Investing in a robust onboarding program is highly beneficial. Companies with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and boost productivity by over 70%.

As more companies shift to remote work in the wake of the coronavirus, one challenge is onboarding remote employees. The physical distance with remote workers means you can’t personally meet with them or show them around the office.

Fortunately, technology makes it easy to welcome new hires, but there are some things to keep in mind. Here we’ll look at best practices to onboard remote employees.

1. Sort all paperwork virtually

Employees today expect streamlined onboarding processes. But one of the more cumbersome aspects of onboarding is the amount of paperwork involved.

Organizations have to verify the identity of new hires and send in the right forms. This process can take hours for HR teams to handle, making it more difficult for employees to get started.

Sort all the necessary paperwork for new hires before their official start date. Use services like DocuSign or HelloSign to virtually send and receive legally binding documents.

While you wait for electronic signatures, set up accounts and essential logins for new hires to keep the momentum going. Use automated workflow software to help you keep track of your tasks and what you need to do next.

2. Have all equipment ready

Companies provide office workers with the equipment they need to get their work done. These can include computers, monitors, printers, phones, and more.

Remote employees can use their own equipment. But the downside here is that the equipment they have may not be compatible with your systems or could pose security risks.


Read more: Cybersecurity measures L&D professionals should introduce to remote teams


Arrange to have all the necessary equipment sent to remote employees to ensure they can do their work before their official start date. Be sure to prepare any documentation they might need to help them get set up.

3. Create training materials

Don’t just expect new hires to know what to do. If you want employees to perform their tasks well, they need to have a clear understanding of what their responsibilities are.

Being in different locations makes it difficult to bring remote workers up to speed. But you can leverage technology to your advantage.

Use platforms like a learning management system to document company policies and create training materials. New hires can go through these materials and refer back to them when needed.

Consider investing in training videos to create onboarding videos. Including videos in your onboarding process is useful for demonstrating how more complex tasks are performed.


Read more: Why video training content is better than PowerPoint today


4. Introduce new hires

It’s easy enough to bring a team together to welcome new hires at the office. But it’s a little trickier when you have remote employees who may be on the other side of the country.

At the same time, it’s important to introduce new hires to the rest of the team to make them feel like they’re part of the company.

Schedule a short block of time and inform your staff. Then set up a short video call to introduce your new hire and have each person briefly introduce themselves.

If it’s not practical to set up a video chat, you can also include introduction emails in the next company newsletter you send out.

5. Create a “virtual water cooler”

Working remotely certainly has its benefits — employees spend less time commuting and they’re even more productive.


Read more: Working from home – good for both companies and employees


But it’s easy for remote employees to feel isolated from their team. They can’t exactly stop for a quick chat with their coworkers during downtime or join in on lunch breaks.

Many remote workers note a lack of social connection as one of the biggest challenges of working remotely. This is where using digital tools can bring remote employees together.

Slack is a popular messaging platform that enables teams to collaborate. You can use the platform to create channels for company projects.

Another way to use Slack is to create a virtual “water cooler.” The idea is to provide a space where employees can chat about anything. Remote employees can feel more connected to their team and take a short break from work when needed.


Read more: How cloud computing can onboard and train employees


6. Schedule one-on-one meetings

Providing training materials allows remote employees to understand their roles and how certain processes work at the company. But it’s still a good idea to hold regular one-on-one meetings with new hires and provide support as needed.

It may take some time for new remote employees to adjust to their new roles. Use the initial one-on-one meeting to simply check-in and ask if they have any questions.

Use automation tools to schedule video chats or voice calls at least once a week. When scheduling meetings with remote workers, be sure to consider their time zone when sending over a request.


Read more: Things to consider when designing training to upskill remote workers


As new hires become more comfortable in their roles, you can gradually reduce the frequency of meetings and turn to other communication channels like messaging.

Regularly checking in with remote employees is an effective way to establish rapport and build trust. It also gives them the opportunity to ensure they’re on the right track.


Read more: The trifecta of trust in a learning organization


7. Revisit your onboarding process

High employee turnover rates are costly for any organization.

Open vacancies mean lost revenue and productivity. You also need time to spend resources to bring on new hires and train them before they can take on their roles.

A strong onboarding program is key as it can improve employee engagement and reduce turnover rates. Yet too many organizations don’t measure the effectiveness of their onboarding programs.

This hinders the ability of organizations to improve their onboarding process. Measure metrics like turnover rates and eNPS (Employee Net Promoter Scores) to gauge employee satisfaction.

Make it a point to revisit your employee onboarding program. What can you do to make it even better? Use an internal communication tool like ContactMonkey to gather feedback from your employees.


Read more: 3 Ways in which onboarding is key to employee retention


Conclusion

A successful onboarding program is absolutely crucial for any organization. It helps new hires understand their roles and feel like they’re part of a team.

As more employees shift to remote work, it’s essential to make a strong first impression as a sloppy onboarding process reflects poorly on your organization. Follow the best practices outlined here to onboard remote employees.

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