7 Tips for Onboarding New Talent Remotely
Onboarding properly is the best way to build a lasting positive relationship with employees and make sure they’re happy in their role at the company. Most businesses already have a general onboarding procedure in place but these traditional plans need some adjusting to remain effective in the current business world where remote work is increasingly common.
Tactics like shadowing, ramping up, and buddy systems all require regular monitoring that might not be feasible in a remote working environment. Fortunately, the same new technology that has made the recent uptick in remote work possible also offers unique solutions to these onboarding problems.
Whether you’re new to remote working or trying to revamp an existing plan to make onboarding remotely easier, try out some of the tips in this guide for a smooth process.
What is Onboarding?
Onboarding is the process by which new hires are introduced to the company, their coworkers, their responsibilities, and workplace culture. Incidental paperwork and introductory material that can be covered in a day or two is generally a part of an orientation session that may or may not form a significant part of the onboarding process.
Some corporations, for example, have their new designers and other creative new hires go through intensive training sessions that extend for weeks. This is because there is a ton of brand history and design guidelines that have to be maintained by everyone.
Taking the most limited view of onboarding, we might conclude that it’s a non-specific term for the first couple of weeks when a new hire is still getting the hang of things. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
How Long Should Onboarding Last?
The length of time onboarding new talent takes will vary with the sort of job they’re starting. Senior talent and executive-level new hires could well be going through the onboarding process for the better part of a year or more because there is so much for them to learn. Usually, you can assume that the longer you expect a new employee to stay with the company, the longer the onboarding should probably be.
That’s because onboarding is a vital employee retention strategy. Clear communication about goals and responsibilities helps workers understand what’s expected of them, which means they’ll be better equipped to deliver on those expectations to mutual benefit for themselves and the company.
Rather than concentrating on a fixed end date for onboarding new talent, it might be more helpful to think about when onboarding new talent should start. Begin onboarding as soon as possible, even before the candidate is officially hired, to make sure that everything is clear and they’re properly introduced to the company and its goals.
The 4 Stages of Onboarding for Remote Jobs
This is only a rough map of a generic onboarding process that will change depending on company structure, the specific job, and the size of the team. However, onboarding new talent typically has the following stages:
Before you actually select a candidate, you should have a definite onboarding process organized and in place. In fact, this procedure should be designed and tailored to the goals of the company before new roles are even created.
The sooner you start thinking about your onboarding process as an integral part of every employee’s relationship with the company and build a fixed procedure that allows every new hire to join the team and have clear communication channels within the organization, the more successful your onboarding will become.
- Week One
Communication and responsibility standards established in the first week of employment are likely to stand throughout an individual’s career with a company. That first week sets the tone and it’s critical to be as informative as possible and give new hires everything they need to fulfill their role.
This is also when you establish expectations and set milestones, including for the remainder of the onboarding process. People who know what to expect and what’s expected of them are in a much better position to succeed. They might not be experts by the end of the first week, but the initial onboarding process should demonstrate the company’s history, culture, and values in an authentic and approachable way.
- 90 Days
Building up to the first 90 days should function as a continuation of the successful practices used in the first week of onboarding a new employee. In addition to getting the new hire better acquainted with the company, this period should also integrate them with the rest of the team. For creatives, that means stakeholders as well as coworkers.
Ramping up also typically occurs in the first ninety days. It’s common to establish benchmarks at 30, 60, and 90 days, although that by no means guarantees that onboarding will be finished in the first 3 months.
- 6 Months – 1 Year
Onboarding is likely to transform into retention and future planning by the end of the first year, but before you reach that stage, you should see the full scope of an employee’s dedication, motivation, and productivity. If the rest of the onboarding process has been effective up to that point, the individual’s future with the company should be clear.
Most people decide if they’ll stay with a company within the first 6 months of working there. While some are a natural fit, it’s just as common for people and organizations not to mix. That first 6 months is a great time to get new perspective on the company, it’s functions, and current problems through fresh eyes, so make sure to get new hires involved as soon as possible and use surveys to take advantage of this opportunity.
Onboarding for Remote Jobs Vs Traditional Onboarding
The four stages we just discussed are equally important when you’re onboarding remotely. There are some new challenges presented by the virtual workspace but there are also plenty of new convenient tools that can help you rise to meet these challenges.
An office tour on the first day is a hallmark of traditional onboarding and a great example of how onboarding remotely changes the game a bit. Obviously you can’t physically meet new hires if you’re in a remote workspace, but that workspace can still be introduced as part of a digital tour. Show new hires the most important tools they’ll need to do their job and, most importantly, what they’ll need to know to get through the first stages of the onboarding process.
Communication is more important for onboarding remotely. Since remote workers are more or less isolated, they’ll need to hear from managers and coworkers to build up the sense that they have actually become part of a team. Otherwise, they could wind up feeling like they’re on their own.
If new hires start to second guess themselves or aren’t sure exactly what they should be doing, they’ll look for someone to ask. Ensuring that there is such a person available is the key to success – failing to identify that person and supporting the new hire throughout the onboarding process could leave them stranded and frustrated.
