Five Essential Remote Onboarding Tips

The number of remote workers in the United States has increased by 87 percent since the start of the pandemic, according to FlexJobs. This sudden disruption poses a new challenge to employee onboarding practices. Although parts can be easily overlooked when we’re busy, the importance of onboarding new employees shouldn’t be underestimated. A positive onboarding experience can lead to better-adjusted employees, a more clear understanding of job expectations, and according to a survey by Sapling, it can improve retention by 82 percent. 

There are a number of things to consider as employers reconceive remote onboarding policies including welcome packages, paperwork, and training to name a few. We also can’t forget about the more discreet considerations. A 6Q article outlines the compromise of company culture and a lack of communication as two of the most common remote workforce faux pas to avoid. Put in the work to mitigate these challenges, and set your team up for success with these five onboarding tips for a remote workforce.

1. Build a positive culture

As Tricia Score, a sales leader with Microsoft in Denmark put it, the importance of human moments can be easily forgotten when workforces are remote. Lack of direct human connection can negatively impact a company’s culture. By recognizing this, you can focus on simple but meaningful employee communication. For example, make a point of celebrating birthdays and work anniversaries, set aside time for virtual team bonding, and have daily video conferences to connect. According to Forbes, successful remote working companies make the shift by using guiding principles and conviction to take company culture outside office walls.

Listen to Conquer Local Podcast with George Leith: Onboarding a Remote Workforce with Tricia Score.

When building a remote team, imparting the practices and principles of company culture in the onboarding process encourages new members to feel included and useful. Thankfully, a myriad of techniques are available to communicate and share culture throughout employee onboarding. Many companies have adopted the practice of virtually welcoming new employees at company-wide meetings, where individuals introduce themselves, talk about their past experiences, and what they bring to the company. Other suggestions include clarifying company values, making time to learn about individuals, and encouraging communication with all team members using virtual office tools.

2. Cope with a fully remote workforce

The transition from every day at the office to every day working from home can be a bumpy road. Depending on the circumstance, remote working can be especially isolating for some more than others. Score’s advice to leaders includes the creation of regular daily team stand-ups and mandating that cameras should be turned on for all virtual sessions. Create structure by setting clear expectations during the onboarding process. This onboarding checklist by Workable includes tips ranging from creating a welcome package, including company swag, to using human resource tools for initial paperwork and administrative setup.

3. Maintain relationships

Effective employee onboarding includes building personal connections and trust with team members. Score recommends casual meetings to check in with individual employees. She takes time out of her day to connect with new sales team members over video to assure them that they are not alone. Tying too much business into these conversations removes a necessary human focus.

Another tactic to maintain relationships is to introduce an internal buddy system. Score states that 75 percent of people think it’s important to have mentors, but only 50 percent say they actually do. According to Sapling, 87 percent of employees feel that mentorship programs boost new hire proficiency. This creates opportunities for employees to innovate, learn, and communicate.

“People buy from people, people learn from people, people are mentored by people, people are coached by people. We can never take the people factor out of what we do. Regardless of if we’re selling, hiring employees, or if we’re onboarding.”

Tricia Score

Sales Team Lead, Microsoft

4. Find the best technology options

Microsoft is a huge technology company, but Score recalls that the hiring of three new fully remote employees onto her sales team last year was a challenge despite having great tools at their disposal. As Vendasta podcast host and sales thought leader George Leith says, “Just because you have the tech, you still have to deploy it with the best practice to be successful” (Conquer Local Podcast Ep. 333). Work smarter, not harder by leveraging platforms and tools that do the heavy lifting for you. These platforms and tools ultimately shape internal communication and collaboration. 

ProofHub compiled a list of digital tools that are highly rated in their areas of specialty and many are available in the Vendasta Marketplace:

  1. Shared File Management: Google Drive, Dropbox 
  2. Communications: Slack, Troop Messenger
  3. Video Conferencing: Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams
  4. Project Management Software: Vendasta’s Task Manager, Asana, Trello

Vendasta has included express versions of its most popular tools to help local businesses go digital. Ease the transition, build culture, and retain your new hires using the right tools.

Check out the Local Business Online Toolkit that Vendasta offers for free.

5. Refine the onboarding process

It’s time to evaluate how the onboarding experience felt for the new hire as well as if it went smoothly on the management side. Once you’ve set up your employees for success, ask for and use feedback, and take the opportunity to refine the complete work-from-home process. Find out what worked, what didn’t track, and do it all again, but better. Adaptive, resilient workforces build strong companies. Effective onboarding practices are the foundation for success.

Innovative companies with leaders who champion the process will continue to perform well. Effective onboarding practices ensure remote employees achieve success with your company well into the future. By employing these five tips, you’re well on your way to a stronger, more successful team no matter where everyone is located.

About the Author

Emily is a Content Marketing Specialist at Vendasta. Over her career, Emily has worked as a Marketing Strategist, freelanced as a Social Media manager, and enjoyed working events for local and national not-for-profit agencies. When she's not researching her next blog topics you can bet she's challenging a friend to a card game or planning a hike in the wilderness.

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