Onboarding Remote Workers: 10 Ideas to Welcome Employees

If your organization has remote workers, you may be familiar with a virtual onboarding process. However, do you know how to make your employees feel welcome? A new work environment can take a bit of time to adjust to – especially if you’re logging into the virtual office in lieu of physical space. So, think about what you can do to make the new hires embrace the remote company culture! But first, read this article! In this post, we offer a fresh perspective on standard operating procedures and provide 10 ideas you can use to make remote employees feel like they are a part of the team, from day one.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. An individualized onboarding procedure can lead to long-term success. Remember, every person is different and may require varying learning methods. 
  2. Remote work buddies or mentors can help new hires acclimate quickly. This is especially important for those who are new to the world of remote work. 
  3. Creating a sense of community can increase employee engagement and loyalty. When folks feel like they are an important part of a team, they perform better and stay longer. 
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10 Ideas for Onboarding New Employees in the Virtual Office

Every organization’s onboarding process is a bit different. However, we can all agree that hiring a remote worker is just the first step. The next step is to make the new employee feel like they are a valued team member. Think about it for a moment.

Generally speaking, it’s imperative that the new hires get a positive impression of the company culture within the first week of coming onboard – especially if they are fulfilling new roles within the organization. Employers who intentionally set aside time for one on one attention with new hires and focus on quality training often reap the benefit of increased employee engagement.

So, let’s get into these tips! The information below can act as a guideline for employers who are in the process of building a new team or adding to their repertoire of remote work hacks.

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1. Send a care package.

Welcoming new employees doesn’t have to be a costly endeavor. In this instance, it is truly the thought that counts! So, consider making your new employee feel welcome by sending a branded care package before the employee arrives.

Corporate care packages can go a long way when it comes to making the new employees feel welcome! And while they may cost the company something, the benefits of this caring gesture are great for business. After all, it’s hard to put a price on rising employee engagement, increased productivity, and boosted morale.

2. Connect the new hire to their coworkers via coffee chats.

If your goal is to make your new employees feel welcome, you’ll need to connect them to the team as soon as possible – preferably during the week an employee starts their new role. We admit that coordinating meetings during a new hire’s onboarding process can be a bit nerve-wracking. However, connecting with others can help new employees feel more comfortable in their new environment.

So, consider setting aside time to introduce the new hire to their coworkers. This introductory meeting can take the form of a virtual coffee chat, remote work lunch, or even an online happy hour – if that’s appropriate for your company culture. Whatever you choose to do for your employees is up to you! Just keep in mind that the goal is to create a strong sense of belonging.

3. Give employees a digital handbook to reference during training.

The onboarding process can be quite paperwork-intensive. So, consider giving your new employee a digital handbook to have for future reference.

Now, let’s be honest – the new employee’s first day may not be the best day to hand this document over, as they may be overloaded with information. However, within the first few days of being hired, the employee should be given a handbook or a company guideline. This is important because handbooks set clear expectations and can keep employees aligned with the company’s mission over time. Ultimately, employee handbooks help new hires feel a sense of stability within the organization and excited to learn more about the job that lies ahead.

4. Create a buddy system if possible.

If you have a distributed team that works across the globe, it may be a bit difficult to arrange introductory meetings with your new hire and existing staff members. However, it is still important for the new employee to meet people! One solution to making the new hire feel welcome is to create a buddy system or mentorship program.

By partnering a new hire with a seasoned colleague or mentor, you’ll help the employee acclimate to their new work environment rather quickly. Additionally, this practice can help forge new relationships among co-workers in the process. Creating this system of remote work buddies can be extremely useful, especially if your new hire is unfamiliar with the virtual workforce!

5. Build a virtual community.

Technology connects remote teams across time and space. However, it is not just for file sharing. Technology can be used to create dynamic relationships between colleagues who would otherwise never meet.

So, consider the ways you can help build a sense of community among coworkers who only connect online. Can you create non-work-specific Slack channels to keep employees engaged and connected on topics of interest? Can you host more virtual team-building sessions to foster cross-departmental friendships?

There are numerous ways to build a virtual community – all of which help your new hire feel welcome and motivated as time goes on.

overview of remote worker's desk

6. Assign a personalized remote onboarding plan with goals and milestones.

Every person is different. And arguably, so is every employee’s job role. So, it might be necessary to create an individualized onboarding plan.

After all, many newly remote or hybrid employees look forward to having concrete goals to accomplish and appreciate continued support throughout their tenure. If you’re a manager or team lead, consider creating a 30, 60, or 90-day plan for your new hire. This personalized onboarding plan can include project tasks, short-term goals, milestones, and more!

7. Start professional development on day one.

In addition to wanting everyone to feel welcomed, it’s important to prove to employees that you care about their professional development. The company’s enthusiasm for personal and professional development will, in turn, inspire the employee to be even more loyal! 

Folks tend to invest in the organizations that invest in them, in some capacity. So, start the conversation within the first week or first month of a new hire joining the team. If you’re not sure what type of professional development to provide, consider conducting a survey among existing and newly-hired employees.

8. Remember role-specific training may be necessary.

Often, onboarding can be a generic process that employees of varying skill levels go through. However, organizations may benefit from creating some role-specific training once the onboarding basics are taken care of.

This can be especially important if you hire designers, developers, or creative professionals, as those specialized fields often require the new hire to perform very specific, complicated tasks.

9. Consider hosting a telecommunications orientation.

Does your remote work organization use collaborative tools to get projects done? Do you communicate via Slack, Asana, Google Hangouts, etc? Do you require remote workers to install a VPN to keep sensitive data safe? 

Onboarding can involve quite a bit of information. So, it might be wise to host a separate telecommunications orientation. During a learning session such as this, the organization’s IT team can present information to the new hires. In this space, new employees can learn the best practices for company-wide cybersecurity, obtain necessary passwords and get an overall sense of how they should communicate with the team they just joined. 

10. Encourage feedback from new employees.

As the onboarding process comes to a close, it might a good idea to ask your newly-trained employee how they feel about the process. This feedback can help you refine the onboarding procedures, fill in gaps in knowledge and gauge how the new hire feels. 

So, consider creating an onboarding survey. The survey can include questions that test the employee’s knowledge of the company or that simply ask how they felt engaging with new coworkers. The possibilities are endless here. However, you should tailor the onboarding survey to your specific company needs so you can procure the information that is most helpful. 

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Remote work is here to stay. So, it’s important that onboarding and training include downtime to connect as humans while still focusing on the job at hand. Whatever is not covered in an offer letter, can be conversed about during this transition period. And even more importantly, new hires can connect with existing employees in a fun and creative ways to create a company culture that is vibrant, communicative, and inclusive.