Onboarding is a key moment when new hires decide to stick with you or jump ship.
It provides you with a unique opportunity to make an impression that stays with your new team members for the whole duration of their careers.
However, onboarding a new hire remotely is more challenging than doing it in person.
This is because, with no face-to-face interaction, a new employee’s first days on the job can be disheartening.
If you’re not careful, a poor onboarding process can lead to new team members feeling disengaged and helpless about a work issue – which can ultimately increase new hire turnover.
So, what do you do?
In this post, I offer a rundown of the remote onboarding process, along with tips for overcoming common challenges and delivering an engaging onboarding experience.
So let’s jump into it!
Table of contents:
- Remote onboarding: What is it & what makes it challenging
- 5 simple steps to a great remote onboarding process
1. Remote Onboarding: What Is It & What Makes It Challenging
Remote onboarding is the process of welcoming new members to your team and familiarising them with your company culture and policies.
The onboarding process is critical to employee success.
According to the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), 69 % of employees say they’ll stay with a company for three years if they experience great onboarding.
Also, research by Glassdoor revealed that an engaging onboarding experience can improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.
A good onboarding process should help your new team members:
- Understand their roles and responsibilities
- Meet their teammates
- Get familiar with the company’s software and procedures
- Get acclimated to the workplace
- Learning the basic rules and regulations that define your business
- Feel welcome
Onboarding new hires remotely is one of the trickiest challenges you must face – especially when you run a small business.
This is because it is your responsibility as a founder to ensure your new team members have everything they need to reach their full potential in their new roles.
So how can you get your new team members to feel welcome without the office tour and face-to-face introductions? How can you read their body language?
How can you avoid common logistical problems that may arise when you don’t have a physical office to meet your team?
While the differences between traditional and remote onboarding aren’t that big, you need to know exactly the steps to be taken so you can check all the boxes from afar.
What makes remote onboarding challenging is that you need to find ways to help new employees build an emotional connection with the team.
`That’s no easy feat, considering that team members don’t share the same space.
Another challenge that comes with remote onboarding is that new team members may be unfamiliar with new tools or processes – all while receiving an avalanche of information in a short amount of time.
That can often turn the excitement of starting a new job into an overwhelming experience.
Not to mention that if you squeeze the whole process into the first week or two, your new hires will simply drown in your onboarding.
All that will result in a feeling equivalent to drinking from a firehose.
We’ll take a more in-depth look at how to overcome the challenges that come with remote onboarding, but first, we should clear up some common misconceptions:
- For many business owners, a common assumption is that employees’ skills and competencies matter more than the cultural fit. When in fact, the exact opposite is true. Check out this post on how to recruit and hire top talent for your remote business if you want to ensure a new recruit is a good fit and avoid the costs associated with a bad hire.
- Onboarding is an ongoing process. Even if you’re managing a small team, it can last anywhere from a couple of months to half a year. So don’t expect it to take just a couple of weeks to complete properly.
- Don’t confuse induction with onboarding. Induction is mostly task-focused, and often includes the assignment of workspaces, tasks, and software logins. While on the other hand, onboarding means assimilating new hires into the company’s culture and training them to be successful in their new role.
That being said, let’s explore the best ways to get your new hires up to speed and avoid common traps when onboarding in a remote position.
2. 5 Simple Steps to a Great Remote Onboarding Process
Remote onboarding requires a bit of planning, but you can still set new team members up for success with the right strategy in place.
Use these tips to make sure new team members are set up with the tools and information they need to settle into their new job.
- Take time to preboard new hires
Preboarding means engaging new team members before they even “step foot” in your virtual office.
Typically, it refers to the period of time between a new hire accepting their job offer and their first day.
Preboarding is essential to avoid bombarding new hires with heaps of information on day one and drum up some excitement towards their new position.
This is a great time to send general HR documents new hires need to fill out or invite them to any tools they’ll need access to.
While you can’t make it a requirement that they access and learn new tools and systems prior to their start date, this is a great way to build engagement and maintain consistent communication.
- Avoid information overload
While you might think that providing every bit of information you have is the best way to set new hires up for success, that can only overwhelm your new starters.
According to ELMO’s 2020 HR Industry Benchmark Report which surveyed over 1500 HR and payroll professionals In Australia and New Zealand, one-quarter of respondents believe that information overload is a top challenge for the onboarding process.
Instead of bombarding new hires with information, start with knowledge-based training that only encompasses essential information, such as logins and access to systems.
Once they have the basics down, you can continue to drip-feed information so you can help your new team members retain important items and adjust to the new work environment.
- Build strong culture and relationships
Remote team members often feel isolated.
In a virtual workplace, chances are new hires feel overwhelmed and anxious as they show up at their desk (or kitchen table) on their first days on the job.
That’s why you have to nurture your company culture in order to keep them connected to the larger team.
To set the foundation for your business’s virtual culture, it is important to use a centralised virtual office to gather remote teams and potential clients online.
A professional virtual office will make remote teams feel like they are co-located, which contributes to a strong culture and sense of belonging.
- Share communication guidelines
In a remote environment, communication is key.
Make sure your new hires are clear about which communication tools they should use for what.
For example, you can specify when to use Slack and what type of content to share and when to schedule Zoom meetings.
You may also want to set clear expectations about what a reasonable response time is and specify how often they should communicate project status updates.
- Use employee onboarding tools
In a virtual workspace, you can’t rely on traditional processes and paperwork when it comes to onboarding new hires.
Luckily, with the abundance of new tools available, you can create a seamless onboarding experience.
Here are some of the best onboarding tools on the market right now:
Conclusion: The best onboarding experiences aren’t the ones that help new team members understand their roles and responsibilities the fastest.
Instead, a good onboarding experience is one that gives new team members time to acclimate to the new work culture so they feel comfortable and confident in their new job.
With these tips, you’re empowered to set new hires up for success and deliver an outstanding remote onboarding process.
For a successful onboarding process, you have to set a foundation of trust and create a company culture that employees will love. For remote small businesses, that is only achievable with a professional virtual office where your remote teams can collaborate, meet, and co-work. For more information about our virtual services, you can contact us anytime – We’d be happy to hear from you!