The initial success and long-term retention of a new hire relies heavily on proper onboarding.  In fact, 90% of new hires make their decision to stay or leave a company within the first 6 months.

The first impression is pretty important.  

Managers need to take the time to properly onboard in-office employees by going through necessary documents, giving office tours, and introducing the person to other members of the team. This is pretty standard with new employees who will be working in the office, however the process becomes complicated with a distributed team.

What do you do when the person you’re onboarding is remote?

First, see if onboarding in person is possible.  Do time and resources allow the new hire to spend their first week of work in the office? This will give them the opportunity to meet the team in person, get a feel for the culture, and get hands-on training. As a manager, it gives you the opportunity to answer questions and address any concerns face-to-face.

If this is not possible, use video-conferencing (here’s why) as an alternative.  Host a one-on-one meeting to discuss the company mission, values, and work guidelines. You might even find value in reviewing the company handbook (if you have one) with the new employee, so questions can be addressed early on. Be sure to guide the new hire through their job description and duties – it’s crucial to set clear expectations right away.

Also, it’s likely you’ll use video calls to communicate going forward, so it’s not a bad idea to test the waters early on.

1. Everything you provide to in-office employees should be extended to remote employees in one way or another. Make sure the new remote hire has a comfortable place to work, the equipment needed (desk, computer, phone, etc.), and a sufficient wireless connection. Equipment the company provides should arrive on or before the employee’s start date – never late. It’s also crucial that all remote employees have access to important documents should they need them.

2. Be sure that remote employees meet the full team. It’s a common practice to walk a new hire around the office to meet the team. It's an extremely important step in onboarding, as the employee is able to learn names, positions, and get a feel for those they’ll be working with closely. Find a way to mirror this experience for new remote hires:

  • If you have a small team, gather everyone for a quick video call. Don’t put too much pressure on the new employee, but instead have the team introduce themselves, explain their positions in the company, and talk to how they’ll likely work with the new hire moving forward.
  • If you work on a large distributed team, host a video conference with the team members the new hire will be working with most. To introduce the employee to the entire department, send out an email introduction with a photo, email, and other contact info.

3. Invest in professional development from the start. The  State of Remote Work Report found that remote employees report having 25% fewer growth conversations than the average employee. That’s terrible! Your new hire might even question whether his or her career growth could be stunted due to being remote. Discuss individual learning and development goals early on to develop an understanding of how they hope to grow. Let them know that you consider all employeesregardless of locationfor growth opportunities as they arise. Continuously encourage new, relevant opportunities to remote employees to help them thrive.

Remember that a successful onboarding experience is just as important to the company as it is to new employees. Design a process that works for your entire team, not just on site employees – that way, you fully invest in each member and will have the opportunity to make the most of each new hire.

Download the leadership guide: How to Manage Remote Employees