Guide to Onboarding Your (New) Work From Home Employees

Hiring Remote

If your company’s new to remote work, this primer teaches you how to onboard a work from home employee (or several) to keep your business running and thriving:
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While hiring has stopped or even stalled for some companies, others are experiencing unprecedented growth during this pandemic.

But if your business is hoping to add team members, you may be wondering how to onboard new work from home employees now.

So this guide provides a rundown of everything you need to know, including workarounds for the most common challenges you may face.

And it starts with understanding why remote employees are worth your time and investment, especially during times like these.

The Top Benefits of Hiring Work From Home Employees

We took a deep dive into the pros and cons of being a remote-friendly company in a recent guide.

To recap the top benefits, hiring work from home employees lets you and your team:

Stay Productive Even During a Pandemic, Snow Storm, or Other Unforeseen Issue

To keep your team safe, you may normally close the office if a giant Nor’easter or tropical storm is slated to hit the area.

But as we saw with the recent Covid-19 pandemic, it may not be possible to close your business for several months without an end in sight.

Work from home employees, however, will keep your team productive and your business on track. 

So you can avoid spreading germs during flu season or another coronavirus outbreak without your business skipping a beat.

Keep Business Running as Usual (or Better!) Without Any Downtime

Having the flexibility to allow your team to work from home opens up a world of perks, such as higher productivity levels.

Without a long commute, most WFH employees gain one to two hours back to their days. This not only means they’ll work more dedicated hours, but they’ll also get to work earlier and without wasting time.

Speaking of that, your team may become more productive without having the occasional watercooler break or afternoon meeting interrupting their workflow.

Many work from home employees accomplish more in less time than they would in the office thanks to this ability to focus and concentrate. And that’s a huge perk.

Plus, hiring more work from home employees allows you to handle higher demands on your team without running into employee burnout or customer service issues.

But you don’t have to wait until you’re right in the middle of a busy season or stuck in a pandemic to hire remotely. You can start today and build the team of your dreams.

Tap Into Top Talent From Across the World

Hiring remote team members means you’re not limited to the local talent pool residing within commuting distance to your office.

You can open your positions to candidates all over the world.

This gives you the opportunity to add diversity to your team, listen to different voices and perspectives, and bring new ideas to the table.

Is your office in an area with a higher than average cost of living?

You may be able to hire experts to take your business to the next level for less than what you would have to pay an in-house employee.

Want more intel about the cost-savings WFH employees bring? Check out that guide on the pros and cons of remote-friendly companies next. 

Despite all these perks, there are a few drawbacks to hiring remote worth considering.

Common Challenges You’ll Face with Work from Home Employees

Understand the potential challenges you’ll face managing remote employees, and you’ll have a better idea of how to work around them.

The most common issues traditional companies deal with when adding a remote team include:

Trusting That Your Team is Working

Since your team won’t be huddled together in the office, it may be difficult to know what they’re working on, or worse, if they’re actually working.

This is a common complaint many companies use against going remote. Fortunately, it’s easy to overcome this worry with the right systems in place (more on this next!).

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That’s why you’re better off measuring results delivered from your work from home employees instead of only clocking hours worked.

This is especially true if your team can accomplish more by working from home.

Potential Time Differences

If you decide to hire team members from around the globe, you’ll need to consider employees being in different time zones.

Will you ask them to work in your time zone if they’re handling customer service issues? Or can they work their own hours programming or writing marketing materials, for example?

These details will need to be hashed out ahead of time so everyone’s on the same page.

Slightly Different Communication Preferences 

You can’t pop in the office of a work from home employee anytime you need an update or have a question. But sending 15 emails or Slack messages isn’t the right move either.

Constantly checking in on your remote team is a recipe for distraction. It may also cause unnecessary stress and anxiety if employees feel like they’re not being trusted, or as if “Big Brother” is constantly monitoring them.

That’s why it’s best to establish a protocol for communication during your onboarding process, which we’ll show you how to do next.

How to Onboard Your New Work From Home Employees

You’re bound to experience growing pains after hiring a new in-house employee, so expect an adjustment period for your work from home employees too.

Follow these five onboarding tips, and the whole process should go smoother and with fewer hiccups:

#1. Create a Remote Onboarding Process and Set Expectations

Like your in-house onboarding experience, you’ll need to create a separate one for your work from home employees.

This will look a little different, but will still outline where employees can access their training materials, learn what’s expected of them, and find answers to any questions they may have.

You can think of this like an employee handbook that addresses everything related to your business. This helps everyone sing the same song, so to speak, no matter where they live or work.

You can use your in-house guide as a starting point and make the necessary adjustments for a separate WFH onboarding experience from there.

#2. Offer Virtual Training Via Online Videos

Spend time creating short, online training videos that team members can always refer back to should they need more assistance.  

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Yes, this will take extra time and resources on your end. 

But these videos will live forever for your current and future hires. Keep them organized in one shared folder, and they’ll be available anytime employees get stuck.

So really, your initial effort will be multiplied ten-fold without any extra work.

Start with one video to welcome your new team members. Walk them through what’s expected of them in the company or in their role.

You should also include instructions for using the tools mentioned next.

#3. Give Employees Access to Communication Tools, Project Management Software, and More

To always know what your team is working on, you’ll want to use communication and project management tools to keep everyone in the loop.

This is the easiest way to keep projects on schedule and avoid any confusion about what’s going on or when things are due.

In your training videos, mention the tools your new team members are expected to learn. Then give them a brief walkthrough of where they can find specific features and how to use them.

#4. Check In On a Set Schedule (Don’t Micromanage or Hover!)

Even though you’ll have communication tools in place, that doesn’t mean you should message a WFH employee every five minutes to check in.

As we covered earlier, hovering over your remote employees is counterproductive, breeds distrust, and adds unnecessary stress. This makes it harder for your team to do their jobs well.

So to avoid this, explain your check-in schedule during your onboarding session. And add it to your training documents so everyone knows what’s expected of them in black and white.

Think about agreeing to a daily morning and evening update, or something more casual like a Monday, Wednesday, and Friday check-in.

Touch base only during these specified times so your team knows when it’s going to happen and can prepare accordingly. 

#5. Hold Performance Reviews at Routine Intervals 

Just like you would hold performance reviews for in-house team members, you should do the same for your work from home crew.

This will help you monitor your team’s progress. And it also gives you feedback on what’s working/not working on their end. Then you can brainstorm ideas to improve the process before it snowballs into a big mess.

So on top of providing feedback at the 30-, 60-, 90-day, and one-year marks, you should also solicit their input regularly to see what they’re enjoying or wish was better.

You may be surprised to learn this feedback, and they’ll appreciate you taking the time to ask and listen. The whole process builds trust and keeps employees more engaged with their work and your company.

Now You Can Onboard New Work From Home Employees with Fewer Hiccups and Headaches

See? Onboarding a new work from home employee is pretty easy when you have a better understanding of the benefits and challenges of doing so.

Now you’re ready to tackle topics like:
  1. How to Switch to a Temporary Remote Work Environment - Best Practices From the Experts
  2. The Dos and Don’ts of Transitioning Into a Remote-First Company
  3. 5 Best Practices For Managing Remote Teams
  4. 5 Tips For Building a Remote Team

These resources will give you everything you need to successfully team up with work from home employees and grow your business remotely. 

Where do you find great remote workers to hire? Post a job on our remote job board today, and one of our 2 million+ monthly visitors may be your perfect candidate!

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