10 Tips on Onboarding Remote Employees

We’re seeing more businesses engage REMOTE employees and subcontractors as they try to attract the best talent, regardless of location.

Remote employment presents challenges, including ONBOARDING, which means helping employees quickly become comfortable, engaged and productive. Here are tips on making the onboarding process a success.

1. Plan for IT needs well in advance

Employees cannot work effectively without secure access to business applications and company-supplied hardware. In addition, to set up, help may be needed on home-networking issues and explaining security protocols. Make sure this doesn’t create delays.

2. Be clear on the job description and work rules

This sounds obvious but, unlike office employees, enforcing rules and policies is more difficult. Working hours, roles, reporting lines, timelines, meeting schedules and travel protocols are just a few things which can become confusing. Flexibility may be appropriate… but it’s still essential to have clear ground rules in place.

3. Take an interest in the remote workspace setup

Some Employees have been working from home for years and are effective in a home environment. Others are novices and need a lot of guidance. The employer should ensure they have the necessary facilities like a desk, chair, laptop, phone and specialised gear, (like a noise-canceling headset), dependable internet and, possibly, a separate phone line. Develop policies around providing these to remote employees OR offering a stipend.

4. Assign a buddy

The buddy or mentor system can create a sense of belonging. It also facilitates meaningful introductions to co-workers, supervisors and managers (more than giving a list or link to a company org. chart). 

5. Be aware of local employment regulations

Remote employees may operate in jurisdictions which determine withholding tax based on gross earnings, filing status, number of exemptions and pay frequency. Be aware of these rules as well as any other employer obligations like covering employee expenses arising from the discharge of their duties. 

6. Stage the onboarding process

Avoid information overload. Complete onboarding in short, easy-to-digest sessions so that other important tasks don’t get neglected. Allow the remote employees time for questions as they work through onboarding. 

7. Provide early exposure to development opportunities

Employers should offer professional development options which are appealing to employees – including remote employees. Make these available early so remote employees think long term about their employment future.

8. Provide a remote employee handbook

It’s worth investing in a comprehensive but simple document which anticipates remote employees’ questions and concerns. This can be shared once the contract is signed and forms part of the agenda for early meetings with the remote employee. At the very least, Frequently Asked Questions will give the remote employee confidence while saving the time of managers who need to respond. 

9. Encourage collaboration

Remote employees may not be comfortable reaching out through existing channels. A buddy can help with this as can periodic team-building activities. Leaders have an important role in making team members comfortable and this may involve meeting one to one to better understand the personalities involved.

10. Happy teams are successful teams!!

Setting clear goals, good project management, clarity on roles, decisive leadership and clear communication usually leads to success in business. Teams thrive in this environment and focus on the successes versus challenges. This is especially the case for remote workers who may miss out on office activities. 

In summary, work doubly hard to lay a foundation for the success of your remote employees. This initial energy and investment will yield positive long-term results. Prepare well, document your approach and be patient!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact our office.

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