This article will cover best practices to keep front and center during the hiring process and when it comes to onboarding remote employees.

One of the most controversial topics our clients were known to ever discuss: “To allow employees the ability to work from home.” And if allowed, what policies and best practices are followed. Well, now many of us do not have an option and have been forced to put these practices together. Paying attention to our own internal team at Lucas James Talent Partners, combined with direct discussions with our clients, the most discussed topic around remote hiring has been EXPECTATIONS. At Lucas James, we have had the fortunate ability to work remotely since the inception of our firm. It was actually one of the perks most valuable to our Founder, team members, and our clients.

You may have found yourself in an HR or Talent Management seat during an explosive growth phase of your company. You may have found yourself in the same seat during a recessionary phase. Whatever the situation, many companies have had to enforce and implement remote employee policies. These include processes around interviewing, hiring, training, development, and, most importantly, ONBOARDING. And now, there is an even bigger push to provide a process for onboarding remote employees and all new hires.

The one area that we will most likely always be improving and making tweaks to will be with onboarding. The documents and processes you use should always stay fluid. You can never have a too-perfect onboarding process. Teams should always be looking at new creative ways of fulfilling this important step to building your achievable culture and organization.

A Guide to Onboarding Remote Employees

1. Let’s get back to that one word. Expectations.

You cannot communicate or be transparent enough during these times. Make sure to set clear, decisive tasks that need to be accomplished throughout the onboarding process. Make sure employees know how, when, and with what methods they should be communicating. Start with a plan of action items checklist and make sure the employees understand when these are due, how they are to be completed, and what next steps will be. Keep in close contact during this time as well as their first few days, which will hopefully then become weeks, then years. The chance of a successful hire and most guaranteed retention will be highly based on the success of onboarding remote employees correctly.

2. Along the same lines of setting expectations comes in establishing KPIs and SOPs.

A simple way to do this is by establishing “what a typical day looks like” for each particular role. KPIs must be set to access an employee’s productivity and goal achievements as well as to measure success. Not everyone requires structure, but everyone will benefit in the long run by understanding key operating procedures and the end goal. This will be most important in making each and every new employee as successful as possible, allowing them to become key success players within your organization.

3. Provide sophisticated tools such as video tutorials to show true examples of process workflows.

Have manuals that show the operations and logistical breakdown within the company. Have someone in charge of this entire process if handling multiple new additions to the team, a designated individual who manages everything between an offer letter and 1-month check-ins. This would include weekly discussions with the new-hire regarding their experiences, what has gone well, what could be better defined or in place, etc.

4. Collaboration between HR and IT for online training is essential.

Make sure HR and IT are communicating, offering the best technology for staff to be productive without system and technical issues that will distract from the productivity which working remotely can provide. Collaboration between these two groups is so important and even more so with remote environments. Security, devices and equipment, system access, firewalls, passwords, ease of access…all very important to consider for the onboarding process to be as flawless as possible. Having the correct technology in place for new employees to fulfill their roles is very important, and to have this available before their start date.

5. Start small as to not overwhelm.

You never want someone to feel as if they are drowning in new hire paperwork. You want them to feel welcome by meeting multiple people, even if via video, including upper management, not only the individuals they will be reporting to. Allow them to build multiple relationships. Consider every new hire having a mentor in the company. Ensure that their team is welcoming the new hire, being accepting of them, and doing whatever it takes to make them feel comforted and at home. From the comfort of their own home!

At Lucas James Talent Partners, we utilize Cliq as a chat platform that provides instantaneous communication and answers to questions from our teams and management. This prevents delays in answers/solutions for clients as well as many miscommunications internally, which can lead to decreased productivity or delayed learning for new hires.

6. Ask for their input, have people own, and lead specific projects.

Give them milestones and ownership of certain tasks as well as have them teach others. The best way to continue learning is by teaching others. This will also help with culture creation. Be clear about culture, objectives, mission, and environment as well as allow for exposure to other groups and management. Always ask for feedback regarding the onboarding process and be open to making changes that will allow for more cohesive and timely processes.

7. Last but not least…learn to love video calls and conferencing.

OK, you may never love them, but this is truly the single best way to build and develop internal trust and relationships between both team members and management. This goes for cohesive onboarding as well as cohesive workplaces in general. It is also the only want to reinvent the in-person, face-to-face contact most of us are used to. Phone calls will only take you so far and can become even more mundane than video communications. Do not always feel like you need to be “camera-ready”. We have had multiple calls with Founders, CEO’s, VP’s, you name a title, and we have had video calls with them in casual clothing. Long messy hair, natural no-makeup looks have taken over society. And it is all fine, so relax, turn your video on, and let the calls begin!

Repetitively sticking to these policies and going over them will allow HR to hold themselves accountable for making sure onboarding remote employees becomes smoother with every hire. Before you know it, you will have it down to where this becomes effortless, and you can focus more direct time with your team and meeting other expectations!

~ Director of Business Development, Lucas James Talent Partners