Of all the concerns managers have about leading a remote team, perhaps one of the most daunting ones is how to effectively onboard a new team member to a fully remote team. In many organizations where remote work is an option, they still choose to initiate onboarding in person. In-person onboarding helps set the new employee off on the right foot and enables them to be effective in their new role quickly. While remote onboarding may not be ideal, with appropriate planning and effort the quality of the onboarding experience needn’t be sacrificed.
Here are a few tips for remote onboarding:
- Plan ahead—Unexpected challenges arise in every new employee orientation, but they can seem a bit more dramatic in a virtual environment. A poorly planned orientation/onboarding experience can create a lasting impression of how the employer operates. Plan ahead to ensure your new employee will have all equipment and resources they will need on day one. Put together a calendar of activities so they know what to expect over the first few weeks. This will also show the new employee that you value their time and are committed to helping them be successful.
- Create a Virtual VIP tour—One feature of in-person onboarding that is essential is putting a face with the names of key contacts. Set a schedule for the new employee to conduct one-on-one video conferences with each key contact across the business. These virtual meet-and-greets will help the new employee establish important relationships for the future.
- Take a team-based approach—While you’ll need to be heavily involved in the onboarding process, you likely can’t take two weeks out of your schedule to focus exclusively on training the new team member. Where possible, take a team-based approach to supporting the onboarding process. Look at the list of training objectives and assign one to each team member. This will help you manage your daily workload while also helping the new employee build a relationship with their colleagues.
- Make a cheat sheet—Take some time to create a cheat-sheet for your new employee. They’ll likely be overwhelmed with the information they learn during onboarding and will struggle to retain information they need later. Providing them a list of resources, how-to’s, and who’s who will not only help them quickly answer their own questions but save them from feeling embarrassed asking for help.
- Meet daily on video—It may seem extreme, but a daily video check-in can help the employee feel connected while you ensure they’re getting all of the information and resources they need. With a daily check-in, you can quickly pivot to dive deeper into areas that are unclear or accelerate training if necessary. Over time, it will be clear that they’ve started making connections across the organization and need to meet less frequently going forward.
- Over-communicate goals and expectations—Finally, as with all remote workers, it is always better to over-communicate than under-communicate. Set clear goals and expectations for everyone, and check-in frequently. Never let a day go by without a touchpoint of some kind.
Onboarding remotely can certainly be a challenge, but it’s a challenge that can be overcome. Diligent planning and consistent communication will ensure your employee has all of the training and resources they need to become an effective team member.