Tools Used for Remote Onboarding
Bringing someone new onto the team without ever having met them is challenging. Too often, managers are the go-to person performing all the onboarding, and for remote workers, that will prevent them from integrating with the rest of the team.
Here are some of the best tools to use to make onboarding for remote jobs easy and effective:
- Video Conferencing Platforms
Different companies prefer certain platforms for video conferencing, but whichever one you choose, it will be the backbone of the onboarding process. Remote workers need to see who they’re talking to and everyone on the team should see each other as soon and as often as possible to understand that they are still working with human beings.
- Document Signing Software
Paperwork can be a huge speed bump when it come to the first week of orientation. Remote work and document signing software help solve this problem because they allow new hires to read through orientation and HR materials on their own time and then sign where they need to and send everything back.
As long as you make sure new hires know who to go to with questions, software has made paperwork one of the easiest parts of onboarding remotely.
- Collaboration Programs
To keep the team working together, there are some programs that are absolutely essential. Not only will chat software allow everyone to communicate and create channels for particular subjects, but live documents and digital workspaces allow teams of people to collaborate and provide feedback to one another.
These programs are essential to the work of any creative and that means they should also be a cornerstone of the onboarding process.
7 Tips for Onboarding New Talent Remotely
Although it’s a bit different from traditional onboarding, onboarding for remote jobs can be just as effective and much less of a timesuck for existing talent if you use some of these tips:
1- Change the Timeline
Even if you can accomplish the same goals in a virtual workspace as you can ina traditional office, the standard goals you set for 30, 60, and 90 days out will need to change if you’re onboarding new talent remotely. More than altering the goals themselves, changing the timeline should focus on giving enough time for the new hire to get acclimated and make sure they can accomplish what’s needed.
For example, you might make more frequent benchmarks at 45, 75, and 120 days while pushing some goals to later dates. That way, the onboarding can be more focused and less stressful for everyone.
2- Introduce the Team ASAP
Knowing the tools of the trade is important, but for remote workers meeting the people they’ll be working with is frequently the clearest signal that they are beginning a new job. It’s the part of remote onboarding that’s most similar to traditional onboarding methods.
Some managers are hesitant to introduce new talent to existing staff because they worry about the impression it will leave if the new hire leaves shortly after. All the more reason to have the whole team involved earlier in the onboarding process and even before the official hiring decision is made. If existing staff weighs in, the likelihood for surprises is greatly reduced.
3- Establish an Oboarding Plan – Then Personalize It
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel everytime a new person is brought onto the team. Establishing a clear and universal onboarding plan will make everything more streamlined and it also has the benfit of making the entire process seem more official to new remote hires.
However, you should leave a little room to personalize this plan slightly. One great idea is to have separate onboarding processes for freelancers and contractors and a separate one for more permanent members of the regular full-time staff. Since they’ll have different levels of involvement with the company, it just makes sense for their onboarding process to reflect that.
4- Prevent Employee Ghosting
The lack of direct, physical oversight is one of the largest factors preventing employers from offering remote positions. While you’ll never be able to guarantee an employee won’t simply disappear from the job, there are a few tricks you can use to make it less likely. For instance, responding to messages, phone calls, and emails quickly will keep them working and make them less likely to give up on the company.
Starting the onboarding process early and keeping everything clear will give the new hire a good first impression and make them more likley to stay. Staying in touch throughout the hiring process will help as well. If the new hire was left in the dark for long stretches before they were hired, they could well feel like they were already ghosted and be more likely to do the same in the future.
5- Foster Healthy Company Culture
It’s easy enough to hold fun social events in a traditional office so people can relax and be friendly with one another. When all or part of a team is remote, holding such events is a bit more difficult. Many companies have built coffee breaks, virtual happy hours, and remote networking events into their weekly and monthly schedules so even remote workers can get into the company culture.
A feeling of openness and trustworthiness is integral to a healthy company culture. If you want to build that sort of atmosphere, complaints and other issues have to be handles the right way. HR services are too commonly ignored when a team is remote because there’s less informal interaction, but giving employees somewhere to go and giving them opportunities to show who they are as people are still important in remote work.
6- Provide Networking Opportunities
Although you might not want to sponsor events with competing businesses, if your company is large enough you can hold events for everyone to speak together on professional topics and brainstorm about ways to use this new knowledge to problem-solve during working hours.
New hires who see such events early in their career with a company are likely to be impressed and view the business as a place of open communication and friendliness. It can’t all be parties and relaxation, but provide space for it to happen once in a while.
7- Continuing Education Resources
Whether it’s a deeper look at creative practices with the company or providing a way to get more information on their profession in general, giving new hires resources for further research will keep them more motivated and involved. Plus, this skill-building will obviously benefit the company in the form of better creative work.
Some companies have started virtual book clubs for their employees to talk about the latest trends and cutting-edge techniques in their field. Of course, it can also be based around reading in general and employees can take part in the book club during off hours if they choose.
Onboarding for remote jobs is a new challenge that will likely require some adjustments to your existing plan for bringing new hires onto the team. Luckily, there are many digital tools that make the whole process easier.
The same principles still apply in the digital workplace. Clear communication, agreed-upon milestones, and a healthy company culture are essentials for making new talent happy and enticing them to stay with the company longer.