About 3.4% of the U.S. workforce works remotely, that’s about 4.7 million employees. This burgeoning section of workforce has grown 400% in the last decade and it is likely that some of your current employees already work remotely, even if it is a couple of days a week. Accommodating this type of employee doesn’t take a lot of extra work, just a little extra know-how, including using onboarding to get the relationship off on the right foot.

Traditional onboarding shows your new employee your company’s culture, lays out job responsibilities, makes team introductions, completes all necessary and legally-required paperwork, signs off on company policies and schedules required training. Just because your employee might be remote, doesn’t mean any of these onboarding steps should be skipped.

Strong Communication is a Must

A company that makes communication a priority will reap the benefits as poor communication can drag your company down, impacting your finances. But implementing strong communication practices during onboarding is even more important when some of your employees are remote.

  • Meet face-to-face. If at all possible, bring your remote employee to your location for a face-to-face meeting. In fact, periodic visits to the company headquarters are a great way for remote employees to develop a stronger bond between managers and co-workers. Face-to-face meetings also give remote employees a better sense of your company culture and allows them to provide real-time feedback. If an in-person visit just isn’t in the cards, be sure to make any virtual meetings engaging by using video.
  • Loop everyone in on training. Your remote worker needs to know more than just his or her responsibilities; allow your current employees to virtually touch base with your new hire to explain their positions. Ask seasoned workers to set up Zoom or Microsoft Teams meetings with your new employee to introduce themselves and discuss how they’ll work together in the future.
  • Use tools to effectively project manage across locations. Once your employees start, quickly get them up to speed on how your staff works together. There is an array of software out there, like Monday.com, Smartsheet and Wrike, that allow companies to manage tasks between team members online. These applications make sure everyone is on the same page about how the work will get done no matter if they’re in the same building or across the country.

Make the Onboarding Process Simple and Easy

For any process to be effective, it has to be easy. Make your employee onboarding difficult and clumsy and your new hires will not only be reluctant to finish it but they might also get a negative impression of your company.

  • Allow it to be accessible from anywhere. A cloud-based onboarding system, like Arcoro’s onboarding software, can be assessed from any laptop, desktop or mobile device so onboarding remote employees is simple and easy. When a system is 100% paperless and cloud-based, it can streamline the entire process and eliminate any data input errors.
  • Start before day one. Because the process is cloud-based, and accessible from anywhere, you can actually get your new employee to fill out their paperwork before day one. This is an essential part of onboarding as employers are required to get several documents from employees for legal reasons and compliance with government regulations. This paperwork includes:
    • W-4 or W-9 for contractors
    • I-9 Employee Eligibility Verification form
    • State Tax Withholding form
    • Direct deposit form
    • E-Verify system that verifies employee eligibility in the United States

Systems like Arcoro’s Onboarding feature an e-filing cabinet that lets you manage, view, store and export all your onboarding-related documents.

  • Make sure your new employee is moving through the process. An onboarding process contains a lot of information your new employee needs to know but also can seem overwhelming. When your employee is remote, the option to go to a manager or co-worker to ask questions is more laborious. Break down the information into smaller sections and touch base with the new hire after each segment is complete.

Continue the Feeling of Connectivity

Once onboarding is over, your remote employee can easily feel isolated as all of the attention from hiring and onboarding is over, and your employee is essentially left on his or her own. Take steps to continually keep them in the loop.

  • Trust your employees. Remote employees will be more productive if you’re not checking in on them every five minutes. No one likes to be micromanaged; doing so will just cause frustration and push your employees towards disengagement. While you don’t want to completely ignore them, you still should trust them to work independently and meet deadlines on their own. Consider their work hours and time zone before scheduling meetings and give them some time to respond to any chats or emails.
  • Keep effective communication lines open. A weekly one-on-one or team meeting keeps everyone on the same page and ensures expectations are clear. For remote employees, video calls are an easy way to help them feel connected because you see their facial expressions. Also, be sure to include your remote employees in the creative process. Invite remote employees to brainstorm, strategize or schedule a working session.
  • Focus on performance management. Performance management is ideal to keep your new remote employee engaged. Performance management software provides the framework for your employees to be their very best by providing them with regular, actionable feedback. Regular performance reviews also allow for peer-to-peer, outside-organization and project-based feedback to put your workforce in a position to improve in the short term and the long run. You can even solicit reviews from your direct reports.

Checklist for Onboarding Remote Workers

  • Gather and ship equipment like a laptop, laptop bag and mouse.
  • Ask IT to connect with the remote employee to ensure the equipment and software are working properly.
  • Put together and ship a welcome kit containing company swag like t-shirts, pens, coffee mugs and so on.
  • E-mail a link to begin onboarding at home before the first day.
  • Ask remote workers fill out HR paperwork and upload any legal documents.
  • Have the remote employee read and electronically sign off on the company handbook.
  • Explain the communication tools you use including e-mail, group messaging and video conferencing.
  • Train the remote worker to use your project management software.
  • Set up virtual meetings between the new remote worker and managers, team members and other employees.
  • Invite the remote worker to a virtual team-building exercise.
  • Set short- and long-term goals with your performance management software.
  • Schedule regular virtual meetings to check in on your remote worker’s progress.

With today’s technology, companies aren’t limited to hiring employees in their city or region. Now the best person for the job can live anywhere. Arcoro’s modular HR management software is cloud-based and mobile-compatible so your remote workers, and your current employees who work from home at times, can access it from anywhere, 24/7. Schedule a demo today to see it for yourself.