Remote employees are a staple in startups. Hiring remotely allows entrepreneurs to dip into deeper talent pools, and are generally more affordable as remote workers require fewer direct benefits. In fact, online job searches for remote jobs jumped 460% in the two years between June 2019 and June 2021, according to a study by Glassdoor

However, what many entrepreneurs forget is because they are remote employees, they require a different method of onboarding. Traditional onboarding does not work, as there is no physical presence to rely on. Fortunately for you, there are ways to make onboarding work, even if you may never meet your new employee in person. Here are 7 tips you can use to ensure that their first day is as smooth as possible:

1. Make a To-Do List 

A lot goes into onboarding a new employee, and you cannot afford to miss a single item. The more prepared an employee is, the sooner they will reach their full potential at your small business. Making a to-do list or a checklist ensures that nothing slips through the cracks. Sit down and think about what you want your new employees to know and what they need to do, and then list those items down.

2. Welcome Them Eagerly 

Your new employees, given a bad first day, can elect to change their minds. If they can, they may vacate the position immediately. If they cannot, they will immediately leave the moment their contract ends, increasing your small business’s turnover rate. Minimize the odds of that happening by giving your new hires as warm a welcome as possible. Let them know that you appreciate their presence, and give them an idea of what to expect in the onboarding stage. The more information they get, the less doubt they are likely to have.

3. Share Policies for Remote Employees  

Remote workers are fundamentally different from traditional office workers, and your policies should reflect that. Some rules are unique to remote workers, and your team should know those rules as soon as possible. If you do not have policies specifically for remote employees, write one up, and ensure all relevant personnel receives a copy as soon as possible.

4. Give Remote Workers a Buddy 

No matter how great your onboarding program is, taking on a new job alone can be stressful. They may have questions not covered by the program, or may realize some confusion a few hours into a task. That is why it is critical to assign new hires a buddy, someone they can contact online who is available and capable of answering their questions. At the start, that buddy will likely be you, but as the startup grows, you can start assigning more experienced employees to help new employees along.

5. Ensure They are Properly Equipped 

If you are lucky, your employees will have the equipment necessary to fulfill their duties. Unfortunately, that may not be the case for more specialized work, or if you have proprietary tools. You need to make sure that your new hire is properly equipped either by giving them access to the right software, or giving them a hardware budget. If you find your budget lacking, ensure you hire employees that have the requisite equipment already.

6. Give Them a Great First Day 

One of the most important days for new employees is their first day. The quality of that day can color the rest of their experience, and determine how quickly they perform at their best. How you do that is up to you, but generally you want to make them as comfortable as possible. Set aside some time to socialize at the start to get to know them. If they have a team, give them the opportunity to interact with them. Then give them a light first day, something to get their feet wet. Ideally, you can give them a task that will acquaint them with your startup’s systems and practices. If you can do something a little extra, like having food delivered to them, don’t hesitate. Every little bit helps.

7. Get Feedback 

The first employee you onboard will likely not be the last. That is why you need to get feedback from every employee you hire. You need to know what parts of the onboarding process worked and what parts need work. That way, you can further refine the process and ensure that future employees receive a better experience.

Remote employees can be powerful and can lead your startup to growth and success. However, ensuring they get off on the right foot can be tricky. You need to respect the differences that come with them, and work with those differences. The more work you put into their onboarding, the sooner remote employees can give you the productivity and output you need as an entrepreneur.


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