Unless new employees go through an onboarding program, they may have a difficult time adapting to their duties and co-workers. Office employees get oriented in-person by employers who introduce them to their colleagues, and answer their questions. It is not the case with remote workers as they are not privy to orientation.

As a remote worker, adapting to a new working environment can be challenging. Physical distance can make communication hard, but technological advancements have made it possible for people to speak to each other across borders, by video conferencing or even chats. As a result, more and more companies are hiring virtual staff. It helps that many employees are choosing to work remotely. As this trend is becoming common practice, many employers are facing the challenge of onboarding employees from different time zones and cultures. Getting them to contribute to issues as a team is also an arduous task. To prevent this, employers should come up with an appropriate onboarding procedure to ensure the employees feel more comfortable, and are a fundamental part of the team.

Onboarding new employees involves introducing them to colleagues, business procedures, and the work environment. Studies indicate that remote workers are far more productive than cubicle employees. This has immense benefits to the employer. Also, remote workers enjoy a work-life balance, unlimited options for workspace, and flexible working hours.  However, there is a downside to remote working that we should be aware of. For instance, personal connections, team building, and brainstorming sessions are conspicuously missing. Human resource teams need to consider these challenges as they orient fresh remote workers. The following 5 onboarding tips are certain to help employees make the best out of remote workers:

1. Describe your Expectations

Remote workers experience isolation in their line of work. Human resource managers should ensure they describe the expectations of the company, ultimate output, and deadlines to the team from the beginning. Define the number of hours they are required to work, and how frequently they should get in touch with their peers and supervisors. Providing employees with the essential details from day one ensures they can fit into the company's culture and operations effortlessly.

2. Make Room for Regular Check-ins

Job training is the backbone of onboarding. Technological advancements have provided numerous digital tools for onboarding remote workers, but it’s important to factor the necessity for frequent and open communication. Regardless of whether the training takes place online or in an office, ensure that main onboard staff are well-prepared to answer any questions a new remote worker may have. Since remote employees cannot physically help with brainstorming on issues, it is important to counter this with frequent check-in meetings. When it comes to orienting new remote employees, have a team of determined onboarding professionals. They are better placed to provide the new team with the necessary knowledge and guidance, and can connect with them personally.

3. Develop connections

Developing connections for remote workers can be a challenge, but it’s very important to lay down strategies that ensure they feel like a part of the team. Managers should invite the new employees to the office during the hiring process whenever possible. This way, they can get introduced to the team. Come up with structured projects to ensure the new remote employees interact with onboard team members. It encourages healthy, working relationships whether or not they work from the same physical location.

Managers should have frequent phone and video conferences to allow remote workers to take part in team project discussions. In case the whole team of employees is remote, group calls would be appropriate to ensure that employees discuss their interests and the things happening in their lives.

4. Create Team-Building Opportunities

Team-building opportunities go a long way in bringing the team together and enhancing interactions. Since remote workers do not get to meet very often, managers can schedule weekly meetings where the entire team can meet and work together. This is also a perfect opportunity to introduce in-office employees to the remote workers.  Whenever possible, ensure the remote workers are present in outdoor staff gatherings. This "togetherness" enhances the relationship between in-office employees and remote workers.

Company managers who want to connect remote employees and in-office staff can organize annual get-together events. These events help enhance good, working relationships within an organization and greatly boost productivity. A certain leading company with a myriad of remote workers started hosting an event aimed at bringing their staff together from all corners of the world. Through such events, companies promote a culture of communication, fun, and transparency. These factors are paramount in maintaining a healthy remote and in-office employee relationships.

5. Give Remote Workers an opportunity to further their education

Education programs are particularly important for remote workers. They are a clear demonstration that the employer values their success in the company. Not only do they shape their futures, but they also help them become more productive - which is obviously beneficial to the company. Managers can organize professional enhancement courses, or certifications and conferences for remote employees. Growth can be encouraged through the implementation of tuition reimbursement, training programs and the creation of leadership roles which can be filled by existing employees.

Small-scale options are often enough to achieve this, such as weekly webinars or giving employees the opportunity to attend annual conferences and creating development opportunities in the onboarding procedure. These gestures go a long way in making the remote employees feel like a fundamental part of the team.

Make use of available digital options to account for both in-office and remote employees. Managers can utilize e-Learning programs to ensure remote workers are at par with company procedures and policies, which include: general business ethics, security awareness, and any work-related form of harassment. Regardless of the platform a company chooses, managers should ensure that it is:

·         Applicable, and able to use historical illustrations and real-life scenarios

·         Engaging, so it can create interactive content to encourage active participation among the employees

·         Frequent in updating procedures and policies to account for a shift in legislative needs

·         Personalized to reflect the exclusive requirements, culture, and tone of the company

After these tips get implemented, it is important to assess the onboarding process and find ways to make necessary improvements. While getting feedback from new remote workers can help in this evaluation, managers can rely on their instincts to decipher the performance of the onboarding process. Give the employees time to adjust to their new roles before asking for their views on the orientation process. Listen to their observations, and use them to enhance the onboarding program to make it better. This plays a big role in making new remote employees effective and valuable to the company.

Having a solid onboarding program ensures remote employees can adapt with minimal struggle. This is especially beneficial for companies with top-skilled employees in far away locations. Organize meet-ups for new remote workers and introduce them to the in-office team. Make sure they understand the expectations of the company and whenever possible, appoint a mentor who can assist them as the need arises. Create relationships to ensure remote workers get involved, and feel like they are part of the organization. Remember to evaluate the onboarding program to improve its performance. It is important to establish a powerful onboarding program for the benefit of both the company and the new remote employees.

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Dikirim 6 September, 2017

NickGolding
NickGolding Kakitangan

Entrepreneur & Creator

Nick is the Entrepreneur Correspondent for Freelancer.com. He is based in Sydney, NYC, & London. His life consists of frequent flyer points.

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