Hiring a Remote Employee? Here's How to Onboard Them
Onboarding a new employee is hard. As the individual responsible for new employees, you have to coordinate across multiple people, teams, and schedules. Your job is to make the process appear effortless and seamless, even though it is often complete chaos behind the scenes. This role is hard enough when your new employees are in the office, but when they're remote, that's an entirely new ballgame.
In the last five years, there has been a 44% increase in remote work, and the trend is accelerating at an even faster pace today. We're experiencing a shift not only in the way we work but where we work. Technology has enabled employees and entire organizations to collaborate from disparate locations while maintaining productivity and creating great businesses.
Whether you're onboarding a new employee in a remote office, a new location, or work-from-home, it's essential to make the employee feel welcome, even if it's a little harder to do virtually. New employees stated that a good onboarding experience could increase their overall happiness by 82%.
The journey starts when your new employee signs their offer. Especially in a virtual work environment, you need to make sure you put everything in motion as soon as possible. It will take a bit of extra work on your end, but it will go very far with your new employees in making them feel welcome to the team and company. To get things kicked off, we suggest a message like this:
Hi [PERSON] --
We're so excited for you to be joining [COMPANY] on [DATE]! I told the team that you'll be joining us, and they can't wait until you get started. The HR team and I will be reaching out with more information around the next steps soon.
In the meantime, please let me know your preferred shipping address, your t-shirt size, and if you prefer a Windows or Mac laptop.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out!
Bonus: Give the employee's email address to your team and ask them to reach out, expressing their excitement.
Just like your in-office employees, you need to make sure your remote employees feel welcome. A great way to do this is to send them some SWAG, like a company t-shirt or a coffee mug and a hand-written note from you and the team welcoming them. Aim to get the gifts and welcome package to the new employee at least a few days before they start. You want employees to feel excited going into their first day and know that the team is excited for them to join.
Coordinate with your HR department to make sure they send out all the relevant material and tasks to the new employee as soon as possible. If your HR team doesn't already have a tool to help coordinate and handle this part, they can look into a tool like Sapling or Sora. It would be best if you worked to do everything digitally. New employees aren't going to enjoy manually filling out paperwork and sending it back. It's even more important for remote employees since they won't be in an office setting to manage some of this work during their first week.
Some states, like California, require that certain new employee documents be physically verified to complete their I-9. There are on-demand services like Notarize that can help you coordinate.
No employee can do their job without the right tools. Make sure to send your new employee their laptop, monitor, accessories, etc. so that it arrives at least a day before their start date. Getting them their gear in advance gives them time to set-up their desk and feel comfortable when their onboarding starts. The last thing you want your remote employees to do is be fumbling around to get their computer set up so that they can hop on a video call to start their job. More time for them means less stress for everyone.
Get their shipping information as soon as they sign the offer (see above email example). If your company has a set equipment policy, make sure to reach out to your IT team as soon as your new employee signs the offer to coordinate all of the equipment and get it sent out ASAP. It's better for everything to arrive three days early than halfway through their first day (or later). If your company doesn't have a set equipment policy or offers options (e.g., Mac or Windows), reach out as soon as possible and get the information.
Make sure you help coordinate meetings for your new employee. They won't know who they should be talking to and may feel uncomfortable reaching out directly. It is on you as their hiring manager to make sure they have the right meetings in place with an agenda, so both parties know what to discuss. Typically, you'll want to set-up a meeting with you, with their teammates, their direct reports (if they have any), and other individuals that they'll be working with closely.
After the first week of meetings, check-in with them during your 1:1 to see how they went, what they learned, and what open questions they have. It's a good idea to set time aside to talk about these items as you won't have 'coffee chats' with your remote employees.
Once your new employee gets through the typical onboarding process (paperwork, benefits, company policy, etc.) with your HR team, they need to know what to do on day one. You want your employees to feel empowered to contribute to your team and organization as fast as possible, which means you need to grant them access or a means to access all of the information relevant to their position. Company policy, culture, and Hr documents are valuable, but new employees need a way to get related information to their role. This might take the form of the most common chat channels they should join, documents related to the projects they'll be working on, dashboards your team looks at daily, and so on.
Typically, you want to compile all of this information into a consolidated view. Hiring managers usually do this by creating a spreadsheet with multiple columns: document Name, Type, Description, Comments, and Link. You want to make sure there is a centralized place for your new employees to go to for all the documentation and information they need to do their job. In the beginning, they may not even know what they should be searching for, so they need a baseline. Over time, they'll better understand the tools your company has and how to navigate them.
We've created a template onboarding spreadsheet for you to use. You can access that here.
Sure, spreadsheets are great, but managers typically silo them, often miss relevant information, and have to update them regularly. That's where Xoba comes in. Xoba is the knowledge engine for the workplace and enables you to more effectively onboard your new employees.
Xoba integrates all of your existing work applications like Gmail, Slack, Google Drive, Asana, etc. and can help surface relevant documentation, information, and files based on the new employee's team, role, and responsibilities. No longer do you need to create a spreadsheet to keep track of links, let Xoba do that for you and make sure it's always up to date. Xoba provides a search bar that enables new employees to search and discover relevant information, regardless of which applications it's on. Ultimately helping your employees get their information they need faster and contributing in a fraction of the time.