Companies spend so much thought, effort, and resources into who they hire that they don’t often look into the how of it. How does your company onboard talent and integrate them into the workflow and culture? Do they go through all phases of remote onboarding?
Do you get your team together and bond with them over coffee or snacks? Or do you send them on their merry way to figure out their fitment in your team and company?
Even companies that don’t have laid out onboarding plan can hope to manage to welcome a new employee well enough on-site. How do you onboard an employee who won’t work from the same place as you though?
The remote onboarding process, phases, and objectives can seem very similar to the traditional onboarding process. However, that is not the case. Remote poses some challenges at every stage of your employees’ journey with you.
- Getting started: Without an office environment and personal introductions, it would be tougher to make a remote employee comfortable in the new role.
- Delivering work: The communication might be tougher, as there is no option of face-to-face meetings. Connectivity and technological challenges might slow down the process.
- Learning and growing: Learning from your surroundings and coworkers as well as continuous learning and upskilling.
- Employee satisfaction: With fully remote work, it is a challenge to engage the new hire all the time. Two-way communication with constant feedback from the new hire will be required.
With these considerations in mind, let’s see how the phases of the remote onboarding program work.
Phases of the remote onboarding program
It is generally accepted that longer the onboarding program, the higher the chances of success.
A longer onboarding program lets you design and structure a process that allows the new hire to integrate into your company’s workflow and culture. A strong onboarding program can improve your new hire retention by 82% and improve the new hire’s productivity by 70%, according to Glassdoor.
- 37% of organizations do not have a formal onboarding program
- 12% of employees believe that their organization has a good onboarding program.
- On average, companies lose 17% of their new hires during the first three months.
Onboarding, is without a doubt, one of the most neglected tasks in any company. Only, it can be easily remedied with a little thought and planning. Here is how.
Create an onboarding checklist
This is the easiest but the most useful step to make your onboarding successful. A quick onboarding checklist goes a long way to streamline your program.
Note down the different goals and outcomes of your onboarding program. While the goals should integrate the new hire into your company, they can aim to overcome the general challenges of working remotely or challenges specific to your company.
For each goal, add the tasks that ensure achieving the said goal. Introductions to the team and management, communication protocols, setting work expectations, and success metrics are some of the essential tasks that an onboarding program should encompass. Deciding if these tasks are one-timers or recurrent can make your planning smooth.
Spread your remote onboarding into phases
Decide the time frame for your onboarding program, keep in mind that a longer program has higher chances of success. Once you have your task list ready, spread them across the time frame depending on their priority and frequency.
Most of the tasks have obvious timings. For example, setting proper communication channels, accounts, etc., cannot be delayed beyond the first day.
By the end of this bit, you have a clear and time-bound onboarding program. Schedule these tasks according to the different phases of your remote onboarding program.
The essential phases of remote onboarding
Phase 0: Before the first day
The first phase of remote onboarding can start immediately after the candidate accepts the offer letter. Make sure you open a communication channel with the new hire so that you can finish some important much before the first day of work.
Make sure your new hire read and understand your policies and legal documents. If you need them to sign a non-disclosure agreement, it would be the best time to do it. Also, get the relevant information like photos, background verification details, bank account details for salary processing.
Set up an orientation calendar:
It would be a good idea to plan for a new hire orientation and share the plan with your new hire. It will help to engage the new hire even before he/she joins the organization.
Make sure your new employee has HR accounts, Payroll account, any other accounts that help them start working as soon as they join
Setting up a work environment:
Communicate to your remote employee, what are the basic requirements – network, equipment, infrastructure, software – that they might need to arrange so that they can mark an efficient start.
Phase 1: The first week of work
For a remote employee, the first day may not be as crucial as the onsite employee. However, the early few days are essential. A new hire should meet all the team members, managers, and immediate leadership.
After a formal round of introductions, you need to get to the next item in the orientation calendar – process and policies. Plan for remote sessions on goal setting, the review process, company policies, HR practices, leaves, compensation, and bonus procedures.
The next part of the remote onboarding process is an infrastructure setting. Make sure the remote employee has access to all tools – important shared folders, wiki pages, mailing systems, coding infrastructure, codebases, and peer review system. Assign an onboarding buddy to your remote new hire, so that the buddy will be the first point of contact for the new employee
As a part of the remote onboarding process, you need to plan for regular meetings with your new hire. In an office atmosphere, there might be many casual conversations with the new employee. In a remote scenario, one-on-ones need to be planned and executed with absolute disciple and priority. But this is the only way you can make sure your new employee is fully engaged and doesn’t feel left out.
Phase 2: The first month of work
In the first month, the remote employee should be able to start contributing to the team. The main focus of the first month is to engage the employee and help him/her understand your work infrastructure and processes. The first month is crucial in remote onboarding. During this period, the employee develops a rapport with the remote team and become productive.
Seek feedback from the employee
Once a remote employee completes the first month, it is time to start seeking inputs from the employee. You can ask to fill up a questionnaire or set up one-one. Actively seeking feedback from the new hire is crucial for the success of the remote onboarding program. The team members of the new hire can also provide their input during the first month.
The process of setting goals should start once the remote employee is comfortable in the organization. It doesn’t make sense to set goals in the first one or two weeks as the new hire is yet to understand the job expectations. After a month, it is safe to assume that the remote employee is well aware of the roles and responsibilities. So this is the ideal time for goal setting.
In the first month, it is crucial to make sure that the training happens as per the training calendar. Due to the remote location of the new hire, most of the training would be online. The chance of missing the training plan is high. You need to ascertain that all the training and induction sessions as per the plan are done by the end of the first month.
Phase 3: The first three months of work
The remote employee should be well integrated into the team in the first three months. The employee should understand the responsibilities of the new role and should start delivering according to the goals.
At the end of the first three months, there should be a meeting to review the progress of the new hire. In these meetings, you should encourage the remote employee to discuss any issues that he/she faces. The review meeting is a milestone for the remote onboarding phase.
Phase 4: Three months to one year
Your remote employee not only should fulfill the deliverables but should start taking initiatives three months into the job. At the end of the first year, they should be well connected with the mission and vision of the organization. They should also be able to complete all the goals set during the initial months successfully.