Remote and hybrid workplaces have become more common ever since the pandemic, particularly in professional settings where physical presence isn't needed to carry out tasks. Once employees who had not had much exposure to remote work gained prolong exposure to certain conveniences, such as reduced commute time, and working in an environment conducive to focus, remote and hybrid work started to feel more like a permanent fixture of the workplace, rather than a short-term solution to a pandemic.
Just like their in-person counterparts, remote and hybrid employees have requirements to complete work and be a productive employee within an organization. These requirements are typically laid out in specific policies and procedures within an employee handbook, and provided to employees when they first start with an organization. The employee onboarding phase is a crucial opportunity for the organization to set expectations for new hires, while also emphasizing the company culture and creating a welcoming environment for the employee.
The employee's first few days often set the tone for the rest of their time at the company. In this article, we provide tips and practical guidance to ensure that your remote and hybrid team members have a positive and productive onboarding experience.
Your organization likely has an onboarding plan in place for employees who work in-office (if you don't, start by reading our guide on how to conduct an employee handbook review, then give us a call). This plan probably consists of a combination of steps, such as completing paperwork like form I-9, providing an employee handbook, laying out a 30/60/90 plan, assigning a mentor, checking in on a daily, weekly and/or monthly basis, and so forth.
Similarly, it is important to establish onboarding plans for remote employees, which often differ in key ways. It's expected that a portion of the onboarding plan remains the same for all employees, such as completing formal paperwork, providing an employee handbook, providing goals and the like. Critically, at least a portion of the onboarding plan should be unique to the remote and hybrid employee. This portion includes steps such as how you will formally introduce them to other team members within their team and external to their own team, laying forth specific codes of conduct, sharing information digitally or otherwise, methods of communication, ordering of supplies, and many other distinct considerations that differ from in-person employees.
Digital Access to Employee Handbooks and Guidelines
A digital version of the employee handbook should be provided during preboarding or onboarding and accessible 24/7 from within your cloud-based HR solution. The handbook should not only be accessible and up to date, but should explicitly contain policies for in-person, hybrid and remote employees.
Set Up Technology Prior to Onboarding
Most companies prefer remote employees use equipment - such as computers and computer peripherals - which are provided by the company itself. In such cases, make sure that the remote or hybrid employee receives the computer and an necessary equipment at least one day prior to onboarding, and that all the necessary software required for the individual to do her job is already installed.
Take the useful step of ensuring the new hire has easy access to IT professionals at the organization who will be able to troubleshoot issues should they arise.
Build Relationships With Remote Employees
Perhaps the most important aspect of remote and hybrid onboarding is the building of relationships. To have a successful working relationship with an employee, the company needs to take active steps to establish and develop rapport. Build a plan for team introductions, focused on introducing the new employee to key individuals they will work and interact with, ensuring the roles and responsibilities are discussed and make clear, so each team member can understand how to work with one another. Don't just leave introductions up to the employees.
Create a regular cadence of one-on-one and team meetings, ensuring that remote employees don't feel left on an island, late to receive critical information or feeling that others are inaccessible. These relationships establish the foundation for which the company culture is built upon.
Frequent Early-Stage Learning Opportunities
From group orientations to lunch-and-learns, one of the best ways to integrate remote and hybrid employees is through early-stage learning opportunities. These opportunities most often place the new hire in a group setting, allowing for networking within the organization and early-stage learning about what is important to the organization and teams within it.
Make it a checklist item or goal as part of the onboarding process to join at least 2 learning opportunities in the first month. This accomplishes two things; first, it establishes continuous learning as part of the company DNA, and second, it puts new team members into a setting to meet others outside of their immediate team.
An employee's first day can be daunting. They're still understanding how everything works and what's expected of them. They're also getting to know their supervisors and fellow employees. So it makes sense to get as much of the onboarding done before the first day as possible. This step between an employee signing the paperwork and their first formal day of employment is most frequently referred to as preboarding.
There are many things that can be done before the first day, from completing paperwork, and providing insight into the organizational chart and innerworkings of the teams, to laying out initial expectations and making informal introductions to other team members. Making the most of this preboarding step can help the new employee hit the ground running and make them feel at home by the time they start.
Create a Schedule/Agenda
It's important for any employee to have a structured schedule, but this is particularly important for a remote and hybrid employees because they're not going to have constant in-person supervision. A clearly planned schedule lays forth a foundation of expectations and aids in employee-manager relations.
Encouraging and scheduling a structured day early on in an employees tenure with the company can help the new team member build good habits, and can reduce the burden on managers and counterparts to constantly check-in to make sure work is being completed.
It can be extra-helpful if you have a cloud-based employee scheduling solution that helps steward this process along efficiently and transparently.
Remote and Hybrid employment is here to stay. Organizations that are treating this type of employment as a permanent fixture of the workplace and planning accordingly, are putting their employees across the organization in a position of strength. With proper guidance, preparation, and clearly documented policies and procedures, onboarding can be a foundational experience for new hybrid and remote employees, to fully understand their responsibilities and expectations, start building good habits, and establishing strong early-stage relationships. Get in touch to learn more about the Onboarding solutions we have to offer.