In many organizations today, the “where” of work is flexible. Employees may work in an office, from home or a hybrid of the two. Regardless of where they’re working from, though, it’s essential for the company to provide them with equal access to professional development opportunities and company resources.

That includes the onboarding process. Remote employees should have an experience similar to what employees who work on-site have when they join the company. To make sure that happens with your remote hires, consider taking the following actions:

1. Ship technology tools before Day One

Put in requisitions for the company-issued laptop, phone or other required office equipment in advance, so your new remote employee has what they need technologically to get down to work quickly. Send the new hire clear instructions on how to connect to the company server, including how to contact your tech support team for any troubleshooting they may need.

Granting access to email, webcasts, internal platforms and other technology where content can be readily accessed from the start is also crucial to onboarding remote employees successfully, and it communicates to these workers that they’re a priority.

Still looking for the ideal job candidate? See our tips for how to hire remote workers.

2. Help remote staff feel connected

Virtual onboarding should begin with human resources or key team leaders covering the company culture, values, mission, organizational chart, and products and services. With the stage set, it’s time to discuss workplace policies, including the code of conduct and administrative details, ranging from holidays observed to your firm’s expectations about daily or weekly work schedules.

Workers feel a sense of purpose and job satisfaction when they understand how their specific role supports a company’s overall mission. So, during the onboarding process, be sure to discuss how a remote team member’s contributions fit into that “big picture.”

3. Establish realistic responsibilities

Since you won’t be working with remote employees face-to-face, you’ll need to take other measures to help make sure they don’t succumb to burnout and chronic stress.

The 24/7 possibility of online work, as many have come to learn, can be a blessing and a curse: It’s nice to avoid the morning commute and have the option of a flexible work schedule, but it’s also easy to just keep working when you’re essentially living in the office.

Help remote team members develop routines and realistic schedules that work for both of you. When they know what’s expected, they’ll be more inclined to give themselves room to recharge. In the weeks after onboarding, check in with them frequently and ask how they’re feeling about the job and their work-life balance.

If you’re onboarding remote employees for a permanent off-site workforce, learn about the advantages of hiring a chief remote work officer.

4. Encourage a supportive team culture

Connecting the new remote worker with their team members early on is a critical piece of an onboarding program. A virtual team meeting during the first week can give them insight into how the organization operates. Keeping a weekly or biweekly team meeting on the calendar for project updates and brainstorming problem-solving ideas will help build relationships and staff cohesion.

Consider, too, a virtual lunch hour with the entire team soon after onboarding. The exchange might alleviate some stress for an employee still settling into their role and, in the process, demonstrate a supportive company culture.

If an organization consists of multiple departments, it’s beneficial for a new hire to meet other colleagues they might be working with. This can help them form new relationships across the enterprise, share a sense of belonging in the workplace, and feel free to voice their opinions and share ideas in forums with a large number of participants.

Read this helpful onboarding checklist for remote employees.

5. Provide a mentor

Given the isolation of off-site work, managers have an expanded responsibility to keep the lines of communication open and create opportunities for questions and feedback. Also, consider arranging a mentoring relationship for the remote employee. Mentoring is a great way for new hires to get a better feel for the company’s culture. Mentors can serve as guides and sounding boards for remote workers as they ramp up with their new jobs.

6. Don’t let your message fade

Successfully onboarding remote employees isn’t a one- or even two-day formality. The company values and best practices you stress during the new hire’s introduction should come through loud and clear month after month — through your actions and your internal communications, such as employee publications and your company intranet.

In ongoing training activities, continue to make it plain that values such as respect for colleagues, commitment to quality service, and doing what’s right rather than what’s easy or convenient aren’t just first-day lip service but integral to the entire company’s philosophy of doing business.

Now that you know the best practices for onboarding remote employees, read our post on managing a remote team.

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