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How to Onboard a New Remote Team Member
Lina Yakunina
,
February 14, 2020
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Onboarding a new remote team member is hard. You have to coordinate various team members, their diaries, consider the existing workload, tasks, and ongoing projects.

The stats show that 9 out of 10 employees decide within the first six months whether they will stay at the company for the long term. 

Therefore, when you onboard a new remote team member, it’s imperative that they receive a warm, smooth, and efficient welcome. 

The Importance of Effective Onboarding for Remote Team Members

Issues with communication, collaboration, and employee-manager trust are present in all kinds of workplaces, but they are massively amplified in virtual teams. 

Fortunately, there’s a growing body of research showing how successful virtual teams address these issues. And one of the most important tactics is effective onboarding. 

It’s easy to see why. 

For a remote worker, the onboarding process is an introduction to the company. It’s about creating new relationships, establishing expectations, defining roles, and setting the tone for the company culture.

What’s more, as a virtual employee won’t interact daily or in-person with their team members, it’s a vital opportunity for them to meet relevant co-workers and learn how the company operates. 

Read on for our top tips for effectively onboarding a remote team member.

1. Be Efficient With Paperwork

First impressions count.

Make sure all of your welcome paperwork is handled efficiently. From letter offers to contracts, and any other legal documents required, send them in a timely manner. 

Ensure that all of the paperwork can be handled digitally, send contracts and forms electronically, and request electronic signatures. Answer any questions from the new team member as quickly as possible. 

2. Use Communication and Project Management Tools

Your communication during the onboarding process and how you delegate and manage initial projects or tasks set the tone for future communication and collaboration, so it’s important to get it right.

It’s even more important when your team members are distributed. Using the right tools for project management and communication is imperative as they allow you to clearly communicate and effectively manage a remote team member. 

Most remote teams rely on a stack of tools to collaborate and communicate virtually. Gmail for external emails, Slack for internal chats, Trello for project management, Zoom for video calls, and so on. 

This does work, but it can cause other problems such as attention switch (constantly bouncing between tools), disconnected data spread out across those tools, and a learning curve that will take them time to become effective.

On the other hand, your inbox, transformed into a collaboration solution, will help with onboarding remote team members, allowing everyone to work together and efficiently manage projects.

3. Consider Meeting In Person

Depending on your budget, your location, and your team members’ availability, consider meeting once in person. It’s not entirely necessary, but if you can do it, it’s a great start to a remote relationship, allowing you to build a meaningful relationship, offering belonging and inclusion.

4. Split Your Training Into Chunks

Starting at a new company is overwhelming for most people. However, for new remote team members, it’s even harder. 

Generally, a remote hire will need to undergo all the training before being able to start work. Therefore, it’s important to break down your training into the following smaller chunks, for example:

  • Company Introduction: The company story, missions, and goals 
  • Department Introduction: How each department works, how team members collaborate, common workflows, key people, key roles 
  • Tool Introduction: The tools that are required and how they are all used, login credentials, resources, and training documents 
  • Role Introduction: The role and responsibilities of the new team member, who they report to, how they update or communicate with their team, and when 
  • Project Introduction: The project(s) that the team member will be working on and their specific role 

5. Stay Connected

Don’t forget to continue relationship building well after the initial onboarding period. This should continue for weeks and months after the new team member has joined your team.

Include your remote team members in annual get-togethers (if possible), through in-person or remote team-building exercises, invites to company parties, as well as regular weekly calls, monthly reviews, and ongoing open communication.

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