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How to Onboard Remote Employees and Help Them Feel Part of the Team

November 20th, 2017 by Jen McKenzie

All of your employees should experience the benefits of a formal onboarding program. This enables them to learn about company culture, learn the ropes and even become a part of the team. While this is more commonly associated with on-site employees, even virtual or remote workers should have this same experience.

However, it can be a challenge to effectively complete an onboarding program with remote workers because of the distance between the two work environments. While challenging, onboarding all employees can enhance employee satisfaction and boost retention rates. With the right strategy, you can more effectively develop an exceptional onboarding program for remote workers.

Why Onboarding is Important
Before you spend ample time creating an onboarding program that will be effective for your remote workers, you must understand the importance of your effort. One key benefit associated with onboarding your virtual workers is for them to learn the company culture and get to know their coworkers so that they feel comfortable communicating with them and even asking questions when needed.

Your new hires also need to learn about company processes and even to be properly trained on important processes. Proper onboarding will help your new hires to begin working more efficiently and very early on in their employment with your company. It can also foster a team environment and improve employee satisfaction across the board.

Onboarding Remote Employees
Now that you understand the importance of onboarding, you must then create an effective plan for doing so. Remember that onboarding your remote workers may be challenging because they usually cannot come into the office. The entire process is done through video chats and phone calls. Time zone differences may also be a factor.

If possible, bring the individual into the office. Otherwise, create an individualized remote onboarding process for each employee depending on their position and responsibilities. As you move forward with the development of your onboarding program, focus your attention on these practices.

Connect Face-to-Face
While some aspects of onboarding may be completed over the phone or in a conference call with important team members that your new hire may need to work closely with, it is critical that your new hire has ample face-to-face time. If your new hire cannot make it into the office during the first week of employment, video conferencing is the next best thing.

During the video conference, the individual can meet the team and even establish great bonds with new co-workers. Video conferencing allows individuals to make eye contact, put a name to a face and even observe body language so that they can know more about their co-workers. While it may be best to have an on-site onboarding program, video conferencing eliminates the cost and stress associated with traveling, and it can provide many of the same benefits as an on-site meeting.

Set Clear Expectations
After you have formalized the employee contract and before the official start date, communicate your professional expectations as well as any set-up instructions for your new virtual employee. This will enable your remote worker to start working more responsibly right from the get-go. This important aspect of an onboarding program helps your new hire to set goals and understand their role in the company.

It can help them to work more efficiently and can dramatically reduce first-day jitters. This stage of the onboarding process should explain the tools that your team will use to communicate, share files, work with managers and more. This gives your new employee time to set up their home office and learn how to use the technology necessary for work. Keep this part of onboarding in writing so that your virtual worker can refer back to it as needed.

Make Them Feel Welcome
When your office has a team mentality and everyone feels valued, connected and important, efficiency and productivity can skyrocket. With this type of work environment, everyone will feel free to share ideas and experiences, and the team can grow as a result. Your new hires should feel included in the team from day one.

Therefore, plan to introduce them to your team early on their first day if possible, and ensure that your entire team is receptive to their new role in the company. You may even ask a seasoned employee to act as a mentor to ensure a smooth and easy transition into the team environment. However, all relevant team members should be open and willing to help the new hire in different ways as well.

Evaluate and Refine the Process
As is the case with any type of new process in your organization, you should actively review and refine the process so that it can work more effectively for future remote new hires. Ask for feedback from your remote workers about their experience with the process and things that they would change.
You can also ask others on your team for their feedback from a different perspective. During this process, you may also identify questions or concerns that your new hire has, and you can address these to ensure greater job satisfaction.

Each new hire that you bring into the fold will contribute to your team in new and often valuable ways. You should embrace the benefits associated with new ways of thinking and fresh ideas. To encourage a great connection with your remote worker, spend ample time creating an effective onboarding process that benefits the new hire as well as the rest of the team.

Click the link to view the recent INFINITI HR blog: A Guide to Employee Recognition or check back for more on human resources, payroll, insurance and benefits.

About the author
Jen McKenzie is a self-employed author hailing from New York, NY. She writes extensively on business, education and human resource topics. When Jennifer is not at her desk working, you can usually find her hiking or taking a road trip with her two dogs. You can reach Jennifer @jenmcknzie.




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