Last Updated on July 1, 2022 by James Ewen
Every company provides a unique experience for their employees, but since working from home became the norm, more and more people started to experience the same problems. In this easy guide, we’ll explain how to rethink your onboarding process and shape it to better suit remote employees.
How to recruit remote employees
We’ve experienced the biggest shift to remote working ever. In the past, remote work mostly appeared in the gig economy, but it has drastically changed recently due to technology’s rapid development and the global pandemic. While there are companies that got a head start, because they’ve been practising this type of work for years, don’t worry. Our simple guide will explain all the intricacies of remote working and the best ways to onboard new employees.
Remote work provides a special kind of freedom to employees who want to organize their workday to better suit their schedule, instead of the corporate 9-5. Seeing how employees have to juggle their private lives, families, and other responsibilities alongside a job, it’s easy to see why they would choose to work from home.
With more and more companies understanding the benefits of working remotely, it’s important to understand the differences in recruiting remote employees.
Having an in-person meeting with a new hire already gives them a plethora of information on you and your company. They can see the offices, the other employees (the way you interact with them), and your meeting room.
All of these things provide them with context clues, leading them to make educated guesses on company culture and employee satisfaction. When you recruit remote employees, all of that information is missing from the conversation.
That’s why you need to be extra clear with all job candidates from the start. Write a job listing specifically oriented towards remote employees and make sure to include a description of your company’s values and goals.
Link any blogs you might have that talk about these things in your listing in order to provide people with the full spectrum of information. Once you select candidates for interviews, make sure to bring up the subject of working from home and explain what that means for your company.
It would be helpful for them to know what time their team members usually start to work and how company-wide communication works. Do they have to respond to all messages or phone calls as soon as they receive them, or do you practice asynchronous communication or using IVR system?
While you’re preparing the questions for your interview, remember that some workers are just now entering the work field, and they don’t have any office experience. That means that you have to educate them on corporate culture, even if they’ll be exclusively working from home.
Now that we’ve covered your part of the equation, let’s delve into the type of employees that strive in a remote environment.
Remote workers need to have the same set of skills your other employees have, but they also need to be self-motivated and great at organizing their workload by themselves. They have to be organized enough to meet tight deadlines without affecting their sleep schedules for a productive life at work. They also need to be able to communicate with their team members efficiently, through different tools.
This may be hard for some people because they can’t read facial cues and tone through text messages, so some things may be lost in translation. That’s why it’s important to bring in potential team members for interviews and ask their opinion on prospective candidates.
To ensure the security of the remote work provide them with a few tips on how to secure the device and protect their privacy online.
Give essential information and access
Once you hire new team members, welcome them to the company with a package. If you’re securing the work equipment, send it to them with a welcoming note in which you express your appreciation for them and hope for a great business relationship.
In case you’re not sending them any equipment, write them a welcome email. Start with a short introduction to your team, a description of their first week, and a few tips on how to make their home office comfortable and free from any distractions.
When they set up their equipment, share access to your communication channels, different tools they’ll need and all other information you deem necessary. Once they’ve settled in, invite them for their first onboarding call and introduce all team members and projects they’ll work on.
Start with a 2-week plan
Getting your new employees settled is an important first step, but don’t forget that onboarding is a process and not a one-time thing.
If you’ve exclusively hired employees that worked in the office before, reevaluate your existing onboarding process. Just because you’re not physically close to your new employees, doesn’t mean that you should scrap the old practices. After all, the end goal is the same – making sure the new hires are familiar with your company’s culture and values and feel comfortable within their team.
Work out which steps of your onboarding process make no sense in the digital environment and try to replace them with remote-friendly but monitoring activities.
Start by giving your new hires a simple task and make sure to check in on their progress. Make complex processes and workflows easier with explainer videos to let them understand how things work. Once they finish their task, don’t review it immediately, but let them listen to a few of your presentations introducing the clients and projects they’ll be working on.
During this meeting, go over their roles and tasks for each project and make sure to give them clear instructions on how to take over responsibilities from current employees, as well as how to open up communication with clients. You can even make animated videos about the key workflow procedures in the company prior to assigning first tasks to the new hires.
This is how you’ll avoid a high turnover rate since research shows that 44% of new hires that leave within 6 months do so because of unclear guidelines regarding their role.
After the meeting, give them a chance to rewrite their first task to be more in line with the expectations of your company and clients.
Make sure to check in on them privately after these steps and give them feedback on their job.
How to choose the first big project
The first big project should be something that involves cross-team collaboration and an agile approach to manage projects overall. A project like that ensures that your new hire will communicate and work with other team members which will help them learn other people’s responsibilities and create comradery in the digital space.
A project that requires them to work with others doesn’t just show how good of a team player they are but also helps them discover the inner workings of your company. The end goal is for them to work together and bridge the gap between them brought on by geography, culture, and more.
Introduce the team
We already mentioned that you need to introduce the team over a Zoom call (or any other tool of your choosing), but remember to make this a periodical thing. Organize a weekly meeting in which you’ll discuss the progress made on different projects, company news and get a chance to further familiarize yourself with the team.
Meanwhile, connect your entire team on a remote team chat app, like Slack or its alternatives, to let them discuss things, ask questions from each other, and catch up when they need.
Knowing one’s work responsibilities and knowing them as a person are two different things. Since your remote workers don’t have a chance to catch up at the water cooler, you need to recreate these spontaneous moments for them.
This is a longer process, but it will be worth it once you see them relying on each other and letting their team members know when they need help or an extension on the deadline.
Performing regular check-ins lets you know how your new hires are progressing as well as how the team feels about their new colleagues. Employee satisfaction is the best review of your onboarding process, so make sure to listen and make changes if necessary.
Other than checking in with your employees privately, make sure to leave time in your weekly meetings for questions and suggestions. If you’re not getting any constructive criticism, send out anonymous questionnaires and let your employees write their grievances.
No one likes to spend time with their coworkers outside of work, so don’t force any Zoom happy hours or make them eat lunch in front of the camera. Think smaller when it comes to working on employee gatherings, like celebrating birthdays, weddings, having children and more over Slack and company-wide emails.
That leaves people room to reach out to other team members privately and forge real connections.
Onboarding is a long process that costs you time and energy so you want to make sure it gives you the results you want. Rework your strategy and make checklists for all steps you want to take, but don’t forget about the human factor.
Your employees need to adjust to the “new normal” and you’ll definitely come across some hiccups and will need to be quick on your feet. You’ll see that there’s a lot of things that transfer nicely to the digital space and with our guide for the things that don’t, you’ll easily create a foolproof strategy for onboarding remote workers.
Petra Odak is a Chief Marketing Officer at Better Proposals, a simple yet incredibly powerful proposal software tool that helps you send high-converting, web-based business proposals in minutes. She’s a solution-oriented marketing enthusiast with more than 5 years of experience in various fields of marketing and project management.