I think we can all agree that 2020 was a challenging year. COVID-19 introduced a slew of lifestyle changes that have affected us both physically and emotionally. But perhaps the greatest change has been the seismic shift in the global workforce. Within a matter of months, remote work went from a rarity to the norm, leaving many employers and employees to figure it out as they went along.
Remote Onboarding in a New World
While working remotely has been embraced by many, it has not been without its challenges. Companies had to reevaluate their systems and processes in record time, some even having to restructure their entire organization to accommodate remote working.
Some of the uncertainty and fear of having employees work from home have been alleviated as employees from all industries across the world rose to the occasion, proving that humans are nothing if not resilient. Have there been bumps in the road? For sure. Can we keep this up long-term? Absolutely, with the right systems in place.
Implementing work-from-home protocols with current employees within an organization is challenging enough, but hiring new employees for a fully remote team is even more demanding.
The Transition Process
At Tiggee LLC, we transitioned 100% of our global and local in-office staff for both DNS Made Easy and Constellix to a fully remote team within 24 hours. Luckily, we had telecommuting policies and procedures in place beforehand, as some of our employees worked remotely a few days a week already. The entire team stepped up and handled the adjustment to full-time remote work gracefully and pulled together to overcome obstacles.
Being in the tech industry, and more specifically, a DNS management company, we were fortunate enough to have plenty of help on-hand for the technical issues that arose during the transition period. But in the midst of going fully remote, Tiggee also brought on an entirely new department, comprised of talent located across the United States and abroad. Onboarding fully online was a new thing for us. But as the saying goes, the show must go on.
Hiring new employees can be daunting in the best of circumstances, but when the entire process is done virtually, it’s a whole different animal. Here are a few tips that have helped us with onboarding new, remote employees and integrating them within the company successfully.
Tips for Interviewing Remotely
The interview process is one of the most important steps in the entire hiring process. With employees and potential candidates all working from separate locations and on different systems with varying internet speeds, it can be a recipe for disaster if you don’t plan appropriately.
- Do a test run or mock interview with all the individuals that will be attending the interviews. This will help make sure that, at least from your organization’s side, you’ll be able to tweak any video and sound issues in advance.
- Be sure to let interviewees know what platform the interview will take place on, and whether it is audio-only or video. This will help the candidate prepare accordingly. This can also help gain insight into a candidate’s tech-savviness—or lack thereof—which is an important quality for a remote worker to possess.
- Dress the part. This is an early chance to convey a bit of your company culture to potential employees. If you desire a corporate environment in a virtual environment, make sure your team is dressed appropriately. If you’re more casual, go for a more business casual look. Whatever you do, skip the pajamas and comb your hair.
- Along with questions about the role, be sure to ask questions related to technology. What is their home working environment like? What is their experience with video and audio chats? This will help give you an idea of how they’ll be able to handle the position remotely.
When adding a new remote employee to your company, it’s especially important to make them feel a part of the team as quickly as possible. A common issue with remote employees is feelings of isolation. This can be helped with constant and clear communication.
- Do the paperwork. If at all possible, have your new hire submit all necessary documentation, such as tax-related forms and insurance, etc. before a new employee’s start date. If you have an employee handbook (which you should), be sure the employee has it in advance and confirms receipt. Extenuating circumstances aside, for a fully remote position, there’s no excuse not to have all of this taken care of in advance. It will also let the employee start working right away, with one less thing to worry about.
- Introduce the new employee to the entire team. If you can do individual or small group video introductions, even better. But at the very least, send out a company-wide notification introducing the new employee and encourage everyone to be welcoming.
- A buddy system. Everyone is different. Some people are more outgoing than others or need a little help coming out of their shells. Assigning a “buddy” or asking a teammate to check in on the new employee throughout the day can go a long way in making them feel more comfortable.
Remember: Many people will be too afraid to speak up when they first start a position and will be worried about stepping on toes or looking “foolish.” Others will come across as overly aggressive in an attempt to fit in and start showing value. Opening up a regular line of communication with a point person can help overcome both of these situations.
- Rules, procedures, and benefits. With a remote team, transparency is crucial for morale. Expectations should be clearly outlined and any rules or company benefits should be made crystal clear.
Note: New employees know nothing beyond their interview or communication they’ve had after they were hired. It’s the employer’s job to make sure they do. Starting a new job is exciting, but it’s also challenging. Worrying about who to talk to about what and how things work within the company shouldn’t be a mystery. Establishing a clear and open line of communication can make all the difference in the success of a new remote employee.
Communication and Task Management
When it comes to onboarding and managing a successful remote team, good communication is imperative. You may have a brilliant group of employees, but they can’t read minds. This goes for task assignment, expectations, and clarity of what each employee’s role entails—as well as what it doesn’t. In fact, poor communication with any of these things could cause a new hire to leave a company prematurely.
- Be clear and upfront. While it’s natural for most roles to evolve within a company over time, it’s best practice to ensure that a new hire’s tasks closely align with the job description they applied for. During the interview process, be sure to outline responsibilities in a clear and concise manner, and then do so again within their job offer. And while it may seem like overkill, reiterating their duties and your expectations on their start-date will not only help the new employee feel more confident in their new position, but also help them better contribute to the team without fear of offending another teammate.
- Task management. Most employees enjoy having flexibility and/or the ability to structure their day, but this is difficult for new employees to do. For at least the first few days, try to have a structured plan for your new hire to follow, so they don’t feel like they are floating in the wind. This will also instill more confidence in the company, which is a vital aspect of keeping your new employees around.
- Task management tools. There are many tools that companies can use to help their employees stay on top of the projects and tasks, such as Asana, Monday.com (the platform we use for Editorial and Marketing projects at Tiggee), or ClickUp. There are plenty of premium and free management tools to choose from, and these platforms help keep employees organized and on track with deadlines, and also gives a clear picture of project statuses for your entire organization. For new employees, these tools can be especially helpful, as it gives them a place to monitor their progress and to see what others in the company are working on.
- Collaborative tools. Use your company’s collaborative tools, such as Slack, and set up multiple channels that employees can post to and interact with together. For example, Tiggee has many channels, from a special channel for Human Resource/company related topics to a “random” channel where employees can share their personal thoughts. These lines of communication not only help boost team morale, but also help teammates get to know each other better.
Tip: Have a backup method of communication in place in case of outages. With more and more transactions occurring online, it’s critical to have processes in place that keep communication open within your organization. For instance, Slack started 2021 with an outage, leaving many companies without a means of communication. We use Slack at Tiggee, but seamlessly moved to Google Chat without ever missing a beat, as we already used Google Suite for many day-to-day operations. Without the ability to incorporate this, company-wide collaboration would have suffered. The move to Google Chat was temporary, but it helped keep things moving along within our organization.
While there’s a lot more to onboarding remote employees, these tips can help ensure you make a solid choice for your new hire and will help your new employee feel like a welcome addition to the team. Having a strong remote onboarding process in place is no longer an option, it’s a necessity. More likely than not, the way many of us work has changed forever.