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6 tips for onboarding a remote worker

Given the current circumstances you may be wondering how you can possibly onboard that new starter you’re due to have join your business in the coming weeks and months. Although widespread home working at this level isn’t usual, there are plenty of reasons why a new starter may not be able to join your physical office or team right away.

It is essential that remote employees feel part of the business and their team, and that their contributions matter. Enabled technology, regular communications and ensuring they have everything they need to work are even more important than usual and require a little extra planning. We’re here to help guide you through the best practice to ensure that your virtual onboarding can be just as successful as usual.

1. Technology

It’s obvious, but even onboarding IT in an office doesn’t always run smoothly. Firstly, ensure your employee has access to a laptop, keyboard and mouse. If they require you to provide them, the equipment will need to be acquired and enough time allowed for IT to set up their account and send it to them prior to their start date. If they have a computer, then arrange for your IT department to remotely create their account. 

Ensure that IT is fully briefed on the infrastructure, access and logins that your team member will need. Does your employee need a mobile device or two screens? What are all the logins and passwords of your various systems? Arrange for an IT contact to call them, ideally prior to or on their start date, to ensure their set up is a smooth one. 

Lastly, check with your HR department as to whether your organisation needs to carry out a health inspection of the home worker’s environment. There is advice from the Health & Safety Executive here.

2. Pre-boarding - make them feel welcome

From the moment your candidate accepts your offer to their first day – you want to maintain that energy and enthusiasm through this period, which can be up to three months. Pre-boarding is an important element no matter where your employees end up working. Send them their welcome pack or email and any information you usually share about your organisation and its culture. Supply them with business cards if you usually would.

If you don’t already, now is the perfect time to send a branded welcome or ‘swag’ bag. This could be anything from office stationary, notebooks, mugs or water bottles to food. Twitter employees receive a branded workstation and bottle of wine on their first day!

3. Make them feel part of their team

Introduce them to their team members and key stakeholders and wherever possible make this face-to-face. If these calls are one-to-one then use What’s App or Face Time. Make these initial conversations casual and light, just as employees would usually have over a coffee. 

Assigning a buddy is a good idea, and although that person may usually show them around the office or the best lunch spots, they could still be that confidant that the new starter needs to help them feel at ease and part of a team. 

Remember to arrange an introduction with HR – which can cover things like benefits, holidays and support. 

When you have team meetings it is also a good idea to maintain face-to-face contact, especially when everyone is home working. Your IT’s department may enable video conferencing such as Skype for Business or Microsoft Teams. Or you can easily set up your own using tools such as Google Hangouts and Zoom. Ensure that your new starters’ contact details are available and that they’re invited to all relevant virtual meetings. 

4. Set out clear structure, objectives and KPI’s

Structure and transparency regarding the understanding of expectations are even more important when working independently. Start with the basics – what are the working hours and break periods, and what about dress code? When video calling with stakeholders you don’t want your new employee still in their pyjamas!

Create clear SMART objectives and KPI’s, and then ensure you have the framework to measure them. This could be technology and tools that your team uses or regular meetings or reports. Set timescales for when you will review the employee’s performance, whether it be a week, a month or three months. This will also provide the employee an opportunity to feed back to you regarding how their onboarding is going, and give you both opportunities to make amends where required. 

What training will they require? It may be a team member sharing their screen in a video conference, or access to an online training portal. In the absence of in-person up-skilling, consider online sources of information, such as webinars, industry blogs and social feeds.

5. Check-in regularly 

A new starter needs more regular contact in the first phases of the role, even at the highest levels, and with no physical contact this should be stepped up to daily to begin with. 

Ensure regular calls are arranged between their manager, team and key stakeholders to give them an opportunity to feel connected as well as monitor their progress against their objectives and KPI’s. Again, make these calls face-to-face whether possible. Where team meetings are booked, maintain these virtually and ensure the new starter is included in invite lists. 

6. Maintain personal contact 

And finally, never underestimate how much humans need human contact! Maintain regular communications channels – whether it be emails, phone calls or video conferencing, between your new starter and your team whenever remote working is required.

Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity.” Sean Stephenson

If you are onboarding a new starter soon and want any advice, please contact us here.

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