How to successfully welcome a new remote worker to the team
As remote hiring becomes the norm, a new challenge for employers is to establish how to welcome new members of a remote workforce to the team. The onboarding process should always be carefully managed. After all, you want your new hire to feel welcome and to fit into their new role comfortably. But how can you do this when you are unable to see them face-to-face?
It may be easy to hope that businesses can return to their offices once the coronavirus pandemic has passed. But we believe that many businesses may continue to focus on remote working for the foreseeable future as they review their business models. A survey from research firm Gartner has suggested that 41% of businesses expect to keep working remotely long after a return to office-based working has been permitted.
With that in mind, firms may need to start considering how they can adapt their recruitment strategies. We have previously written about how to conduct the perfect video interview, and now it’s time to turn our attention to the onboarding processes.
First impressions count
Employers may have built strong impressions of a candidate during the interview process. They will be looking to see if their impression was correct as the candidate signs in for their first day.
Remote working is undoubtedly a challenge for HR teams. Without being able to see a person face-to-face, it can be tricky to ensure a solid start. Employers may find that what works well in an office environment needs to be refined and redeveloped as part of a virtual strategy.
As the candidate will not be stepping into a physical office, clients may want to try and replicate that environment online. For example, if the company is using a specific tool to communicate virtually (perhaps a system such as Basecamp, or a conferencing tool such as Zoom), then they will need to ensure that the candidate has been provided with the correct login credentials. We would also recommend that the employer ensures that somebody is available virtually to welcome them as they log in for the first time.
If you are providing the office equipment (such as a laptop or mobile phone), then you need to be confident that the candidate has received everything that they need in advance. You may also wish to check that the candidate has full support as they set up their new system. Don’t forget to ensure that the candidate has access to any internal documents that they may need.
Introducing new staff to the team
For new recruits, getting to know their new colleagues is often one of the most exciting parts of a new job. Facilitating online introductions is just as important as it is in a physical office.
You may wish to set up an online video conferencing call to make introductions or find new ways to facilitate team bonding. It’s important that remote workers feel comfortable knowing who they can talk to if they have questions about a work-related task. They may also need to feel confident that they understand your company ethos – regardless of whether you plan to return to office-based working or not. Employers may wish to remind existing staff to take the time to actively contact a new remote worker to personally welcome them to the team.
To help with the adjustment to remote working, many businesses have implemented weekly online quizzes or other fun tasks to encourage team bonding. It is important to communicate these activities to your new remote workers to ensure that they feel part of the team, and to help them to get to know their new co-workers.
Clearly defining expectations
As part of any onboarding process, HR teams will clearly define expectations, and this is even more important for virtual staff. When working remotely performance management can set new challenges. Therefore, it may be prudent to set expectations and ensure that new recruits know what to expect throughout every stage of their probation period.
When it comes to remote working, employers may struggle to see first-hand how a candidate is performing. If that person is having issues, they may also feel uncomfortable or unaware of how to approach their boss to explain any problems. By taking the time to clearly define any team objectives or set performance-related goals for the candidate, an employer can factor in dedicated timeframes for personal reviews and virtual one-to-ones. They can also ensure that the new employee understands the systems and processes used by the company to ease the transition.
The key to virtual onboarding programmes is organisation and procedures. This is because it may be much harder to track that everything has been done correctly and per company policy. Having a written check-list of things to do as part of your virtual onboarding process can aid the process and ensure that both company and candidate are satisfied.
Make the most of your branded collateral
It may sound simple but organising a gift package of branded material and an accompanying handwritten welcome note to be sent to a new remote worker can go a long way to helping them feel part of a team.
For those who are used to working in office environments, they’ll be used to being given items such as branded notepads, pens, coasters, or even branded t-shirts! If a company is continuing to recruit whilst working remotely, they could try to replicate the experience so that candidates are given the same levels of care and attention that they would receive in an office environment.