With the shift to hybrid work and an increase in hiring, organizations are forced to wrestle with onboarding remote employees effectively. Some of the traditional ways to onboard employees remain relevant, while new considerations need attention in order to successfully onboard remote employees. 

What’s the same

When introducing new employees to your organization, it remains important that they feel equipped, connected, and confident to start their new position. Some of the standard onboarding flow your company uses still works as long as they meet these needs. Included in this flow might be things like:

  • Providing an understanding of organizational identity
  • Introducing company mission
  • Gifting company swag – t-shirts, mugs, etc
  • Equipping with technology
  • Meeting with teammates or high performers in the organization

Each of these components is important to successfully onboarding remote employees, but the primary difference comes in understanding the mindset and psychological process a new employee might have joining a remote team.  

What’s different

Above all, successfully onboarding remote employees takes into account that a new team member has different fears and concerns joining a new organization. These include feeling isolated, struggling with imposter syndrome, and experiencing overwhelm. Humu People Scientist Leslie Caputo explains that in a traditional workplace transition, people have time to make the physical transition to a new place of employment. In a remote environment, however, people are working for one company on Friday and another on Monday, but may physically remain in the same home office location. Without this environmental shift, new employees have a hard time making the mental leap needed to transition well. 

Additionally, employees who are forced to build their reputation in a remote environment can struggle with imposter syndrome, lack of confidence and general isolation without direct contact and networking opportunities that physical proximity creates. Successfully onboarding remote employees means recognizing this different mindset and obstacles and creating intentional opportunities to address them. 

What to do 

Humu suggests three shifts to successfully onboarding remote employees. 

  1. Add more socialization opportunities into onboarding. In one study, a company that focused on building individual identity for new hires had great success and a 33% increase in retention in the first six-months of hire. They included a problem-solving exercise where new employees discussed what their strengths were and then talked about how they might bring those strengths into their new roles. New employees need to know how they contribute to the team and where they fit in the company.   
  2. Prioritize regular check-in’s. Successfully onboarding remote employees doesn’t stop with the initial orientation. Build regular 30-60-90 day check-in’s into the new hire experience. Humu suggests asking employees, “Do you have everything you need to be successful?” Ask yourself if you see them connecting the dots to the larger strategy, whether they are building relationships with people on other teams, and identify how you can facilitate that. 
  3. Encourage team building. Be intentional about creating time for teams to problem-solve together. Debrief the experience and talk about the unique strengths each person contributed. Providing strengths-based feedback and creating a strengths-based workplace can help people better understand what they can expect from others in the future and what skills to lean into. For new hires, they also build confidence in their own contribution and experience more happiness at work

Successfully onboarding remote employees means giving greater attention to the mindset and psychological needs of new hires. It may not require an overhaul of your existing process but rather an enhancement of what you’re already doing.