Onboarding Remote Employees: A Practical Standard Process In 2021 For More Productivity

Onboarding Remote Employees: A Practical Standard Process In 2021 For More Productivity
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Gone are the days when the recruitment responsibility of the HR department ended once an employee was hired for a specific position within an organization. In 2021, a lot depends on the manner in which an employee is onboarded and treated by the management during the initial days of them joining the company. 

Have a look at the following statistics:

  • Effective employee onboarding tends to improve employee retention by 82% (source: Glassdoor

  • 88% of organizations are not able to onboard their employees well (source: Gallup

  • The majority of organizations focus only on one week of onboarding (source: HCI

  • 58% of organizations claim that their onboarding program revolves around processes and paperwork (source: HCI

  • Negative onboarding experience results in the new hires being two times more likely to look for other job opportunities (source: Digitate

These statistics clearly imply how important employee onboarding is for an organization. Over time, the needs of employees have changed and the need for a fulfilling onboarding experience is one of them. In 2021, employees would prefer looking for another job if they don’t feel comfortable during the first few weeks of working in an organization. 

The Advent Of Remote Onboarding

Since the summer of 2020, organizations and professionals across the world witnessed a shift in the way business processes are carried out and the company is managed. As people are confined to their homes for working, organizations have set up virtual workspaces to ensure streamlined business processes. 

With all processes shifting on virtual platforms, employee onboarding has also switched to the collaborative platforms used as virtual workspaces. Here, the organization resorts to virtual communication with the new employees, helping them get well-versed with their new team and learn the ethics, culture, attitude, approach, goals, and objectives of their organization. Essentially, remote onboarding is the same as physical onboarding, the only difference being the fact that the organization connects with its employees through virtual platforms. 

Although the prominence of remote onboarding has increased after being hit by a global pandemic, the practice is as old as the trend of working from home. Since employees have started to prefer working remotely, remote onboarding has become an important practice to retain employees. 

The Difference Between Remote Onboarding And Orientation

Organizations often get confused between onboarding and orientation, resulting in mismanagement and inadequate onboarding practices. It is important to note that while orientation is a one-time event to brief new employees about the organization they have joined, remote onboarding includes a series of events spanning across a few weeks of an employee joining the organization. 

Orientation is a part of the onboarding process and its scope is much limited as compared to employee onboarding. Depending on the complexity and importance of the role for which an employee is hired, their remote onboarding can last from a few weeks to a few months. 

It is always advisable for an organization to never hurry when it comes to remote onboarding and give enough time to the employees to feel comfortable with the new organization. 

Checklist For Onboarding Remote Employees

Onboarding remote employees is certainly not an easy task and requires the organization to consider several factors for welcoming new employees to the organization. 

Here is a checklist an organization should keep in mind before while going ahead with remote onboarding of their employees: 

  • Prepare a list of activities directed towards helping the employees learn about their new team/department and the organizational goals. 

  • Ask the new employees to create their accounts on different platforms, including productivity, HR, security, CRM, and communication tools. This includes providing them with initial credentials and asking them to change the same for security purposes. 

  • Create a personalized letter welcoming the concerned employee to the organization. Add this letter to your enterprise knowledge base for reference purposes. 

  • Schedule preliminary one-on-one meetings of the new employee with the manager and team leader(s) for an ice-breaking session and making them well-versed with the tasks they will be performing. 

  • Provide the employees with the company policies and all the important articles by adding them to the enterprise knowledge base. 

  • Let the manager outline the goals they are willing to achieve and the work expected from the new employee for a period of 30, 60, or 90 days, depending on the role of the employee. Make sure that the team leaders manage the tasks performed by the employee and guide them during their initial days. 

  • Focus on creating a bond with the new employee by having informal and casual conversations on collaborative platforms. This is important to make your remote employee feel at ease and comfortable working with their new team. 

  • Encourage the new employee to set working hours on the collaborative platform used as the virtual office. This allows them and other employees on the platform to schedule meetings and have a look at their commitments during their initial days in the organization. 

Best Practices For Onboarding Remote Employees in 2021

We live in an age of digitization and process automation. A global pandemic has made us realize the boon that technology is to all major industries across the world. This has encouraged companies to switch to digital alternatives for carrying out a range of business processes, including the onboarding of remote employees. 

Here are some of the best practices for getting your remote working employees on board: 

Onboard Employees Using Your Service Desk 

The modern employee service desks are powered by AI to carry out an array of practices for an organization. These AI-powered service desks provide wholesome support to the employees by providing personalized solutions to their problems. These service desks can be effectively used for onboarding employees working remotely. 

