You’ve been hired, or you’ve made a new hire. What’s next for onboarding a new remote employee?
1. Don’t underestimate a comprehensive employee handbook.
A flexible workplace setup is liberating, but that doesn’t mean new people joining the team are equipped with all the information they need from the get-go.
At Edoc, we know how joining a virtual team can involve more intentional onboarding and communication than a traditional setup may have. We also know how vital those first few weeks are for a team member’s success and confidence.
Marissa Epstein, a UX Designer at Lullabot, a distributed interactive strategy,design and development company, says a handbook was significant in helping her navigate the first days on a brand new team. She also says it further articulated the culture and values at Lullabot.
“It was a great way to answer some questions I would have never asked,” she says.
It also included some of the common questions and/or concerns that an employee has when they join a new company. “Little things that our handbook very clearly outlined—such as benefits or how our time off would work—that was very helpful,” she explains.
The process also included acknowledgement that everything may just be a bit overwhelming for a newcomer. The Lullabot handbookalso helped her know what Lullabot was expecting of her during that first initial week.
“One of the best parts of the handbook is the support it provided. It was written in a sympathetic tone, and it was a huge reference point.”
From the handbook, Marissa decided to make an actionable list, making sure she could manage and stay organized within her new working structure.
2. Existing team members are the ones who can really help newcomers feel embedded.
Deliberately reaching out to new workers who’ve joined the team is crucial in making someone feel welcomed, and letting them know you are there to support them along the way.
Since a distributed team doesn’t have the same physical presence, having a one-on-one Google Hangout or a quick GoToMeeting will help you start to build a relationship with your colleagues.
When Marissa joined Lullabot, the team reached out to her via Yammer and also individually.
“So many people commented and reached out on Yammer to me. I didn’t know everyone’s name, but people reached out individually, too.” She also noticed right away that weekly team calls were another way for people to get to know one another on a more personal basis.
Each person on the team typically speaks for about 3 minutes about what they are doing that week. The team will also share what they are doing over the weekend, so people can really start to make connections with one another.
“Someone might ping me after I speak, to continue those little conversations so we can know one another better,” she says. Marissa also recognizes that reaching out to coworkers goes both ways, saying she recognized that the new person on the team should also take initiative and reach out to others as well.
“My number one recommendation is to reach out,” she explains.
Just like with a traditional office setup, be aware that you’re only seeing a slice of everyone’s interactions each day. “It’s important to remember how many conversations are happening in private messages or Hangouts that you’re just not seeing. Remember to reach out and make these connections whenever you need them.”
READ MORE:“The Team Company Wins”
Kim Sykes is a marketer and content creator at Edoc Service, Inc., a total virtual company