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How to Successfully Onboard a Remote Employee

A woman sitting at her computer. She is smiling.


If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve either just hired a remote employee, or you’re thinking about hiring a remote employee. Just as you’d have to do with an in-office employee, you’ll need to show your new virtual employees the ropes so they can be successful. Through careful consideration and organization, you can successfully onboard a remote employee without the headaches. How do you effectively bring someone onto your team that you’ve never met in person? We’ll tell you how:

Preparing for Your Remote Employee

Finding the Best Way to Communicate

Before you start the onboarding process, you’ll want to find an online platform where you can communicate easily with your employee(s). If you don’t have an effective form of communication, your employees will have an unclear sense of responsibility which leads to decreased productivity and opportunity. Therefore, it’s incredibly important that you invest some time into finding a communication workflow that works for your team.

Here are some things you may want to consider as you choose your communication platforms:

  1. Are you going to choose to communicate with your employee through email? 
  2. Are you going to use an instant messaging platform, such as Slack, for day-to-day questions?
  3. Will the employee have an online telephone account to call colleagues and customers?

Outline exactly how you’ll want to communicate with your new hire so you have control of each onboarding step. Create an official document for your team with a guide as to when and how things should be handled. For example, you may want to specify that if someone has an urgent customer issue, the employee should contact the support team directly through instant messenger with an “Important” flag on the message. This ensures that the team is notified right away and that they know the matter is urgent. Mapping out scenarios like that will not only help your current team understand how to communicate, but it will also help your new hire understand how things are handled. 

Setting Up the Employee Beforehand

After you’ve established where and how you’ll communicate, you will want to make sure that you provide that employee access to every program they’ll need. Add the employee to your email directory, phone system, messaging program, Google Docs, and whatever other programs you use. Make sure that the employee is set up ahead of their start date. Sometimes technology fails us, and if you have a busy IT department, you know that things don’t always get handled right away. If you prepare the employee’s items beforehand and get the bugs handled early, you’ll avoid having to wait for things to get fixed when the employee should be focused on acclimating to their new job.

Their First Day

On their first day, introduce the employee to their coworkers and outline the expectations of their position. This will ensure that the employee not only knows what to do, but it will help them understand what job duties their colleagues fulfill so they can speak to the right departments when necessary. Additionally, you should try your best to make your new hire feel welcomed on their first day. This will set the tone for their experience at your company and you want them to feel that they made the right choice by joining your organization.

A successful acclimation process is very important for employee success. in fact, a study by TinyPulse says that employees are 23% more likely to stay if their manager clearly explains their roles and responsibilities and has a welcoming experience.

Meeting the Team

When you’re hiring a virtual employee make sure to introduce them to their colleagues. If you happen to have a moderately-sized company, you should narrow introductions down to the people they are going to work with directly. Introducing the employee to different members of the company will help them understand everyone’s roles. Generally this will further assist them as they communicate with others in the future. 

Although it may be tempting to introduce new employees to the team over the phone, it’s not the best option. You may want to consider hosting a video conference when introducing them so the new employee can see everyone’s faces and so your veteran employees can see their new teammate.

Learn About the Company

During the onboarding process give your new hire an overview of the company. Tell them about your story, mission, values, and goals. Let your employee know about big events or conferences your company may host. Those big dates and deadlines may be important to know as they may correlate with important projects.

Not only do you want to tell them about your company and introduce this person to team members, but you also need to educate them regarding how each department works. Give them an overview of the workflows and processes people follow and where they fit in. You may even wish to create an FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) worksheet for new employees so they’ll have a quick guide to addressing all sorts of common circumstances.

Assign a Team Guide (A.K.A. A Buddy)

Your new employee doesn’t want to feel alone, lost, or confused. Assign someone from your organization to help this person get acclimated to their new work environment. This person should know the ins and outs of the company so they can help answer questions your new hire may have. Having an employee who already knows everything about the new remote employee’s department is vital to their success. Choose someone who will represent the company well and will try their best to assist the employee when needed.

The team guide will help answer any of the employee’s questions and should be able to help them work through their tasks within their first few weeks on the job.

Set Goals and Expectations

Although you may have had a rock-solid job description on the application, you’ll still need to tell the employee what their duties are. Review what their daily tasks will be along with any goals and objectives their job title holds. That will give them a better understanding as to what they’re working towards. 

Along with that, you’ll have to train your new hire and give them proper materials to work on throughout the next few weeks. Consider creating a multiple-week training course with assignments to help the employee get familiar with their role. In this training course, give them tasks that are related to their work and have an appropriate supervisor or manager review their progress. Managers should check in with their new employee a few times a week during their first month to make sure the employee is staying on task and completing the work correctly. 

Remote workers should not wait until their manager is online to learn what their next tasks are. Make sure hiring managers:

  • Develop and share a task calendar after new hires’ training and onboarding sessions
  • Define short-term and long-term goals
  • Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss upcoming projects, progress and resolve potential issues

The First Few Weeks

After the employee has settled in, you’ll want to check in on a regular basis. As stated above, assign a manager to review the employees’ progress to ensure that they’re catching on, completing the work, and doing it correctly. 

In addition to their work, you also must consider keeping an eye on the employee’s attitude towards their position. Is the employee happy with their job? Are they engaged in the work they’re doing? It’s important to check in with your employees to make sure that they like the work they’re doing. Unfortunately disengaged employees are more likely to leave their jobs. If you want to ensure that your new employee won’t leave, check in and make sure they’re alright. 

Monthly Check Ins

By this point, your new employee is settled into their new position. Check in with the employee on a regular basis throughout the first year. You may even choose to capture performance reviews. If you don’t document their progress it will be difficult to look back at what they’ve done. Meaning you won’t have an accurate assessment of their accomplishments or areas where they still need improvement. Use the first few months as a chance to monitor the employee to ensure that they’re working correctly. Some business owners choose to place all new employees under probation periods as they adjust to their new positions. Probation periods are an excellent way for a business to evaluate whether or not their new hire is a good fit for the position.

You Can Onboard With Ease!

Overall, onboarding a remote employee can be a seamless process. Ensure that you prepare for the new employee beforehand by adding them to the appropriate platforms and preparing training documents. Try to set up everything in advance so you don’t find yourself playing catch-up to onboard your employee, which can set the wrong tone for your new hire’s experience at the company. With the right tools in order and helpful team members around you, your remote employee will conquer the job.

Do you need to track employee attendance, time off, expenses, and HR docs (performance reviews, letters, etc.)? Timesheets.com has you covered. Try it free today! No contracts, no base fees, and no credit card information needed to try it.

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