How to Onboard a Remote Employee

Making a remote employees feel like they’re part of the team.

It’s Monday at 9 AM and Karen’s first day on the job. Of course, Karen isn’t in the office. She’s the team’s first remote employee. This makes the usual welcoming procedures for her first day somewhat difficult. 

Onboarding a remote employee can be a tricky process, but doing it correctly can be the difference between having the employee feel connected or not. The onboarding process, in fact, should start before the employee ever walks through the door. 

Here are some tips for making sure that your remote employee feels like a part of the team.

Paperwork
Send all paperwork, such as tax, payroll and insurance forms via email. Make sure that a follow-up call is done to help the new employee fill-in the paperwork properly, and to answer any questions regarding the forms.

Have them sign and submit the paperwork electronically.

Laptops and Technology
Ship a laptop and other things needed to equip their home office. Make sure that the laptop comes pre-installed with all of the software that the employee will need. Have someone from your team orient the new hire on the organization’s systems and processes. 

Consider establishing a policy where the remote hire can go out and purchase office supplies up to a certain amount and then get reimbursed.

The Mentor
The first 2 months for a remote hire can feel overwhelming. Establish a key contact for the new hire to help them through the first few weeks (and beyond).The mentor can help the new employee adjust, troubleshoot and feel like a part of the team.

The Team
Use videoconferencing (assuming that the new hire can’t come into the office for the first few days) to introduce the new hire to the rest of the team. According to this article from the Society for Human Resource Management, video conferencing can be a valuable tool for keeping remote hires connected to the organization.

Discuss Expectations
Have the remote employee’s manager connect prior to the start date. Encourage the conversation to be a two-way street, where expectations are discussed. Typically, remote employees are highly self-motivated and self-directed. In fact, research shows that they are almost twice as likely to work longer hours than their on-site counterparts. That being said, establishing specific, measurable outcomes for what the remote employee needs to accomplish is critical to ensuring productivity and preventing burnout. Discuss which specific hours the employee needs to be available.

Regular Contact
Regular one-on-one’s must be scheduled to ensure that the remote employee feels connected to the team. One-on-ones allow managers to give and receive feedback. They are also critical for tracking progress and course correcting if needed.

Conference call the remote employee into all team meetings. It will be hard for the remote employee to build bonds with the rest of the team, so encourage some level of digital camaraderie. Maybe it’s a monthly, online team meeting, but however it’s pursued, infusing the company culture into digital interactions is critical in keeping a remote employee connected.

Read this article from the Harvard Business Review to learn how to have productive one-on-ones.

In the Office
It goes without saying, that face-to-face interaction is valuable in facilitating a connection between employees and an organization. If possible, have your remote worker meet team members and key stakeholders in person, or periodically come into the office (this is all subject to geographical location of course). The occasional visit will go a long way to making the remote employee feel like a part of team.

Key Takeaways
Conducting a proper onboarding process for remote employees is critical for maximizing productivity and retaining a potentially valuable team member. Ensure that the remote employee feels connected to the rest of the team whether it’s through regular conference calls, video chats or team meetings. Send all of the equipment and software that the employee needs in advance. Schedule regular one-on-one meetings to give and receive feedback, and have a mentor in place to help guide the remote employee during their first few weeks (and beyond). Establish expectations from the beginning and be prepared to offer additional support to a remote employee as they adjust to their role.

Your Next Step
No one should walk the job search or hiring road alone. At Clarity Recruitment we help others realize their success through a process that marries proprietary technology with unwavering commitment. Contact us today to take control of your career, or to partner with us to hire well.

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