Innovative Ways to Onboard and Connect Remote Employees
The pandemic forced organizations to adapt to a constantly changing environment. With each month that passed, many short-term solutions transitioned to more permanent operational practices, such as working remotely. If your organization is considering extending remote work opportunities, it’s time to reexamine your processes, especially as you bring new talent on board.
As many organizations are tackling remote onboarding for the first time, we decided to share advice from an HR leader, Christina Cameron, who has experience supporting a remote workforce at North Carolina Virtual Academy. As the HR and Finance Office Administrator of an online public charter school for grades K-12, Christina is accustomed to working in a rapidly-growing organization that provides remote opportunities for its students and educators. With a deep understanding of this virtual landscape, Christina shared tips for remaining organized and helping new hires feel connected to your organization.
Delivering information and supplies to remote employees can present unique challenges. Start by outlining your current onboarding process to uncover whether it’s possible to fully onboard a new employee electronically or if sending materials via mail is necessary. Christina warned that employees might fail to read everything you send. With this in mind, consider the amount of information you send at one time to avoid overwhelming new hires. Thoughtfully organizing and distributing onboarding material can encourage employees to take the necessary time to review and prepare for their new role.
When onboarding employees, it’s inevitable that there is a lot of information to share. Avoid crafting a lengthy email that employees may skim or misplace in their inbox. To relay a large amount of information or when sending multiple documents digitally, Christina recommends compiling information into a single document with a table of contents. This streamlined format helps employees digest the information while also making it more accessible to reference or review in the future. At the end of this onboarding document she also includes links to the platforms employees need to familiarize themselves with, keeping all information organized and readily available in one place. Finally, Christina uses Built to track and store submitted documents to quickly identify what’s missing when looking at an employee’s profile.
Even with years of experience in remote operations, North Carolina Virtual Academy is always striving to help new employees feel better connected to their organization. Christina shared that they have established a mentoring program to help new hires through the onboarding process and familiarize employees with their school. Regardless of your industry, consider including experienced employees in the onboarding workflow to serve as mentors. She also suggests holding open office hours to provide an additional space to connect and share information. Working remotely may feel isolating to some employees, but providing opportunities for human connection will help new hires feel supported as they tackle any uncertainty.
Establish Ongoing Support
Remember that onboarding doesn’t stop after all documents are signed and training is complete. If your organization is transitioning to remote onboarding, or just looking to streamline your current processes, it’s important to develop innovative ways to help employees feel connected to your team and the organization’s mission. While you should take time to reexamine your current processes and identify opportunities to organize the distribution of new employee documentation, retaining employees requires more than logistical efficiency. Consider developing a multistage process that ensures that new talent is supported even months after initial onboarding is complete.
A special thanks to Christina Cameron of North Carolina Virtual Academy for her contribution to this article. Visit https://ncva.k12.com/ to learn more about their virtual education opportunities.