Now that WFH has become the norm rather than the exception and many companies have moved to hiring new employees without ever meeting in person, the next step in adapting to the new World of Work is to build onboarding practices that can accommodate new hires starting from a home office.
Employee onboarding is essential to helping new hires integrate into the company, the culture and the team. On-site this happens organically, but in the case of a remote employee, it has to be even more carefully planned and facilitated. Here are a few tips that will help reduce first-day jitters:
Roll Out the Virtual Welcome Mat
At least a week before their start date, make sure new hires have all the basic equipment they’ll need to get started, such as a laptop with all of the tools and apps their team uses already installed. If your company provided stipends for employees to set up an at-home office when your team first went remote, make sure that new hires receive this funding as well, so that they can build a comfortable remote work environment and feel cared for from the start.
Along with a welcome email that includes an agenda overviewing what to expect from their first week on the job, send them a handbook that explains which tools they will be using and how, as well as their personal credentials. Finally, mail them something that is company-branded, no matter your budget. It’s fun to get a box of swag, but even a new mug or a simple company sticker for their laptop or notebook can help new employees instantly feel like part of the team.
Walk Through Corporate Operations
Take some time on their very first day to explain the company vision and mission, helping them understand how what they do will help achieve the overall company objectives and feel pride in their role. Provide information about work policies, and other guidelines they need to follow during working hours, and make sure that you’re maintaining and updating your employee handbook on your intranet site so that they can readily access information and find answers to their questions.
Assign a Mentor or a Buddy
Of course, it can be easy for a remote hire to spend their entire first week with HR and their direct supervisor discussing details and logistics; after all, these people are responsible for successfully onboarding them to the role. But it’s critical that new hires can also find a peer to connect with early — which doesn’t always happen organically when teams aren’t sharing a physical office space.
Assign your new hire a mentor or a buddy from their team, who isn’t their supervisor or manager. Schedule check-ins for this “buddy” to connect with their new teammate daily throughout their first week, so that the new employee can ask questions, confirm what they’ve learned, and build an ally. Once you’ve identified the mentor, set up a video call introduction on day one, so that the new hire feels supported from the start.
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