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A Comprehensive Guide to Onboarding Remote Employees

The onboarding process can have a dramatic effect on job performance and employee satisfaction. A study conducted by the Abardeen Group showed that organisations with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire productivity. 

When onboarding remote employees that are a part of your global team, this process becomes even more critical. The combination of logistical and cultural differences (in some cases), in addition to the typical challenges with new starts, means that companies are unsure of how to welcome new employees, bridge the culture gap, and make them feel appreciated.

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As experts in building offshore teams, we’d like to think that we’ve mastered this process. And so, we’re sharing some tried-and-tested tips which can be used to improve how businesses onboard remote employees and global teams. We’ll also explore the significant impact that this has on collaboration, employee experience, and productivity.

Onboarding starts before the work does

The most effective onboarding process kicks off the day a company rolls out its offer. The delay between a job offer and starting work can be anywhere from a few days to several months. Especially in the latter case, it’s imperative that the delay doesn’t fall into negligence.

Employee retention

So what can companies do?

Schedule weekly catch-up calls or drop regular emails to see if there’s anything the new hire needs. Simply making your presence known goes a long way in demonstrating investment in new employees. Some companies send small care packages — flowers, some branded goodies, or even a joke present to bring a smile to their face. It’s all about keeping new employees warm and feeling like they made the right choice. 

If these employees know they can reach out at any time and get a nice response, then the onboarding process is going well.

Cultivating effective teamwork and collaboration

We’ll close the blog with a few tips on boosting the recruitment and onboarding process. For now, let’s look at how onboarding remote employees actually affect teams.

Proper onboarding will always make your employees feel like part of ‘the family’ — even if you don’t phrase it that way. It helps them belong. And when people feel valued at work, they tend to be more invested in their success. The quality of output will be better than a similar employee who feels excluded, unhappy, or simply a little isolated.

Managers should also take time to describe the ethos of the company. Encourage new starts to ask questions or to put their managers off-balance. Make sure they know that being wrong is still a success. These small efforts can give your employees the confidence to strike up conversations or approach other team members about issues, or new collaborations. Particularly for offshore workers whose colleagues could be 10,000 miles away, onboarding is crucial to getting settled.

We like to assign our new hires a ‘buddy’ — someone who knows the ropes of the business, chats easily and is nice to be around. Having a ‘go-to’ person in a new work environment should help substantially reduce isolation or nerves among new employees.

Hire proficiency

So what should companies do to improve teamwork?

There are a million and one ways to conduct onboarding for remote employees that are a part of a global team. And most of them are pretty good options. Here are a few that we think are particularly important for onboarding offshore team members.

1. Walk them through the organisation structure

Offshore staff can’t just walk through the door and visit their boss’s desk, or easily wander into meetings or informal discussions. It may not be obvious, but employees learn a lot about their company from simply watching interactions between colleagues and their management.

So companies should jump on a call with new hires to explain how the company works, who’s in charge, and who they’ll be working with. Creating a back-of-envelope organisational chart or something similar could be helpful. 

2. Prepare a dedicated workspace

When building an offshore team, setting up a productive workspace is crucial. It also requires a decent amount of thought and effort, though a dedicated offshore development partner usually takes care of these details. Details like providing all the necessary software and tools, providing a computer, and any specialist equipment.

For instance, at The Scalers, we provide new hires with a welcome pack that contains their laptop, notepad, some sweet treats, and even a personalised mug. Small gestures like these can go a long way in making the employee feel valued, involved, and appreciated. Of course, less altruistically, it also helps them deliver productive work more quickly!

In a survey carried out by OfficeTeam, 54% of employees said that they’ve experienced a mishap in their new job. Meanwhile 15% didn’t get introduced to their co-workers and 22% didn’t have the necessary supplies ready for them. Yet 92% of HR managers questioned in the exact same survey felt that their onboarding process was effective! 

3. Fine-tune roles and responsibilities of your remote employees

It’s a pretty obvious one, but when onboarding remote employees, the manager should run through their job description, key responsibilities, performance review structure, and anything else of reasonable importance. Crucially, this should be a conversation — not a senior employee dictating terms. Get their opinion and use it productively.

Goals for new hires

This is also a great time to establish short-term personal and professional goals. At The Scalers, as a rule, we put a lot of focus on the first 45 days: if the new hires are happy, involved, and productive at this stage, then we can be confident they’re a great long-term match for the business.

Going Forward

Once a company has successfully onboarded new hires and got them off to a good start, the job is then about keeping them there. Remember, employees don’t need to work where they are; they should want to be there!

That’s why it’s important to check-in with them as frequently as possible, especially for the first six months. Welcome all feedback, no matter how small or trivial it may be, and ask them what they need from you and your business to be productive and efficient. Discuss personal and professional goals, recognise their ideas, and provide opportunities for learning. Encourage team projects and collaborative efforts so that the team can deliver its best work.

Scaling at Speed: Preqin Case Study

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At The Scalers, we not only help clients recruit the best talent in the industry but also guide them through the onboarding process. We’re their eyes and ears on the ground, helping them establish a team that is engaged, motivated, and efficient. 

If you have any questions about building a global development team, feel free to reach out to us using the contact form below and we’ll get back to you!

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