Onboarding work-from-home, remote employees and managing their performance poses a challenge to organizations, which can be managed if they follow some strategies and best practices:
1. Digitally transform the onboarding processes. 2. Help the remote employee to make the required social connections within the organization. 3. Provide the required support through coaching, training and buddy support to help the remote employee move up the learning curve. 4. Get recognition for the remote employee, so that they can pitch in during a discussion with an opinion. 5. Use technology to connect everyone and plan activities to boost the acceptance. 6. Offer the right tools and items to provide a sense of belonging to the employee. 7. Make the employee imbibe the organizational culture and vision to become a part of the organization. 8. Be clear about your policies, and expectations. 9. Set clear guidelines for performance and shared purpose. 10. Record the details of the remote employee’s performance, to inform their appraisal process later.
Recent developments clearly demonstrate the innovative mindset and resilience of organizations. When the pandemic resulted inevitably in lockdowns, a few organizations were already in the habit of allowing work-from-home as an occasional perk. The rest of them were caught completely unawares and had to go up the learning curve, in a hurry. Once they were all caught up and familiar with the practice, many are now looking at not just work-from-home, but also work-from-anywhere options. Many are also looking at hiring people from anywhere to work for them. In this post, we want to discuss how such remote employees need to be onboarded and some best practices which need to be practiced, when virtually onboarding someone.
Virtually onboarding remote employees is definitely an alien concept to many, and people definitely fare better with some basic handholding. Starting work-from-home, without having met a single person as an employer would prove equally unnerving to the remote employee. The employee will need the employer to provide the right structure and to do it right. Provide an outstanding onboarding experience to your remote employees, using some of the best practices discussed here:
Ease the process of applying for equipment and any required paperwork. Embracing digital transformation and adopting technology tools help to manage many activities and processes which were handled face to face earlier.
Lay a foundation for the new hire to make new relationships with people in their own team as well as in the workplace itself. Introduce them to your products/services and discuss your organizational goals, performance and challenges, if any.
Managers need to take coaching more seriously and make the onboarding process as informative as possible. Consider recording videos of induction sessions or hold sessions online with videoconferencing. Hold multiple sessions one-on-one or between teams and guest speakers, if necessary. Designate someone to act as a buddy to the new employee, in the initial days to make sure that they get assimilated well into the teams.
Help the employee find a voice in the organization, by involving them in cross-functional, or internal/external client meetings online to help them understand the expectations and deliver to requirements.
Using audio/video conferencing and texting apps offers a good alternative to meetings, just as shared documents and all-team presentations break through barriers and improve relations. Holding fun activities like quizzes, games, and group activities like virtual coffee breaks and lunches together online helps to break the ice.
Choosing the right technology to enable employees to deliver on their jobs remotely is a major consideration. When new employees join, and have their laptop shipped to their homes, it is important to ensure that their system has the right configuration and applications needed, with the additional ability to troubleshoot any issues remotely. Get company branded items delivered to the new employees, if available.
The employee’s role may have responsibilities which pose a challenge when being delivered remotely. Help them access the right resources, tools, processes, connections, and a checklist of things they would need at their desks, if applicable. some welcome emails from teammates would offer a nice touch. Share your mission, vision, values and culture. Adopt a tool to manage performance and to recognize employees.
Provide clarity on your expectations from them. Provide a written employee handbook or list laying out all HR policies and discuss vacation, time-off, sick-off etc. Share info on mandatory activities and trainings. Deposit all onboarding information in a shared folder online.
Make them understand their deliverables as well as the goals towards which they need to work. Setting up goals helps to ensure employee performance and keep them on track to contribute their best to the development of the organization itself. These goals could be SMART or OKR-based. Their purpose is to help the employee work with confidence and commitment towards achieving them, even without direct supervision. The task of aligning employees with organizational goals would become easy with the adoption of a suitable Performance Management System.
Record your observations and impressions of their performance, so you would be aware of the positives as well as negatives of the employee’s performance. Depending on the performance management system adopted by you, you could use these insights in times of employee appraisals.
Employees have a high level of enthusiasm when they start any new job and the onus of ensuring that it is sustained lies with the onboarding plan itself. Make the employee feel valued and heard. Provide them with all the resources needed to enable them to fulfill the responsibilities of their role. Offer them the required support and collaboration. These are important for any onboarding plan, but more so when the employee is being onboarded virtually. Onboarding someone remotely requires a fine balance between logistics and emotional support. Celebrate any achievements and milestones reached, like completing a month, six months and before you know, the work anniversary rolls around. It calls for a definite celebration only if you have managed to keep the employee as committed on Day 1 as on Day 366.
Read the following blog posts to learn how to increase employee engagement and essential competencies of remote employees.