Advances in technology and digital capability make it possible for more people to work from home now than ever before. Although, there are numerous remote employee onboarding challenges that employers must overcome to make remote employees feel like one of the team.
Why does it matter? Slick onboarding processes for remote workers are not just necessary to get through the lockdown period. On the contrary, among the most common reasons for employees leaving within their first three months are sloppy onboarding procedures.
Then there is the added sense of disconnection employees often feel when doing remote work. If your onboarding process is not enough to make new remote workers feel welcome, it’s unlikely they will stick around long term.
During the coronavirus crisis, we helped many of our clients hire new staff by adapting their interview process, such as conducting interviews by video. However, it came to light that making remote hires was the simple part. The more pressing issue was that once a business has hired remote employees, unforeseen obstacles were getting in the way of agreeing on a start date.
Ideas To Help Overcome The Most Common Remote Employee Onboarding Challenges
We’ve compiled everything we have learned about overcoming remote employee onboarding challenges and offer solutions to the seven most common. We hope this helps employers who may be struggling to get their remote workers on board.
Challenge #1: Overcoming the Monotony of Onboarding Admin
If you were a remote worker, how compelled might you feel to read an employee handbook and contract? It’s highly likely you wouldn’t read it at all. Although if remote employees don’t take time to digest this riveting reading material, they could risk unwittingly breaking company rules.
To motivate them to spend time digesting your corporate documentation, how about sending them some branded goodies as an encouragement? Perhaps a branded mug to drink their coffee from as they peruse this valuable information. A pen featuring your company logo to fill in the paperwork might also make them feel part of the team.
Branded merchandise also encourages a sense of belonging that workers often miss out on when they’re not part of office culture. Furthermore, items featuring company logos can serve as a totem signifying the definition between work and personal time.
Furthermore, all pre-employment admin documents should be out of the way before their first day.
Challenge #2: Equipping Remote Workers With the Correct Tech Spec
Don’t trust that just because your new hire is willing to work from home; they have the equipment or software they need. Just as if they were working in the office, you would have their desk equipped with everything they need to hit the ground running.
Similarly, you should make sure your new remote team member has the equivalent kit that will allow them to be as productive when working from home.
Unfortunately, during the coronavirus crisis, some of our clients experienced problems in getting tech kits to new remote workers. For a start, certain tech suppliers took advantage of the increase in demand for equipment and vastly increased their prices. Cheeky!
But where some suppliers stocks are low, others have a surplus they’re eager to sell. So if your usual suppliers are unable to meet your needs, it’s worth exploring other channels you wouldn’t normally consider.
For example, instead of going straight for brands you already know, seek out less well-known suppliers. Alternatively, speak to other businesses in your niche, how are they tackling the issue?
Challenge #3: Delivering Equipment to New Employees
Another stumbling block for our clients to get over was that once they had the necessary gear, physically getting it to their new team members was a problem. Again, the demand for well-known couriers has increased enormously. Yet, this is where smaller, local suppliers can help and will no doubt welcome the business.
Where delivering kit to new hires is difficult, why not invite them into the office and show them around? A tour of the office is possible to do safely, even with social distancing measures in place.
There have even been instances where our directors have collected kit from our clients and delivered it to the candidates so they could start work. Of course, it’s in our best interests to help candidates to settle into their new roles as quickly as possible once they have accepted an offer of employment.
Challenge #4: How To Complete Remote Employee Inductions
While certain elements onboarding remote employees are more challenging, others are more straightforward than with onsite staff.
Thankfully, most companies rely on digital solutions for educating new employees on the systems they use and compliance with industry legislation. Therefore, candidates do not need to sit at a desk in the office; it is possible to do anywhere.
You will likely find that any software or systems you use will come with tutorials and online tests enabling new hires to demonstrate their proficiency.
Challenge #5: Making Remote Employees Feel Welcome
We have already touched on the challenges faced in making remote employees feel part of the team. However, it’s worth reiterating because a warm welcome is crucial in building relationships and gaining loyalty from remote workers. Therefore allowing your new teammates to experience your company culture should be a priority.
The very least employers should do to welcome new starters aboard is organise an online team meeting to introduce them to their new teammates. However, there are far more creative ways you can use video conferencing to welcome your newbies on board.
For example, let’s say you usually take your team out for drinks after work whenever a new employee starts. The same is easily achievable online using Zoom or Google Meet. You could even go one step further and organise a pub quiz or invite your team to play an online game.
Challenge #6: Encouraging Team Collaboration
When new employees have queries, it is all too easy for them to go straight to their manager for advice. Of course, it is probably quicker for all concerned to answer their questions directly and allow them to get on with their job. Although, by doing so, encourages them to be very reliant on you, which can be a significant drain on your time.
So if they come to you with role-specific queries, don’t answer them directly. Instead, direct to them to the member of the team who is most likely to help. Encouraging team members to have conversations through video chat, social media or Slack, will also help form social bonds.
Challenge #7: Ensuring the Health & Safety of Homeworkers
It is easy to overlook the health and safety of employees when they work from home. However, while they are carrying out remote work for your business, the company is still responsible for their wellbeing. Of course, you have no control over their environment, but you can encourage them to set up their workspace safely.
Remote Employee Onboarding Doesn’t Have to be Difficult
There are many benefits to hiring remote employees over office-based workers. For a start, it dramatically reduces overheads. Additionally, there is scope for finding niche skills from different areas or even time zones.
While it may be a different way of working, adapting your usual onboarding checklist to cover homeworkers is usually quite straightforward. We hope our findings help you amend your onboarding program to make your new remote team members feel welcome.
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