Editor notes: This blog article has been updated on March 13, 2023
In the post-pandemic job market, remote work has emerged as a vital tool to attract and retain top talent. Remote work is no longer just a trend, but a necessity. Companies need to adapt to the new working landscape, and offering a remote work option can be a deciding factor for potential employees.
As businesses shift towards remote work, onboarding processes must evolve to cater to this new working style. To ensure a seamless transition, it's crucial to have a targeted approach towards remote onboarding.
Onboarding for remote employees requires streamlined communications, clear expectation management, and an emotional core supported by the right digital infrastructure.
This article provides an introduction to remote onboarding, discussing various remote work models and why they're here to stay. We'll also delve into the differences between remote onboarding and traditional new hire processes and provide practical advice for the successful onboarding of remote employees.
Flexible working arrangements have become increasingly popular, with remote work emerging as a leading option for employees seeking greater work-life balance. This flexible working model allows employees to work some or all of their time from home or another non-traditional workspace.
There are several types of remote work arrangements, each with distinct advantages and drawbacks for both employers and employees.
Below are the five main types of remote work models:
The office-first remote work model allows employees to spend most of their time in the office while providing the option to work remotely a few days each month. Although it is easy to implement, it may not offer the flexibility that employees are seeking.
The remote-first model is the opposite of the office-first model, where employees work remotely most of the time and visit a physical office only occasionally. This model offers significant flexibility for team members, but without the right communication tools and technology, it may lead to low employee engagement.
The remote-only model involves employees working exclusively from home or another non-traditional workspace. This model is suitable for organizations that work with internationally-based employees or those without affordable office space. While it works well for some employees, without proper support, it may not be sustainable.
The fixed remote work model requires the employer to set fixed in-office days for employees, often scheduling entire teams to be in the office together on specific days. This model provides more structure in a remote working setup but limits employees' freedom to choose the days that work best for them.
The flexible remote work model provides employees with full control over when and how they divide their time between remote and office work. This model is the most attractive to potential employees, but it may be challenging to implement in larger organizations. Despite the initial investment, it can be worth it in the long run.
Remote working models have wide-ranging benefits for both employees and employers that make it likely they’re here for the long haul:
Offering a remote working set-up will help organizations secure top talent with 83% of workers saying they would be more likely to apply for a position if it offered a flexible way of working.
The right remote working model will help organizations retain their hard-won talent. According to a recent ADP research report, 64% of surveyed employees would consider looking for a new job if they were required to return to the office full time.
Mental health benefits
The right remote working environment appears to positively affect the psychological health of employees with a recent Salesforce survey finding that 59% of workers felt a remote work model contributed positively to their psychological well-being.
Reduced work-related expenses
Remote work can help reduce work-related expenses for employees. From pricey lunches to work wardrobes and transport costs, employees could expect to save thousands of euros by working from home part-time.
A standard onboarding process assumes your new hire will be physically present for most (if not all) key milestone moments. Traditionally, good onboarding blends digital communications with in-person touchpoints to create a seamless experience that helps the new hire integrate with ease.
If you choose to let your employees work remotely, you’re likely going to need to onboard those employees remotely, at least in some capacity.
Luckily, this doesn’t mean we need to reinvent the wheel, it simply means HR needs to double down on certain activities to ensure new hires feel calm, confident and connected.
The biggest difference between traditional onboarding and remote-friendly onboarding is your digital infrastructure. In a traditional onboarding process, a bespoke digital tool to manage your process from start to finish is highly recommended, but many (especially smaller) organizations do without.
In a remote work environment, the right digital tool is essential to the success of your onboarding process - without it, your HR team will be up to their ears replying to emails and calls from new hires trying to navigate their new workspace.
Successful onboarding in a remote environment hangs on some key best practices that aim to establish strong lines of communication, set clear expectations, and support new hires on an emotional level.
#1 Spotlight mental health support
Although research has shown that remote working models can improve employee mental health, there is also evidence showing that without the right support, starting a new job remotely can negatively impact an employee's frame of mind.
Shining a light on good support resources and normalizing talking about mental health is a great way to support your newest hire to ensure they have the tools they need to address issues themselves or reach out for help if they need it.
#2 Be strategic with in-office time
When you’re putting together your new remote employee's onboarding schedule, think about when it is most valuable to have them in-office.
Digital training and role exploration are easily done from the comfort of your own home, whereas coffee catch-ups, presentations, and welcome celebrations are much more fun IRL.
#3 Determine their working preferences in the Preboarding phase
Undoubtedly your organization's remote work set-up was discussed in the recruitment process. Now that your new employee has signed on the dotted line, it’s time to find out exactly how they like to work within your chosen remote working model.
Send a short survey to your new hire before they land on day 1 to find out their remote working preferences and share your organization's formal policy on remote working, to ensure everyone’s expectations are aligned.
#4 Centralize resources digitally
When you’re in the office, it’s easy to turn to your colleague for answers. Whether you’re looking for contact details, a particular document, or an answer to your latest burning question, help is only a half meter away. As a new hire onboarding remotely, barriers to information can severely impact your integration process.
To combat this, it’s important to centralize need-to-know company resources in one location - whether that’s a bespoke onboarding tool or your company intranet.
Not only will this give remote employees access to everything they need to do their job, but it will also save time for HR who won’t have to spend every waking moment responding to emails asking ‘where can I find my payroll login?’.
#5 Regularly gauge how onboardees are feeling in their new role
When an employee is in the office regularly, their colleagues, managers, and even HR can gauge their emotional state and respond in real-time with the right support. In a remote setting, this is much more difficult, so it is important to regularly reach out and find out how an employee is feeling, especially in the onboarding phase.
A regular anonymous survey that allows new hires to rate their experience and emotional well-being is a great way to ensure that you’re providing the right support.
Onboarding for remote employees can be a challenge, but with the right digital infrastructure, the task is a lot more manageable.
If you’d like to know how Talmundo supports more than 100 clients globally with their digital onboarding, book a call with one of our friendly team members and we’ll show you the goods!
Our digital onboarding software balances experience and process to deliver an engaging new hire experience to remember. Want to see how we do it? Book a no-obligation 15-minute call today with one of our team.