We’ve already seen how hiring a remote candidate can pose unique issues owing to the location of your new hire. You need to search for dedicated and motivated workers (preferably with prior experience working remotely) who seem like a good fit for your culture.
Whilst this is certainly true, all of these hiring checks will be for nought if you don’t apply the same care and special remote consideration to your employee onboarding process.
Remote employees are a wonderful mixed bag (admittedly I’m a little biased, being one myself); the more care you put into nurturing them and thoroughly onboarding them, the more tight-knit they will be with your company and the more motivated they will remain for the names in their Slack channel.
Since not everyone can be graced with a friend in the company who helps to keep them motivated, here are a few of the top onboarding tips to help you succeed with your remote hire.
Get chatting, and do it quickly
Considering the fact that you won’t be meeting in person with the remote employee often (if at all), ensuring a solid communication loop is absolutely vital to onboarding your new hire. Not only that, but if you don’t catch them quickly you’re going to find them quickly retreating into their shell and isolating themselves from the rest of your team.
First up, you need to introduce them to everyone and everyone to them. Back at Process Street, we do this by announcing their arrival to the general Slack channel, to which they will usually be greeted with the entire team sending ‘Welcome’ gifs. This not only shows that every name in their directory is indeed a real person, but helps to set a more casual and approachable tone (something which can be incredibly hard to do when your team does not meet in person).
Another good practice to uphold is to encourage your existing employees to chat of their own accord - preferably during their introduction. The aim here is to once again help the hire link their team’s names to the people behind them, as if they need to reach out for help it will be infinitely more intimidating to do so if they have no foundation for the communication already.
Create opportunities for collaboration
By giving the new remote employee a chance to work alongside the current team (or even teams that they aren’t a part of, such as customer support) you can not only affirm the initial relations that have started to build, but also help the hire to have some sort of foundation with the entire company. This will mean that, no matter who they have to talk to, they will be able to have at least a short conversation without feeling too awkward or intimidated.
Collaboration with the rest of the team is also brilliant for showing them the ropes and learning by example. Let’s say that you’re onboarding a new content marketer; at some point or another you’re going to want to have them work with your current head of marketing and the sales team (if only briefly) to make sure that they have the full picture of what they are expected to do, and how it links in with the rest of the company.
Culture, culture, culture
Managing a remote team can be difficult at times, but everyone and their grandmother should know of the importance of a healthy company culture in any team with even a single remote worker.
Culture is both fed by and supports every new hire; properly onboarded it combats the risk of isolation, but if not then that same isolation will prevent any lasting connection from forming with the hire.
Essentially, you need to introduce them quickly and make sure that your entire culture runs on a remote-first ideology. The first way in which you can do this is to include them in any ongoing competitions your team is holding. Bear in mind that you shouldn’t force them to join in, as this will only alienate them further, but a bit of friendly competition and banter is a great way to get them familiar with the personalities they will be working with.
Next up, if you haven’t already, you need to make sure that your culture (or indeed any relevant aspect of your company) is not biased against remote workers. This shouldn’t be a problem in teams which already have a partially remote workforce, but you can do this by centralizing and recording all communication and information.
Make sure that your culture is not biased against remote workers - centralize all communication & information
Whilst that sounded like a load of buzzwords, you pretty much just need to make sure that no information can be lost; no long chain emails, record all meetings / calls, organize and track your projects using a project management tool.
The onboarding process does not have to be an imposing or complicated one, but the unique problems posed to remote workers must always be kept in mind.
Communicate regularly and early, collaborate where possible, integrate them with your culture and listen to what they have to say; do this and the threat of feeling isolated or lacking motivation will soon fade as they quickly settle into their new team.
About Benjamin Brandall
Benjamin Brandall is the head of content marketing at Process Street. He's passionate about remote work, SaaS and productivity.