tools they need to succeed right out of the gates.

Tip: Try incorporating interactive courses that are user-friendly to boost engagement amongst your new hires and the rest of the team.

4. Assign an Onboarding Buddy for Smaller Stuff

Sure, as the office manager or office administrator, there are aspects in the remote onboarding process that only you can do (such as the HR documents mentioned above), but there are some things you can delegate. Think about asking your current employees if they would be willing to be a point of contact for new people coming on so they can build team relationships and feel more "at home."  Think about it, new hires are generally more timid around their bosses than their coworkers, so this is a way for them to feel more relaxed and soak in the unbiased company culture from the sources themselves.

Tip: You can entice employees to take on this role in rotation by offering a bonus or gift of some sort for doing so. You should also consider cultivating an onboarding buddy checklist, so they do not miss covering essential aspects, such as setting up their email, installing necessary software, taking a virtual tour of the place, introducing them to their defined roles, and training them side by side until they feel comfortable doing it themselves.

5. Schedule One-on-One Tag Up Meetings

The first few weeks, even months of a new hire's experience is critical. It can either make or break their desire to work for you, so taking the initiative to schedule weekly, or bi-weekly call-ins is a way to know what they are thinking and where they need more support. Here you can also go over their goals and see where they want their careers to go. Remember, everyone is different, and even if you think that your onboarding process is fool-proof, some who are actually living it might not think the same. Tagging up with them throughout gives you customized direction on where they need assistance and highlights areas in your protocol that need to be addressed.

6. Do Frequent Hybrid Team Meetings

Regardless of whether you have remote employees or not, frequent team meetings are always a good idea to ensure everyone is on the same page and gain insight into what they are thinking. With being an office manager with so much on your plate, sometimes things slip through the cracks that could be bothering your employees, and this gives them the chance to let you know about it respectfully.

virtual team meetings

Flipping back to remote workers during onboarding, this is a way for them to get to put names to faces, see the different personality types, and interact with everyone on a personal level than the standard email exchanges. Because remote workers tend to be viewed as an “out of sight, out of mind” resource, this is a way you avoid that from happening in your own workspace and make them feel valued/connected like everyone else.

Conclusion - Effort Now Equals Value Later

I know the above tips do entail a bit of initial work to get the ball rolling in the right direction when it comes to onboarding new hires and making them feel welcomed remotely. For instance, setting up an ideal HR checklist and cultivating a seamless onboarding process can take office managers and office administrators some time to work out. But the critical thing you have to do here is to think about the bigger picture. Yes, you will be investing time and effort now, but it will not be done in vain. Once you finalize and tweak your remote onboarding process, you will finally be able to sit back and soak in the fruits of your labor and feel more confident in bringing on people virtually overall.  

In the end, your employees are what keeps your business going. By ensuring that they are feeling comfortable and part of the team right from the start will not only make their transition smooth, but it will develop a positive company culture well after remote onboard is over. And that is something intrinsic all on its own.

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