Employers only get one shot at successfully onboarding employees. Limp welcome handshakes, team pizza and a template email from the CEO are nice to haves, but they’re ultimately generic.
With The Great Resignation having shifted what we expect from our work and employer, new starters willing to invest themselves will want authenticity, personalisation and relevance.
For remote employees, onboarding plays an even more crucial role—especially since remote work can lack the routine office commute and organic, face-to-face immersion in a work culture that’s outside of candidates’ usual environment.
Before Onboarding Remote Employees, You Need to Hire them (Compliantly)
If you’re onboarding employees, it’s likely as part of rolling out expansion plans. If you’re virtually onboarding remote employees, it’s likely those plans include officeless expansion in new countries.
If you haven’t gotten that far and are still weighing up the risk-benefit assessment, make sure to shortlist partnering with an Employer of Record service provider. They’ll become the legal employer of your remote teams, smoothing out cost, compliance and complexity hurdles along the way.
The Importance of Onboarding Remote Employees
Let’s face it, we hardly need to spell this out. Every HR team and people manager knows that onboarding employees is fundamentally about three things:
- Inclusivity & shared experience: No matter how sociable or not, we all need to feel part of a tribe
- Performance & competence: No matter how able and motivated, poor onboarding disempowers new-starter performance. Both for a bad impression, and not learning the ropes.
- Commitment & retention: No matter how good the coffee or generous the pension, a regretful employee onboarding experience isn’t easily forgotten. Get it right and new starters are likely to stay longer.
The point is, that achieving these perks during remote, virtual onboarding, means getting better organised with employee engagement way ahead of their first day.
Hurdles to Virtually Onboarding Remote Employees
Successfully onboarding remote employees virtually at a distance means first mapping out the various challenges vs onboarding employees in physical offices.
Remote remits and personality types
The first challenge is matching your virtual employee onboarding plan to specific employees.
In other words, It’s worth designing an onboarding wireframe loose enough, and with few moving parts, so that you can tweak it to different remits and personalities.
You might even go as far as to consult with incoming remote employees about how they want to roll during onboarding. Needless to say, training schedules should remain fixed, but pizza Friday and making a big fuss might not be their vibe.
Allow us to illustrate.
“I’m a team player! Where are my new playmates?”
‘People’ people, perhaps suited to energetic sales, marketing and client-facing roles, as just a couple of examples, might be cool with making a big splash. Perhaps they’d like the chance to introduce themselves on the company-wide call and discuss their background.
These personality types usually want to make connections quickly. They may be keen to generate credibility and a little hype. Perhaps they’re keen to nurture their ‘personal brand’ (we hate that phrase too).
“I’m a lone wolf. Just let me do my thing and watch me fly”
Lone rangers, perhaps suited to technical, creative or heavily analytical roles might shrug off the thought of being paraded around on their first day.
Remember, lone-rangers aren’t necessarily ‘not team players’. They just might prefer or naturally suit quiet, focused introverted remits and teams.
Remember too that ‘introvert’ doesn’t mean ‘shy’ and ‘extrovert’ doesn’t mean ‘confident’. It’s about how people juice their mental energy, and how they like to spend that energy.
Smart HR teams personalise employee onboarding
Smart HR teams and managers who understand these kinds of details, either intuitively or by actively asking candidates, will tailor stronger virtual onboarding experiences that cater for remote employees’ subtle needs and wants.
Housekeeping: Getting the Paperwork Done
The upshot of the world of work has gone digital post-Covid is that physical paperwork and HR admin workflows have been streamlined.
That said, the need for due diligence, accurate employee classification by region, and candidate vetting remains the same. Naturally, work eligibility, visas, tax arrangements and any other administrative considerations must be tirelessly addressed as part of remote employee onboarding.
Get the compliant work-contract paperwork done in minutes
If it helps, your free Playroll dashboard includes a work-contract builder. In a couple of simple steps, you can create assured, pre-compliant work contracts to send to in-country candidates.
Once they accept your offer of employment made via Playroll, we’ll take care of all the paperwork. We’ll make sure they’re legit with the right documentation.
We’ll also update you with notifications and progress data via your Playroll dashboard on how vetting is going.
Making Remote Employees Feel Part of the Tribe
Ok, housekeeping, over.
Now it’s time to roll out the virtual red carpet for your remote employees to make them feel genuinely valued, from a distance.
Remote talent should be able to demonstrate remote competence
Achieving a sense of unity in remote teams starts with hiring the right people able to demonstrate that they don’t need to be all under one roof to gel and collaborate. If you’ve vetted and interviewed your new talent well, this should be no problem.
They don’t have to have had experience in prior remote roles, though they do need to show that they can stand on their own two feet and remain task-oriented and motivated, without the need for supervision.
People and culture first, tools and systems later
To assist the process of integrating remote employees into new teams and remits, focus first on connecting them with the right people; A.K.A, their boss, their boss’s boss and all relevant colleagues and stakeholders.
Then, and only then, connect them with the systems, tools and processes they’ll need. Avoid starting with systems tools and processes. This feels mechanical and will only serve to foster a robotic sense of “you’re here to work”.
Familiarisation and assigning buddies
In their first week, if it’s practical, assign a different colleague each day to check in with new remote employees and offer support.
Ensure also that they get to break the ice with the people who interviewed them to start forming bonds and feel reassured by the people they know were involved in buying into them.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
Familiarisation is as much about getting to know processes and people as it is about gaining a feeling of psychological safety. To achieve that, communication needs to be light, and not always focused on work, so encourage new-starter ‘buddies’ to be curious about new, remote employees beyond simply learning about their professional past.
When Work Feels Like Play, the Perks of Effective Employee Onboarding Grow and Grow
If you’ve done things right, your newly-onboarding remote teammates should quickly reward you with lasting commitment and dedication.
Ultimately, though, onboarding is an ongoing process of continual onboarding remote teams into a growing remote-work culture that respects their right to individuality, flexibility, equality, collective camaraderie and purposeful employee experience.
When work can feel like play, at least most of the time, employees (remote or not) will reward you by giving the best of themselves all of the time.
Discover how Playroll makes work feel like play
Create your free Playroll account here and find out how Playroll’s HR compliance automation can make work feel like play for the teams tasked with hiring and onboarding your new, remote talent.