We live in a very different world of late. Remote is a common word thrown about, donning a mask is now a fashion accessory, and remote employee onboarding needs to be embraced.

When employing staff and onboarding them, an essential part of recruitment, we don’t always have the luxury of in-house engagement and physical face-to-face contact.  Employers now need to consider remote employee onboarding, and many are struggling with this process.  

A challenge, yes, but not impossible.  

Essentially, you can draw on your existing employee onboarding methodology but with a few effective tweaks.

Consider the home environment

When a remote employee has to work from their home, they may also have the added considerations of kids at home and partners also working from home. Plus, other various interruptions, such as garden services arriving at inopportune times, interruptions from home deliveries, and the like.  

These situations all need to be taken into account with an open mind from both the employer’s and employees’ sides. While employers can’t be expected to totally accommodate their staff’s remote lives, fitting in with school runs, homework times, and gym visits, there can be a conversation had so that all parties are working within a reasonably comfortable agenda based on output.  

For new employees, especially those who are not used to remote working, you can offer assistance with planning around their personal schedule.

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing can still happen but with some creativity. Most of the work is online with remote-style jobs anyway. So a video call with a shared screen can work wonders and be just as effective as in-person. Where there is a manual element to the work and is remotely managed by the new employee, the staff member or manager handling the job shadowing can still use video to show and tell.  

You may even find that remote job shadowing will be more effective than when an employee is in the office. The job shadowing time in an office often leaves the new employee with many hours of twiddling thumbs, waiting for the assisting employee or manager to come to fetch them.  

With remote job shadowing, specific times can be plotted out for online training and the hours outside of that can either be filled with a list of tasks or reading/study time.

Be sure to plan effectively here as job shadowing is an essential part of onboarding. If this doesn’t form part of your onboarding processes, sit down right now and include it.

Group Video Calls

For regular meetings, group video calls work well and serve the same purpose, if not more effective, as in-person group meetings.  It has been shown that group video calls are generally more productive with less chit-chat than before. People know that having a group video meeting without an agenda will frustrate and irritate the attendees.  

In-office group meetings also need a plan, but for most, they try to wing it.  Not ideal in any circumstance.  

Ensure you include the remote workers here as much as possible. Schedule the meetings regularly and ensure they are stick to the agenda. Allow for question and answer time within your agenda.  

Even consider keeping an open group video call going at certain times in the day. Here, all employees, who are connected in departments, keep working but are still bound by the video to simulate an in-person office environment.  

This will be much like they are in an office together.  This works well where workers are used to open-plan workspaces and where this type of arrangement is beneficial to their actual work.  They can call out to each other, and there can be a camaraderie which is good for morale.

A Go-to Buddy System

It is a good idea to pair up remote workers, where they can have that someone to go to instead of bothering their superior every two minutes. Consider pairing a more mature or rather a long-standing employee with a new employee for this to work well.

In ending, remote employee onboarding can work and work effectively. It is the planning before and during the period of onboarding that makes all the difference.

Anthony Kettle

Anthony Kettle is the co-owner of West Coast Personnel, a successful recruitment agency that has been around for going on 21 years in the Table View, Western Cape area.  Anthony specialises predominantly in the engineering and manufacturing space; however, he has a wealth of knowledge to impart on all aspects of recruitment.  He has recently published his books, The Job Seeker's Handbook and The Recruiter’s Handbook, available on Amazon as eBooks.