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How to Improve Teamwork: 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 dealing with onboarding remote employees, this process becomes even more important. The combination of long distances, time zones, and cultural differences – in addition to the typical challenges with new starts – means companies are unsure of how to onboard remote employees, bridge the culture gap, and make them feel welcomed and appreciated.

As the experts in building offshore teams, we’d like to think that we’ve mastered this process. This post will share a few tips and tricks which can be used to improve onboarding.

We’ll also explore the significant impact that successful onboarding has on collaboration, employee experience, and productivity.

“Onboarding” starts way before the work does

The most effective onboarding processes, kick 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.

So what can companies do?

Schedule weekly catch-up calls – even dropping regular emails – to see if there’s anything the new hire needs. Simply being a presence goes a long way to demonstrating investment in new employees. Some companies send small care packages – flowers, some branded goodies, 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.

Cultivating effective teamwork and collaboration

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. (Unless, of course, that doesn’t tie in with your ethos!)

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.

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So what should companies do to improve teamwork?

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

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. Basically help new employees appreciate who’s who, so they don’t go waking sleeping dragons by mistake!

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, a staggering 54% of employees said that they’ve experienced a mishap in their new job. 15% didn’t get introduced to their co-workers, 22% didn’t have the necessary supplies ready for them and 14% didn’t even get a tour of the office. Yet 92% of HR managers questioned in the exact same survey felt that their onboarding process was effective! The full result of the survey in terms of the problems that new hires faced can be seen below.

On Boarding Survey

Fine-tune roles and responsibilities of your remote employees

It’s a pretty obvious one, but the new employee’s 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.

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!

Here’s a super-quick rundown of a few ways to keep your newly-onboarded employees on-side.

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.

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 in a foreign land, helping establish that “A-team”. A team that believes in teamwork and collaboration.

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

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