You've just given an offer to your dream employee, and you're excited to bring them on — the only thing is you won't be meeting them in person.
How can you ensure your new virtual hire has a seamless transition into the company? It's a stressful situation that many hiring managers and HR departments are finding themselves in with the rise of remote work.
More and more work is happening at home, from C-suite to freelance contractors, and everyone still needs to go through a thorough onboarding process. Smooth onboarding keeps employees happy, businesses operating, and the money moving.
You can't afford to stop and start your virtual onboarding. Follow these tips and get it right the first time.
1) First Impressions Still Matter
You might never meet your new hire in person, who may live miles away across many time zones. But it is still essential to give a warm welcome.
It is jarring for a new hire to open their laptop and get thrust into a new company. Without the usual office tour, remote onboarding eliminates a massive part of getting to know a company.
Consider sending a gift, like a company mug or shirt. Anything that says ‘you’re a part of the team' will make your new hire feel at ease.
You're not going to bump into colleagues in your kitchen — but you can create casual meetings. Host a welcome meeting in which other employees are free to drop in and introduce themselves.
It may not be as natural as the old water cooler, but it does break the ice!
2) Don't Rush
One of the unintended consequences of rising remote work culture has been plummeting rates of worker retention. Employees have felt distant from their jobs and lost connections to the people running the day-to-day business. To keep an employee longer, value their time and don't toss them in the deep end right away.
Let the onboarding process be a slow introduction to all aspects of the job. Expect to spend at least a month walking your employee through everything they need to know. Always leave plenty of time for feedback and questions.
Filling out paperwork and watching training videos might go by faster online. But folding someone into the company culture will take much longer.
Various executives may want to have one-on-one time and make sure to schedule ample interview times.
There will be more questions for you to answer during virtual onboarding than in person. A cubical neighbor can be a new hire's point person at the office, but online — it all falls to you. Take your time and don't expect to answer everything in one day or even one week!
When your new hire feels taken care of, they’re more likely to stay and become an entrenched team member.
3) Outline Work-Home Boundaries and Scheduling Conflicts Before Day One
At the office, you only work within company walls. Online, those borders blur, and the line between work and personal become fuzzy.
Be upfront and ask your employees about their scheduling conflicts. Need to take the kids to school at 7:30 AM? Need to pick the kids up at 3:00 PM? Have a standing tennis match at 5:00 PM? Maybe a therapy session every Tuesday at 1:00 PM?
Remote work encourages freedom. Don't chain employees to their desks at home!
Set precise offline hours before they become a point of contention. Do not foster a culture that encourages round-the-clock emails simply because you are all at home.
If everyone on the team is aware of everyone else's schedule, setting up a meeting is more straightforward. Hiding conflicts only makes things worse for everyone involved.
Talk to your hire, and let them know it is OK and expected to have a life outside of work. If you feel comfortable, give an example of your conflicts to model how your company respects the lives of its employees.
4) Train for a New World
As foreign as remote onboarding might be for you, many employees are in the same boat. Don't expect all hires to take to this style of work right away.
Offer remote-specific training for all new hires. Some people will need help setting up their video conferencing software; others might need assistance managing their time. Training sessions are the places to ask obvious or embarrassing questions — make that clear.
Learning how to use Slack, Microsoft Teams, or other rapid communication programs is essential to a smooth workflow. Old-school hires may have never worked this way before and will need some help to differentiate quick, text-like messages from the formality of an email.
Some younger employees might already be tech wizards and perform better working from home. Pair up those who need an extra hand with digital natives.
Work from home isn't going away, as more companies are switching to full remote operations. Your employees need to be ready for a future where the home office is the norm, and your virtual onboarding can help them get there.
5) Don't Skip the Background Check
Just because the work is remote doesn't mean you can skip steps. Performing a background check is necessary for any employee across all positions and levels.
Employees receive access to sensitive information and protected company documents. You cannot take the risk of hiring an employee you can't trust.
Check employment history, criminal record, address verification, and education history. Never forget to follow up on references, either.
If you're sending your new hire a company computer, you are entrusting them with company property off-site. Since employees are working without supervision, a background check is more important than ever.
6) Don’t Brush Off Culture
Without an office, a new employee can miss out on your vibrant company culture. There are a few ways to make sure the spirit of the team stays burning.
Consider appointing a cultural ambassador, a volunteer who is excited to explain all the non-job-related aspects of the company. Is there a pick-up kickball team? Does the IT department have online game nights?
Find a way to emphasize company values and the mission of the business. A job can seem like just that without a high-level goal that requires everyone's collective efforts.
There isn’t time in official onboarding for these discussions. But making friends is a perk of any new job and should not be passed over.
7) Ask for Help
Once you have successfully onboarded your new employee and fully integrated them, ask for their help.
You can create a survey that touches on each step of the onboarding process to determine what worked and what didn’t. It's fine to admit this is a learning process from all sides, and welcome constructive criticism.
Maybe schedule a final check-in call where you can discuss onboarding and see what tips your new hire has.
Don’t expect to get everything right on the first try. There is so much to juggle between paperwork, training, and meetings — it’s normal for something to get lost in the jumble.
Stay open to communication, check-in often, and you’ll already be far ahead of many remote HR teams!
Virtual onboarding does not have to be stressful. If you follow the above steps, you’ll wonder how you ever brought on new members any other way.
To make the remote hiring process even smoother, partner up with ScoutLogic. We’ll take care of the background check for you.
One of our Scout specialists will temporarily join your HR team and offer complete transparency at every step of the process. You’ll even get alerts after every completed check.
With so much on your plate, give yourself the time to focus on what matters. Let Scout Logic take care of the details.