When your company has an extensive, global presence, chances are you will work with employees situated in different geographical locations. At some point, you will have to work with a number of colleagues via the web or video conferences to accomplish a project or two. However, the efficiency of having virtual team members is also accompanied by the struggle of onboarding and maintaining the momentum of these employees. This is why it’s crucial to make sure that your company has an organized system when it comes to onboarding and training remote employees. A well-thought-of onboarding process will ensure that these new employees are instantly introduced to the team to make them feel comfortable and involved while they’re starting on their new professional journey with you. Expect to organize and be on a couple of virtual meetings to cater to these employees and be mindful of mistakes commonly committed during virtual meetings to prevent you from giving you and your company a bad impression.
You wouldn’t want your remote employees to experience less job satisfaction compared to local employees just because the latter is physically engaged and located in the workplace, do you?
Sort out all the needed documents quickly and virtually. Make sure that you have it prepared and organized ahead of time. You wouldn’t want your virtual employee backtracking several emails on his first day just because you don’t have everything intact in one place. You can create a Google Drive folder where he can access all the necessary documents that he’ll need when he starts working. This includes the contract, paper works like payroll, tax, and insurance forms, etc. and make sure that everything has been digitally signed as well.
Remember to set up their accounts and the tools needed before their first day and give them access to their logins ahead of time to keep the momentum going. If he asks or requests for anything, be prompt when responding.
If the company time and resources would allow, maybe set-up at least a day or your remote employee’s first day to personally welcome and introduce him to the team. It is a given that remote employees experience work culture differently than onsite employees which is why it pays to go the extra mile to make him or her feel comfortable for being a new member of the team.
If your remote employees’ locations are literally on the other side of the globe and it may not be practical to bring them in for an onsite meetup, you can just settle for a video conference. Invite the whole team in one conference room and have them introduce themselves, briefly explain their roles, and just a short fun fact about them. Your remote employee can do the same. This way, you’re able to make it more personal on both ends.
Also, keep your remote employees engaged in large conference calls if you hope to invite them in to learn more about the company and how conference calls are being conducted.
Another fun way of welcoming them is by sending them a ‘welcome kit’ to immediately make them feel like they’re a part of the team and that the company is really looking forward to him joining. The welcome kit can include anything from company mugs to pens, notebooks, ID, company journal, leadership books, company calendar, and or a personal welcome note from the CEO, etc. It’s one way of reaching out and reminding them that we appreciate you for joining us even from being situated miles away.
Develop a training plan and a coaching schedule for new hires to help them adapt easier and for them to better understand the company culture, products and services, and their priorities and goals. The key here is to make sure that you set your expectations straight. Walk them through what is expected of them in their first three months and in the long run and also ask what they hope to accomplish in their time with your company. Schedule coaching sessions.
Have them go through orientations per line of business if needed and tech sessions for the tools and software needed for him to perform his job effectively.
You can use the same Google drive to upload all the necessary resources and references that he can check into for assistance. This can also include work assessments, a list of tasks to be completed or other company-related files. You should also give him a directory of all the other employees per department so that he’d know who to specifically call for any kind of concerns.
Remember that time when you started and felt overwhelmed with all the tasks and expectations and how you instantly felt better because Susan or John is just one desk away to help you onboard? Imagine feeling overwhelmed but having no one beside you to reach out to and ask for help. That’s where the mentor or buddy system comes in. To help them understand the company culture from another perspective, pair them with a mentor or a buddy at least for their first 30 to 60 days. They are onsite employees assigned to new virtual hires to keep them up-to-date with company events and meetings and assist them with their work for the first few months. It’s also necessary to assign people from the same department so they can offer more relevant insight and best practices.
Apart from giving them a nice welcome meeting, it’s also important to foster relationships within team members regardless if they’re working onsite or remotely. It may be tougher for virtual employees to build relationships with most of the teammates situated on site but it’s possible. Schedule team meetings including your virtual employee. Engage in virtual meeting icebreakers to make him feel more comfortable and to allow him to get to know his teammates better. This also fosters trust and allows for more effective collaboration between them.
It’s important to check in with them on a daily basis and see how they’re doing. You can schedule video calls with them once or twice a week or depending on the need to do so. Assure them that you can be reached via the messaging app being used within the office should they come across any questions. Remember to be proactive online when it comes to communicating day-to-day needs because they’re not someone you can easily be reminded of their tasks when you walk down the hall.
You have to be willing to constantly make adjustments in terms of the onboarding process and procedures to see which one works best for every new remote employee. Remember that when you welcome a remote employee, you’re not just creating a foundation for growth and trust, you’re also setting the ground for a career’s worth of productivity and achievement.
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