Onboarding new remote employees can be tricky for a lot of team leaders. Here are a few good ideas on how to welcome them and make them feel like they’re a part of the team.
With so many companies giving their employees the choice to come back to the office or work from home indefinitely, it wouldn’t be a stretch to assume that lots of employers will continue to hire remote workers as well. There are just too many benefits for both parties with this setup that it’s likely that a lot of businesses will continue to take advantage of it.
Tips on Welcoming New Remote Employees
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Despite the good, it can bring, however, there are challenges that remote workers bring on the operation side of things. It can be particularly tricky to make them a part of the team when they’re not physically present. This is true for all kinds of setups, as those with employees reporting to the office and those who are completely working remotely tend to find the process a bit challenging.
For example, for most workplaces, a new hire will be welcomed with a team meeting, an office tour, and maybe a team dinner after work hours. Friendly interactions with the newbie will be greatly encouraged in order to create a light atmosphere that the new hire can ease into.
Most of such techniques aren’t necessarily possible to do with a remote worker, however. This is why it can be a bit of a challenge, especially for team leaders and managers, to onboard a new remote employee.
While it’s not easy to do, there are certain techniques that can help in making a new remote employee feel like they’re part of the team.
Some examples of these are the following:
Communicate Clearly With New Remote Employees
Since there are no non-verbal cues and body language in play when working with a remote employee, it’s crucial to communicate very well with the new hire. There’s no such thing as over-communicating in such cases as they will need guidance when setting up. And since you’re not physically there to help out, clear instructions will be the next best thing you can give.
Explicitly communicate expectations so both parties do not need to resort to assumptions. Make sure to go into details of what the onboarding process is like and what the new employee can expect and what they need to do at every phase. This will help eliminate room for confusion and errors that may cost everyone time, effort, and resources.
For starters, it’s crucial to provide the following information for a smoother onboarding procedure:
- Details on the arrival of their operational materials like computers, mobile phones, and other devices they’ll need to get started.
- The point person that they can get in touch with if they need assistance during the first few weeks on the job.
- The regular meetings they have to attend, including who the attendees are, what kinds of meetings they are, and when they will be held.
- Background details on the company. If there are materials that can be provided for this, make sure to give them a copy or provide access to it.
- Details on the new employee’s complete job description.
- A copy or access to a copy of the company’s employee manual. Make sure to include the parts regarding work from home protocols that they will need to learn about and maybe even sign.
Create a Welcoming Atmosphere
Creating a welcoming atmosphere for a work-from-home (WFH) employee is a pressing matter that team leaders need to learn more about. It’s definitely not easy to make someone who is not physically present feel welcome without taking extra steps. Body language and social cues tend to get the job done in person but with distance as a barrier, they really won’t work.
What are the alternatives? Some creativity is encouraged in this area. The most important part is that everyone is able to introduce themselves and make the new hire feel that they’re welcome and that they will be a part of the team.
One way to do this is by sending the new team member a care package. They usually contain company swag and a few notes that will let the team add a more personal touch to the package.
A video chat with the entire team can also be a good way to introduce everyone to the newbie. Some do a virtual team lunch while others do a virtual ‘hang-out’ and catching up session. Email and instant messaging platforms can also be used to do formal or one-on-one introductions as well as check in on the new employee.
Another way to make new hires feel like they’re a part of the team is by helping them get to know and understand the company culture of your organization. This may not seem like much but the familiarity with this detail can be crucial for remote workers as they don’t have the chance to experience it in person. By helping them assimilate to the company culture, they’ll feel more at ease and connected to the team they just joined.
To achieve this, it’s best to explain the company culture to the new team member. Help them get acquainted with the values, goals, trends, and common practices.
Assigning another team member to the newbie can also help in this area. Sometimes it’s easier for some employees to connect with other employees rather than their superior so it might be a good idea to ask for the help of your team members in this part of onboarding. It can also create opportunities for the team to get to know each other better even if the new hire is working remotely.