Just a year and a half ago, the digital nomad was enviable, revered, and considered a dream job. Yet 2020, in many aspects a unique period of our lives, transformed millions of people across the globe into digital workers - less nomad, though.
MBO Partners 2020 State of Independence in America research notes that in 2020, 93% of independent workers worked remotely for some time, whereas around 51% did so the entire time.
Now that life is slowly returning to normal, businesses small and large alike have their employees working back in the office. Yet, numerous global brands, such as Amazon, HubSpot, Facebook, and Dropbox, switched to remote work for the long term.
During the pandemic, many workers experienced the concept of remote work for the first time. While some preferred this approach for the comfort aspect alone, others saw it as a safer, more cost-effective, or increasingly productive alternative to traditional office work.
Whatever may be behind the workers' fondness towards working from home, the option of remote work will undeniably be one of the crucial company benefits that will determine your popularity among prospective employees.
If you're eager to set out into the world of remote work, we've asked some of the top online marketing firms to outline their six valuable tips for successful remote onboarding.
Tips for Effective Remote Onboarding
Invest in Technology
Leveraging tools and platforms that do the heavy lifting for you has probably been one of the most crucial components of the COVID era. These platforms have shaped communication and collaboration throughout the pandemic.
Small businesses and international enterprises alike relied on online tools to assist throughout their work processes, from managing employees and tasks to keeping up with project schedules and client feedback.
Simplify your remote onboarding process by selecting powerful platforms for communicating, training, and managing employees digitally. Employing the right technologies can make or break the collaboration between your new hires and your company. By making the process a breeze for both parties, you create a great first impression as an employer and enable your new team members to adapt to their new working structure seamlessly.
So, what tools do you need?
Share CVs and important company documents and files effortlessly with tools such as Google Drive and Dropbox. Google Meet, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams will help you carry out in-depth and valuable interviews, whereas project management software, such as Asana, Trello, or Monday will ease task management, project tracking, and collaboration.
Ease the transition for your new employees, foster company culture, and retain your new teammates with the right tools.
Assign a Team Leader
According to Harvard Business Review, new employees benefit from "an onboarding buddy." Their study of Microsoft's onboarding practices found that 56% of employees who had a mentor assigned to them showed faster acclimation to company culture, made fewer mistakes, and are overall increasingly productive.
Buddying up new employees with your old ones digitally will nurture a sense of belonging in your new workers, and at the same time, motivate your existing teammates as they adapt to the leadership situation.
Prepare Their Workspace
Sure, your new workers' office space is their home, coffee shop, or park, but there are still some valuable details you can take care of. For example, if your company provides work equipment, make sure to order and deliver it as early as possible.
Be precise on the apps your company uses, share the necessary credentials for projects, and assist them in getting a grasp of the tools. Create their official email or other business accounts and instruct them on proper use.
Last but not least, add them to required communication channels and project management platforms so that they never miss important information.
Keep the Communication Going
Perhaps one of the most striking differences between remote and traditional work is communication. When working remotely, constant and effective communication becomes imperative to maintaining good relationships and getting the job done.
Moreover, the lack of non-verbal or visual cues adds to the importance of frequent communication. When you can't pick up whether your new employee is struggling with a task or has issues understanding the job assigned, misunderstandings can arise.
Still, find the balance in how often you get in touch with your new coworkers. Over-communication can seem as if you distrust them or are, as a company, too controlling and oppressive.
Pave Them the Way
By developing a personalized onboarding plan for each new hire, you will create a personal touch that's otherwise difficult to achieve when working remotely.
Prepare your new teammates for their regular working day. Tell them what meetings they will have, who they will be meeting with, what tasks they should complete, whom they report to, and most importantly – to whom to direct their questions.
Initially, be by their side to aid their adjustment process and reduce the stress. Explain to them how your company's internal communication works, what communication styles you use, and what tone of voice to use among other colleagues.
Take the initiative in presenting your new employee to others in the company and make an effort to connect the new teammate to others through assignments and projects.
However, don't forget to lay out their responsibilities within the company. Make sure your new teammates are aware of your expectations and their duties. Keep the tone light and friendly, yet don't forget your role as a leader of their company adjustment process.
If new employees regard company culture as unprofessional and breezy, they may either start cutting corners or leave - and you certainly don't want either of these to happen. Transparency is indispensable, especially when working remotely.
Create Human Moments
It is very easy to forget just how important interpersonal communication is. Lack of direct human connection can negatively affect relationships between your employees, but at the same time, their relationship with you as a company.
However, alienation is manageable, even through small things. Celebrate birthdays and work anniversaries, and organize regular virtual team bonding calls to remind your employees they are not alone in front of their computers.
How Will You Do It?
A survey by Ultimate Software found out that 1 in 3 employees knew whether they would stay at a company long-term after only a week on the job. The first week of employment is critical - that's why a well-organized onboarding process is crucial to retaining employees.
Remote onboarding is all about communication, clarity, and leadership. Be attentive to your new employees' needs and provide an answer to their questions, yet make them aware of your expectations and their duties. Maintain regular contact, request progress reports and project updates - especially in the initial period.
While remote onboarding, and work in general, are quite different from the traditional processes, both boil down to employing helpful tools, nurturing honest communication, and developing a well-organized plan.
About the Author: Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for DigitalStrategyOne.