The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way small businesses operate in many ways, but the largest global shift we have seen is the increase in remote work and work done from home. Even as we emerge on the other side of the pandemic, remote work is here to stay, which means onboarding new employees is a bit more challenging when done remotely.
There are endless benefits of remote work for both the employee and employer. We go into further detail about how remote work can benefit your small business in an earlier post as well. A frequent question we have received from small business owners is how to onboard a new remote employee.
One of the benefits of working for a small business is the welcoming, tight-knit community of dedicated team members. Some small business owners worry that the company culture will not translate well through a remote role. However, we believe a remote employee can be just as integrated into a business virtually if welcomed and trained properly. Here are our tips on how to onboard remote employees:
1. Treat virtual onboarding the same as in-person onboarding
On a remote employee’s first day, it is still your job to get the employee familiar with your company, its mission and values, team, and processes. Above all, the first day should make the new hire feel welcomed, valued, and included. Since the remote employee will not be showing up to the office in the morning, consider scheduling a video conference first thing in the morning so the employee has a set of action items they can complete throughout the first day. It is critical to make sure they feel connected to you. Effective, clear, and constant communication is key for remote work!
2. Help introduce new employees to current employees
Consider scheduling meetings between the new remote employee and several different staff members. This will give the new employee the opportunity to meet as many staff members a possible and get to know their new team!
3. Make paperwork easy and digital
Think about transferring all new hire paperwork online that only requires an e-signature. This way, new employees can view, edit, and sign all documents needed to begin working conveniently and quickly.
4. Include new employees on email chains
Since remote employees will not be in the office to learn the nuances of specific tasks or company culture, it is helpful to include them on all email communication, even if it is just for them to read through. This way, they can gain a better sense of projects already in progress and how to handle certain tasks or issues.
5. Keep frequent communication
Throughout the first few weeks, schedule frequent 1:1s with the new employee and their manager. This is the best way to check in to see how the new hire is handling all their tasks and to see if they have any questions. During this time, you can assign new tasks as well. Be sure to let your personality shine through! Sometimes a more informal meeting is best in order to establish a strong, trustworthy bond between manager and remote employee.
6. Send a welcome email before they start
Do not forget to email them a welcome message that includes what to expect on their first day! This email can be sent 1-7 days before their start date! It is also best practice to inquire sooner rather than later if new hires need any tech equipment like a computer or printer in order to be successful during their first week.
We hope you will consider how remorse work could benefit your small business! As we progress forward in the digital age, there are endless opportunities to hire new employees from anywhere in the world to help support your business. Remember, as your virtual staff grows, consider how you can continue engaging all remote employees throughout the year.
Possibly host a quarterly happy hour, schedule virtual weekly or monthly team meetings with both remote and in-person team members in attendance, or even acknowledge a job well done with a handwritten card or even reward sent by mail. As the world continues to return to normal, remote employees should also have the opportunity to visit the office and meet the entire staff. Hosting annual conferences or fully in-person work weeks where remote team members can travel to the offices is also a great idea to think about.