Many employees already enjoy remote work because of the convenience, increased flexibility, ability to balance work and personal obligations, and saving commuting time and money. Loneliness? Sure, it creeps in, but remote work is here to stay — Upwork predicts that 22 percent of the U.S. workforce will be working remotely by 2025.
As more hiring is done for a remote workforce, companies must recognize that effective onboarding leads to better employee retention. As often as possible, companies need to provide a remote equivalent to each onsite amenity. For example, when associates are witnessing a presentation in person, remote workers can be watching comfortably from their home office.
There are multiple factors to consider when building and nurturing personal connections with your new remote employees.
- Get going. When you know the associate is hired, begin the unofficial onboarding process. Share the company’s social channels and email signature template. Offer a branded swag item or welcome kit to further make a remote associate feel like part of the team.
- IT infrastructure. Introduce the remote associate and an information technologist (IT) as soon as possible to ensure the new associate has the setup, access, passwords, platforms and protocols in place for the first day of work, and a lifeline to contact if there are questions or snags.
- History and handbooks. Establish a digital handbook. A website for remote employees can address their unique needs, including pertinent policies. Provide a greeting from the company leader to welcome the new associate and personally convey the company history, corporate culture, mission and vision from the top brass.
- Creating connections. Those working from home need the right amount of connection points with other staff members to avoid feeling isolated. Create established check-in times with teams and supervisors daily, weekly or whatever timeline suits your flow of work.
- Personalized welcome. An onboarding plan could contain aspects of traditional orientations, plus individualized components.
- Check in. New remote associates want to do a good job. It may be harder, however, to tell how associates are really doing when you can’t just drop by their offices. Establish video check-ins and goals so remote associates know what the expectations are, and when and how their performance will be assessed.
- Promote collaboration. Encourage learning between departments and between veteran and new employees.
- Promote professional growth. Offer training opportunities and encourage associates to bring educational findings forward for consideration.
- Newbie group. Offer an orientation extension that enables new associates to casually gather online, get to know each other and create a special supportive community across various departments.
- Provide mentors. Gather a group of willing mentors to help ensure a welcoming probationary period and long-term career development. It is important for new associates to have empathetic guidance from someone who has occupationally walked in the same shoes they have.
Adapting these suggestions to your workplace can generate a sense of welcome and worth for remote employees, both during the onboarding process and beyond. ●
Michele Cuthbert is CEO and creator at Baker Creative