4 Essential Phases to Successful Remote Onboarding Experience

remote onboarding

Onboarding is about welcoming and assisting a new employee to learn and build a company culture where everybody feels part of the team. When done remotely, it technically has a different method but actually going through the same process. One thing for sure, creating a good remote onboarding experience is challenging. Why?

A physical work environment holds a critical role to the traditional hiring process. At the office, you can greet a new employee in the morning with a welcome package in hand. You’ll introduce them to everyone, take them to their desk, set up a meeting and explain the training process. On recess, you’ll come to their desk and invite them to have lunch with the team. This regular and friendly contact over the upcoming weeks will help them get connected with the company, the work they’ll be doing and their teammates. While remote employees don’t have as many opportunities to organically blend into the company culture and the team. 

When you lead people on board, it’s your responsibility as a hiring manager or team leader to double-check they have everything they need to be successful in their role. Here are some essential phases you can take to set new hires up for success through remote onboarding.

A Strong Pre-Boarding Process

Pre-boarding provides a company with an opportunity to start aligning its new employee with its values, mission and culture. For a remote new employee, the first day at work can be challenging as they do not have a co-worker or a senior to informally guide them on the company policies, the roles and responsibilities as well as acceptable behaviour. This can make them feel disconnected and lower their excitement on day one. From a psychological point of view, a new employee might feel anxious or doubtful about their career choice in joining your company. Having a strong pre-boarding process in place can wipe out such tension and make the onboarding process more effective. Pre-boarding can also hearten the new employee’s commitment to the company.

The moment a candidate accepts the job offer to the time they actually begin working is a crucial period. As an inspiring hiring manager or team leader, it’s important to use this period to conduct a pre-boarding process. Here are some strategies that can help your new remote employee go through a seamless transition from the job offer to the first day effectively.

  • Send a personalised welcome email to ensure that they feel comfortable and are able to reach out in case of any questions and concerns.
  • Make company information, like organisational charts and other resources accessible to help them understand the company’s vision and values earlier.
  • Send bytes of information in a digital format about life at the office, benefits, sick days and more.
  • Inform your new employee about the tools and technology your company uses.

Use this pre-boarding process to maintain the level of enthusiasm during the hiring process. This is a good chance for you to get a head start on employee engagement. 

The secret of success is to start early

Rakesh Jhunjhunwala

Social Onboarding

Starting a new job can be huge and overwhelming. For a new employee who used to work in a traditional office, adapting to the remote work lifestyle might be a challenge. Therefore, socialisation is important to be added as a part of the remote onboarding process to help new employees feel more connected to their new team, even though they don’t share an office. To build a relationship that is aligned with your company culture, it’s important to encourage informal communication between team members. This can be integrated into the remote onboarding process in several key ways:

  • Have the team make a welcome video for the new employee. The theme of the video can be warm and welcoming. While the tone and persona of the video depends on your company culture, keep the welcome video simple, short and focus on the messages you want to send. 
  • Ask the new employee to make an introduction video. Help them by sending a list of questions to answer. To make it more interesting, you can have a team that can add graphics and effects. Loom is a good tool to create video messaging for work.
  • Connect a co-boarding buddy with the new employee. This person can be a friendly point of contact for a new team and also introduce them to others. New hires and onboarding buddies should communicate in a variety of ways, such as video calls, check-ins on Slack or coffee chats.
  • Have new employees answer some “get-to-know you” questions and create a quiz to encourage existing team members to learn all about their new friend.
  • Invite to virtual social activities where they can get to know their team in a relaxed setting. Use internal social networks to help new employees chat with existing team members during the first few weeks and months. It will help them build connections that can support them and help with learning.

“One of the most important factors in helping a new employee style into their role is having support from and good relationship with their new colleagues.”

Mark Blokhuis

First Assignments

By the time you reach this phase, your new employee should be ready to be given some assignments and goals. According to Fellow, it’s important for anyone new to a team to feel like they’re making progress in the first few days. To give them a sense of progressing and have a deeper understanding of what they’re expected to do, here’s what you can prepare:

  • Create a task board or checklist for the first few weeks. This will provide transparency and keep you as a manager from feeling a need to check in constantly. 
  • Make sure new employees have a list of regular tasks, goals, stretch goals and key performance indicators.
  • Invite them to add goals that excite them
  • Strongly encourage your new employees to reach out and ask questions. 
  • Answer all their questions “

“The sooner an employee connects with their role and feels like they’re contributing, the more likely they are to feel settled in and engaged ”

Lisa Brown, VP of Talent at Vityard

Ongoing Support

Successful remote onboarding develops if the remote team can establish an effective working relationship early with the new employee and absorb a clear understanding of how the business really operates. This will happen more effectively if the new employees and team are socially connected. After the initial rush of onboarding, maintain the ongoing support for your new remote employees by:

  • Stay in close communication with new employees and regularly initiate conversations with them.
  • Build a relationship in which they can reach out to you whenever necessary.
  • Ask them about how remote onboarding is going, whether they feel supported or having any issues in their role.
  • Maintain informal communication with the new employee. If they’ve mentioned hobbies or interests to you, bring those up or send them interesting articles or videos about something they’ve mentioned.
  • Make ongoing remote team building a permanent part of your company culture.

“Satisfied, engaged remote employees is the ultimate goal of this onboarding process”

Snacknation

Final Words

Remote onboarding process can take many forms and shapes and there is no one size fits all. It’s important to focus on best practice examples and a flow that you can set up and you can put all of your own processes and all of your own tasks into. Successful onboarding will likely happen if the hiring managers or team leaders are able to see the training of onboarding from the perspective of the learner. The hiring managers or team leaders must ensure that the process is simple to follow and to use the right technology to support it. 

Onboarding remote employees is a good investment. When remote onboarding is created based on an organized communication and clear expectations from the start, new employees will feel confident in their ability to meet their new responsibilities. An engaged, well equipped and happy remote team creates a harmonious working environment.

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