Flexible work environments have become the norm, with many employees working from home for at least part of the week. Some companies decided to go 100% remote after their experiences with the pandemic illuminated the productivity benefits. Regardless of where employees work, they all need equal access to company resources to succeed—beginning with the onboarding process.

A lackluster onboarding experience can have far-reaching ramifications that affect employees’ productivity and ability to thrive. Successful onboarding for remote employees goes far beyond logistical concerns, such as providing new employees with laptops. Companies should consider the following steps when establishing remote onboarding procedures:

Provide Employees with Tech and Tools Before Their First Day

Nothing stymies onboarding efforts faster than missing or insufficient equipment and technology. Employers need to ensure that new remote staff members have all the tools they need before their first day on the job. For example, supplying a company laptop may seem sufficient to get started. However, the onboarding process can screech to a halt if new employees can’t access the company network because of firewall and security settings. The same problem arises if virtual employees don’t have the necessary software installed to perform their work. While these issues aren’t insurmountable, they create friction and delay the onboarding process. Fully equipping employees before they start onboarding facilitates a much smoother and more positive experience.

Establish Several Connections to Build Relationships

New employees often have a mentor or guide to help them get a feel for their work—someone other than their manager. Establishing this liaison is even more important in a virtual environment because new hires don’t have coworkers nearby to ask questions as they arise. The lack of spontaneous conversations in a virtual workplace can also hinder one-on-one relationships. New hires should receive a mix of formal and informal videoconferences to meet with key team leaders and coworkers. These conversations can help employees understand their roles and foster a sense of community with their coworkers.

Set Clear Expectations

New employees need to know what success looks like for their roles within the organization. Providing a clear set of responsibilities is essential, particularly in the context of the company’s goals. Employees who understand how their contributions fit into the bigger picture can align their work with the company’s objectives. Virtual employees should also receive specific guidelines regarding the code of conduct, etiquette for virtual meetings (e.g., dress codes, degrees of formality, etc.), work hours, and internal messaging. Many businesses overlook these company norms as in-office employees often learn these things organically. However, such ambiguity can lead to stressful or embarrassing interactions for virtual employees.

Explain the Company Culture

New hires can’t connect with their coworkers or jobs if they don’t understand the company’s culture. It’s not enough to know the company’s long-term success plan. Virtual onboarding should encompass the company’s mission, history, values, and customs. New employees need to firmly grasp not just the work but how the work gets done and why it matters to the company leadership.

Effective onboarding boosts new employees’ confidence in their roles and can cut their time to productivity in half. However, onboarding should not culminate after a week of training. Providing virtual employees with consistent communication and professional development opportunities is essential for a business to succeed. Contact Windermere Insurance Group to learn more ways to drive job satisfaction and employee retention.