How to Effectively Onboard a Team of Remote Workers

Today’s guest post is written by Jen McKenzie, a freelance writer based in New York. 
Onboarding is the formal process of introducing your new employees to your company. Everything from your corporate work policies to the culture of the company may be reviewed during this process. It also usually includes on-the-job training. As you can see, all new employees need a formal onboarding program regardless of whether they are on-site or remote workers.
Many companies are taking advantage of the benefits of a virtual workforce, but they struggle to create an effective remote onboarding experience for them. Ultimately, this can be a detriment to employee satisfaction and retention, so it should be improved. With a closer look at how the right combination of tools and communication can be used to ensure accountability and engagement, you can more easily improve your onboarding process.

Why Is It Vital

Before you spend time improving the onboarding experience, you need to understand the importance of this process. Through onboarding, your new hires can learn about new about performance and social expectations and requirements in the company. The company’s work environment and even some of the team members and processes are introduced to them.
An effective onboarding program can define or improve company culture and foster a team environment. It also helps your new hires to more quickly adjust to their new work environment and to feel comfortable and welcome. When the onboard process is not effective, new hires may be less involved and engaged, and performance level may be lower. An effective onboarding program is a necessity for remote workers.

The Process

To initiate the onboarding process, it is necessary to schedule an in-office orientation with new hires. They should be greeted face-to-face by all team members. This establishes rapport and helps them to begin developing relationships with others in the company. It also gives them a time to get questions answered first-hand, and it prevents them from feeling left out in the corporate environment.
Because of physical distance associated with a remote workforce, communication and developing relationships within the team can be more challenging for virtual workers. While some virtual onboarding programs include phone calls and video conferencing, this is not the best way for remote workers to meet team members and to learn about the corporate culture. Remember to customize your onboarding process based on each employee’s unique position and responsibilities. These steps can help you to more effectively plan a great onboarding program for your remote workers.

Connect Face-to-Face

All remote workers should be invited into the office for a face-to-face meeting within their first week of employment. If this is not possible, use video conferencing and screen sharing programs to make the onboarding process as personalized as possible. Through a face-to-face meeting, your remote workers can begin developing relationships with others in the company, and they may feel more welcome and comfortable. This strengthens personal bonds because it enables the use of eye contact and the observation of body language.
Face-to-face meetings also help the new employee to feel as though they are a part of the company. Video conferencing is a great alternative to face-to-face meetings because it offers many of the same benefits of an in-person meeting without the stress and cost associated with traveling. New hires can even receive a virtual tour of the office through video conferencing. Co-workers should be included in the onboarding process to help new hires feel more involved.

Let Them Know What to Expect

The onboarding process is an important opportunity for you to define clear expectations for your workers so that they can begin working effectively immediately. Your new hires should receive directions and expectations for the position before their first day on the job, and they should understand clearly the company’s telecommuting policy. This reduces their anxiety and promotes efficiency. It also defines timing expectations and aligns individual and team goals for an improved work experience.
The onboarding process should include education about the various tools and resources available to workers, and it should orient them to new projects they will be working on. The schedule for team meetings and required communication should be provided at this time. Remember to include a written copy of these expectations so that new hires can refer back to the documentation as needed.

Make Them a Part of The Team

While onboarding is a time to get down to business, it also should be a social experience. The process should showcase that your corporate culture encourages teamwork and collaboration. When employees feel as though they are part of a team and included in the corporate culture, they may be more inclined to work hard from day one. You can encourage this by introducing them to coworkers early on so that they can begin building professional relationships.
Ensure that the team is open and inviting to the new hire. It may be best to have a new hire correspond frequently with tenured employees so that they can be properly integrated into the company through a training program. As part of this process, ensure that new hires understand workflow and corporate values as well as goals and expectations.

Assess and Improve the Procedure

Each time you bring a new hire into the fold, it is important to customize the onboarding process and to improve on it when possible. Analyze how effective it has been in the past, and ask your recent new hires as well as established employees to comment on their own experiences. Through your own observations as well as feedback from others, you can improve your onboarding program for the overall benefit of the company as a whole.
While refining the process for the next new hire, it may be wise to check in with your remote workers and to ensure that they do not have any additional questions and concerns that were not covered in the initial onboarding process. This will ensure that the onboarding experience was as beneficial and positive as possible.
The right individuals can be incorporated into your corporate environment to enrich it and to improve the company in profound ways. Onboarding is a necessary part of the new hire experience, but it can be challenging to create an onboarding process that is beneficial for remote workers. While this can be challenging, remember that employees who enjoy a successful onboarding program may be retained longer and may be more productive and engaged over the years. This can benefit new hires as well as the company.
About the author 
Jen McKenzie is a freelance writer from New York, NY. She is fascinated by all things having to do with words, business, education and cutting-edge. When Jennifer is not busy writing, she enjoys taking long walks and spending time with her two pets Brando & Marlon. You can reach Jennifer@jenmcknzie
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