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Tips for Onboarding Remote Employees

Kristen Harcourt Jul 16, 2015 7:30:00 AM

Research has demonstrated that onboarding employees can lead to dramatic increases in retention, productivity, engagement and cost-savings for employers. Developing an onboarding program for on-site employees is challenging enough, what do you do for remote employees?

Onboarding remote employees presents a unique set of challenges, and they’re also the group most in need of effective onboarding because they lack the day-to-day interaction and exposure that on-site employees have. Here are some tips to help you create an effective onboarding experience for your remote employees. For more detailed tips on building a better onboarding program, download our Ultimate Guide to Employee Onboarding.

Bring them in if you can: If you have the resources, try and bring your employee into the office for a short period, even two weeks, to get to know the team. Although there are so many applications for remote communication and management, nothing truly replaces face-to-face communication

Video, video and more video: That being said, there are whole teams that are remote and unfortunately bringing everyone together isn’t always possible. That’s why any important conversations or developments are best delivered in a video chat or conference. So much of communication is non-verbal, without body language or tone; your employees are missing nearly 90 percent of what you’re conveying.

Get Some and Give Some: As with onboarding in-house employees, the only way to know if you’re onboarding effectively is to ask for feedback. Likewise, the only way for your employee to know if they are integrating effectively is to receive some feedback from you. Provide them with real time feedback regularly as well as formal reviews on a monthly basis.

Cross Training: Because your employee is physically away from their coworkers, any issue that they can’t solve individually will likely have some kind of wait associated with it, such as waiting for a phone call, email or chat. If you teach your employee some of the ins and outs of different positions, they’ll be able to work independently to solve personal or client-related issues in the event that they can’t reach the person responsible.

How Assessments Can Help

Working remotely requires a certain personality type to keep focused and productive. You can use behavior assessments like McQuaig to find employees who have the personality required to work remotely, in addition to the other traits required for success in the role. Do they get easily distracted? Do they feel isolated when they aren’t being social? This doesn’t mean they won’t be suitable to work from home, it just means that they may need more coaching or frequent communication to keep on track. The insights into personality provided will also provide managers with the tools to better coach and develop their remote staff, something that is often made more challenging by the lack of face-to-face contact.

In addition, you can also assess how your new hire will function within a team using the Team Approach Report. This is especially important because team communication is critical for success with remote teams. Without it, work will get forgotten about, needlessly duplicated, or held up.

The Benefits of Remote Workers

Remote employees are going to save you money, be more engaged, increase their productivity and are more easily retained. By onboarding these new employees properly, you increase your chances of realizing these benefits and retaining your remote employees for the long-term.

If you have remote workers, how do you onboard them? What do you do to ensure their success?

 

Image courtesy of Flicker CC and Symo0
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Topics: Employee Engagement, Recruitment, Productivity, Employee retention, Team Building

Kristen Harcourt

Written by Kristen Harcourt

Kristen Harcourt is a highly trusted, creative and collaborative advisor who is passionate about people. She really enjoys helping companies make the right people decisions to achieve long term productivity.