The modern employee service desks help you automate a number of processes with the help of AI chatbots. These virtual assistants follow the commands given by the employees/management and provide context-based answers to the questions asked by employees. 

With the help of these service desks, organizations can optimize their knowledge base by using it for the streamlined onboarding of employees. You can set triggers that allow you to send personalized and automated emails to an employee as they log in to the platform for the first time. 

These emails can revolve around a warm welcome message, company policies, login credentials for various platforms, company manuals, schedules, and all relevant information important for the employee. 

Moreover, onboarding employees via service desks allows them to obtain quick and effective help whenever they are in need. This helps you instill faith and trust within your employees, making them believe that you care for them. 

Chart Out An Extensive Onboarding Plan 

As mentioned in the statistics above, many organizations take the onboarding process lightly, especially if their employees are working remotely. It is important to understand that building a rapport with new employees and putting them in a comfort zone is much more difficult when there is no physical interaction with them.

This makes it important for organizations to chart out a robust onboarding plan with dedicated milestones. This plan should include all onboarding activities spanning across these four major stages: 

• Pre-onboarding 

• Orientation 

• Initial assignments/projects 

• Ongoing employee support 

It is advisable for the management to have an actionable strategy to cater to the new employees at each of these stages. Setting clear milestones at regular intervals would help you in measuring the progress made by the new employees during their initial days in the organization. 

Never make the mistake of using the existing on-premise onboarding plans for remote onboarding. It is always advisable to review these plans and customize them to suit the employees working from home. 

Have different timelines in place for every milestone achieved by your employees. This will not only improve the work experience of your new employees but would also help them improve their productivity as they spend more time working in your organization. 

Create An Attractive “Welcome Pack” For Your Employees 

No matter how effective virtual workspaces are, the lack of personal touch and physical interactions would always make an employee feel a little incomplete. In order to help them get rid of this feeling, it is advisable to prepare a personalized “Welcome Pack” for the new employees. This pack can be prepared and delivered digitally to the employees on their first day at work. 

An ideal welcome pack for your remote working employees should contain a personalized letter welcoming the employee, the contact details of the colleagues they would be working with, all relevant information about their team and the senior management, and the expectations the organization has from them. 

To make the pack more attractive, you can add a welcome video for your new employees to make them feel included in the corporate family and start their journey with joy. 

Onboard Remote Employees In Groups 

It is always advisable to get remotely working employees on board in groups. This makes the process easier for the organization as well as the employees. When a single employee is given all the attention by the management and is asked to meet a number of people, it might get a little intimidating for the employee. 

Instead, having multiple employees going through the same onboarding journey would make them a little more comfortable as they would interact with the management and with each other. 

Moreover, onboarding employees in groups allows the organization to save their time and effort in organizing orientations, having introductory sessions and explaining the scope of the new employees. 

Organize Off-site Meet-ups 

Before going ahead with this point, it is important to understand that it is relevant only when the organization already has employees working on-site and conditions are conducive to gather outside. 

You can always organize off-site gatherings with all the employees working remotely. It is important for the management and the employees to engage in physical interactions outside the realm of virtual workspaces. This would allow your employees to gel with their new teams and make them feel comfortable working in the organization. 

Stay In Regular Touch With Your Employees 

When the employees are working on-site, it is fairly easier for the management to keep a track of their work and make sure they are feeling comfortable in their new workplace. However, remote onboarding does not provide you with this luxury. 

It is, therefore, always important for team leaders and managers to stay in touch with the new employees regularly, at least for the initial few months. Apart from checking on the work they do, it is advisable to talk to them about their experience while working with the new team and see if they are having any trouble fitting in. 

Such small gestures have a lasting impact on your employees, making them feel an important part of your organization. 

Organize Training Sessions 

It is important for an organization to make sure that the new employees hone their skills and improve their productivity over time. It is advisable to organize collaborative training sessions as you bring new employees on board. To make the new employees gel with their seniors, you can have the more experienced employees train the new ones as they work remotely. 

This often acts as a good team-building exercise that trains your new employees for leveraging their performances. 

Do Not Restrict The Training To Employees 

When you are onboarding remote employees, it is important to train the managers as well. Managers often tend to use the same traditional management tactics used for employees working on-premise. Make sure that the managers are adequately trained to handle their teams with remotely working employees. Your new employees will only be able to give their best if the managers are doing the same. 

The Final Word 

While the trend of remote working is gaining momentum because of the flexibility it provides, organizations should not overlook the need to onboard employees in a streamlined manner. Always remember that effective onboarding is the first step towards higher employee retention and productivity.

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