Onboarding best practices for remote workers

For many businesses, remote workers are pivotal to getting things done and staying ahead. Remote work gives employees flexibility about when and where to do their tasks, while the business saves on office space costs. Teams embracing remote work or requiring it to function will significantly benefit from polishing up their onboarding.

Companies with excellent employee onboarding reported 82% better employee retention, and yet only 12% of companies had employees who liked their onboarding process. Your company could stand out for jobs that are easy to learn how to do, which never hurts. Review some of the best onboarding practices when hiring for remote work.

Why is onboarding important for remote workers?

Since remote team members don't interact in person with co-workers, they may need more time and assistance to get used to the software, workplace expectations, and other details. Since remote workers are doing their job from a device, creating an onboarding and general remote work platform usable from as many devices as possible is also wise. To take it a step further, delve into the following secrets of effective remote employee onboarding.

Onboarding best practices

Get everyone on the same system quickly

A company can help remote workers get organized when employees have a consistent work platform. While many businesses introduce the system gradually with only a few people, this structure compromises the chance to get immediate familiarity with the digital workplace you've chosen or created from day one. You should have a plan to begin immediately after orientation, adding employees to the system with the passwords and access information they need. It also comforts everyone that the onboarding and orientation are planned-out and won't take too long.

Create practice tasks that pay

The goal of onboarding is to get someone up and running at full speed, and a paid learning process can be motivating and supportive. Generally, it's wise to pay for remote workers' time to learn their duties and develop an efficient routine. It also puts some impetus on the employee to learn the system quickly to start earning even more.

Stay consistent with onboarding time expectations

The following techniques can help you stay consistent with onboarding time expectations:

•          Once you've planned a fantastic onboarding system and are ready to let employees in, stick to whatever learning pace and structure feels best for the task at hand.

•          Consider a three-month onboarding process for a beginner-level programming job or a no-time-limit system for an online data entry job.

There's no need to enforce a singular window for training time if you are hiring remote workers for different positions.

"The goal of onboarding is to get someone up and running at full speed, and a paid learning process can be motivating and supportive."

Present an ethical data use policy

One of the best benefits you could give remote workers is data protection. Let your team members know that you are a safe company to work for by being clear about data usage. If people understand what data your company collects and why it reduces the risk of any onboarding delays over security concerns.

Teach your tasks and your culture

The point of onboarding is to get your remote employees familiar with the literal tasks they need to do and how to do them. However, one superb tip is ensuring the process also includes what your company culture is all about. Communicating a direct mission statement and having shared goals are helpful. Still, if, for example, your company highly values accessibility, you might consider how your onboarding system is accessible at every step.

Create a digital brand guide

Separate from the guidelines remote workers need to do their job, creating an easily accessible, downloadable brand guide is also a great idea. Not only does this brand guide help introduce your company culture and how to represent it, but it helps save you from frequently asked questions. Anyone representing your company directly, such as through a sales job, will benefit greatly from this guide.

Use video check-ins for individual improvement

Conference calls with multiple employees are generally not the best time to discuss areas where a remote worker could improve. Instead, you could maintain a policy of individual video check-ins with managers, such as two check-ins halfway through and after your company's training. The one-on-one face time is a chance to privately express concerns or ask questions on both sides, keeping communication free-flowing.

Appoint a liaison for remote worker onboarding

It's wise to appoint someone as a go-to for new remote employees. This liaison offers several benefits for employers:

•          The team member can provide questions and guidance for onboarding, answering simple and more complex questions. Employees will have questions you might not have predicted when designing your onboarding system. It pays to have an individual who can respond quickly or refer more complex questions to you.

•          As a tip, the person acting as a remote work onboarding community manager should ideally be a different person from the employee's actual job manager. This distinction will make employees feel much more comfortable asking whatever questions they need answering.

Do something to welcome remote team members

Anything you can do to create a connection to your company before someone even starts onboarding will help make them feel welcome and motivate them to learn quickly. Upon being hired, a care package or welcome brochure linking to essential pages online and what the company expects could set a great tone and inspire the person to work even more productively. Apart from mailing something, you could have a friendly pre-onboarding chat that isn't entirely about work, implementing some team-building activities.

Accept feedback and update your onboarding

Many companies use instructional wiki sites with pages answering specific questions, and these pages can be rated. Anything that makes up your core teaching process, like lessons in an online course platform, could benefit from some feedback. As long as you allow data to gather, you'll sense how to help employees get up to speed quickly. Explore some of the affordable employee feedback software services you can use.

Add a few team socializing opportunities

People might develop different types of friendships and small talk patterns in a standard office full of commuting employees. With a remote team member, especially one you can't meet in person, it's helpful to look at ways to implement a little socializing into the team member's week. Virtual interviews to check progress can include talking about off-topic subjects for a few minutes. For example, an online employee discussion forum or social intranet platform could allow frequent questions to be answered and create a place to socialize.

Find fun replacements for common office perks

A typical workplace office might have the occasional snacks, birthday parties, and other little activities or breaks from daily duties. For remote employees, you might be able to replicate those little positive benefits with delivery services, such as the occasional gift basket or care package. Online video conference games can help people break the ice. If your office had gym facilities, on-site child care, and other benefits, think about how you might deliver a similar value to a new remote worker.

One of the strongest, rarest remote worker benefits a company can offer is having the fastest, most encouraging onboarding system. Overall, onboarding best practices are similar for remote employees or any other type. If new remote team members work together through an online system, it will likely pay off to invest a little effort to get them all up to speed simultaneously. The premise is much the same for structures where you onboard one position at a time.

Discover more tips for remote work and managing employees:

Read more details on why employers must embrace remote and hybrid work.

See the discussion on what post-pandemic perks get employees back to the office.

Get the scoop on how small business hiring is stronger than ever.

Check out four ways small businesses can reward employees when budgets are tight.

View CareerBuilder recruiting solutions.


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