The business climate is always in a state of evolution. This has been particularly prevalent during the digital age, in which new technologies frequently influence how companies operate. In the last year, there has been a significant leap in the realm of remote working. While there had been some steady rise in the previous decade, the pandemic made it necessary for many businesses to make the shift earlier than expected.
While COVID-19 may have prompted the shift, it is increasingly likely that remote operations are here to stay for many companies. One recent survey of U.S. human resources (HR) executives found that around a third of organizations employing professionals and office workers predicted that 40% of their staff would still be working remotely a year after the pandemic. This means that businesses must arrange their hiring policies for 2021 and beyond to adapt to the needs of remote workers.
This starts with putting effort into providing the support remote workers need to remain engaged, happy, and productive through effective onboarding. As this can be very different from in-person procedures, it’s worth taking a closer look at what key aspects you should focus on.
You already know how important it is to make an excellent first impression in any scenario. The same goes for company culture. An early introduction to your businesses’ core values and how they are applied to activities is essential. It also helps to demonstrate that you consider your remote employees as an integral, valued part of your culture.
Having a strong sense of culture in a business can be instrumental in employee retention. Remote employees are already at the disadvantage of being physically separated from their colleagues. It can be a challenge to build teams and develop the sense of camaraderie that goes with it. Introducing them to the core culture on their first day can help them feel part of something bigger and keep them engaged in achieving mutual success and benefits. Therefore additional effort needs to be put into communicating this aspect of the company to remote workers during onboarding.
Gather the team they’ll be joining together in a short initial group call and talk about the actions and ideas that inform company culture. If possible, pair them with a colleague rather than a manager to guide them through not just the specifics of their job but practices that reflect the business’ commitment to workers’ wellbeing. Have them discuss creating a daily plan and creating a dedicated remote workspace to achieve a better work-life balance and greater success. Impress on them that you consider it essential for both productivity and fending off burnout that remote workers take adequate breaks. Such efforts ensure that new hires feel a part of the business and encourage them to forge stronger bonds with the company and their colleagues.
Just because the technical expertise required to undertake a position in the office or remote may be the same doesn’t mean the necessary tools to complete the tasks are identical in both environments. As such, your onboarding process needs to include training that is optimized for remote work.
Wherever possible, your remote new hires’ introduction to the tools should be guided by a live coach. Most popular video call platforms, including Skype and Zoom, have screen-sharing features. This allows the coach to actively demonstrate how they are completing tasks using the remote working tools to enable the trainee to see what is happening and ask questions. Circumspectly, the new hire can share their screen to allow the coach to ensure that the new hire has a working understanding of the processes.
Documentation that provides detailed descriptions of how to use tools can be good reference materials. Still, training videos tend to be more engaging — particularly where an employee needs to undertake education independently in a remote situation. While this can be as simple as screen recording a trainer using the tools while providing a narration, you can achieve greater clarity by planning your educational videos first. Formalize an outline of the video’s objectives, and set a framework for how you intend to explore each element of the training on film. If you require more than one type of shot — say, a mixture of screen captures and physical demonstrations of non-computer activity — it can be helpful to create a storyboard. Good preparation is vital for quality remote educational video content that workers can refer back to whenever they need to.
One of the most important contributors to the success of remote operations is effective communication. During onboarding, you need to make distinct efforts to show how these features are part of your business and the protocols for operations. Ambiguity in this area can lead to chaos very quickly.
Walking them through the specifics of the communications platforms you use is a good start — this provides them with practical advice on how and when to use these different platforms. These platforms should be kept as simple as possible, with clear channels for each project. However, it’s just as essential to explain why communication is vital to each aspect of work and the business as a whole. Use this not only to provide workers with a focus on how this affects organizational objectives but also to set expectations about how they individually impact the success of projects.
Remote operations have the potential to be positive for your business. However, this begins by adopting an onboarding process geared toward supporting new hires working from home. With a focus on including employees as an integral part of company culture, practical training, and focus on communications protocols, you can help ensure remote working is successful for your company and help workers feel more connected to the business.