You may have a large proportion or all of your workforce working remotely at present. Which leads to the question of how to welcome a new remote employee. As a SME, you may be considering the cost of workspace. Is working remotely going well for your business and your workforce? Is the cost of your normal workspace expensive? Perhaps you are considering a permanent move to working remotely.
A company called Reboot Digital Marketing have decided to move permanently to a remote way of working (reported by the BBC, 6th May 2020 ). Their chief executive thinks that it will save them around 10% of their turnover. And the period of enforced working from home led to the discovery that remote working suits his workforce.
However, this shift to remote working leads to the question of how to welcome a new remote employee. I am interested in this question. I have mostly worked remotely for the last 5 years and have of course welcomed new team members in this time. However, face-to-face meetings have always been an option and I have always used them in the induction period. How do you go about welcoming someone to your team when this is not an option? How do you make them feel welcome and ensure they know everything they need to know in a wholly remote set up? This blog post summarises what I have discovered.
Best practice suggestions on how to welcome a new remote employee
Before they start
My research found that a common recommendation is to increase pre-employment contact. An article published by People Management emphasises this. They suggest that good communication is key to building the relationship with your new starter. Michael Page, a recruitment agency, agree. They say regular communication ‘will give the employee clarity about what to expect once they commence their employment’.
This is also a good opportunity to make sure that your new starter has all the equipment that they need. It is a good time to make sure that the technology works and that they can access the systems that they need on day one.
The second tip is to put more thought than normal into structuring and planning the first week or so. Claire Williams, director of people and services at CIPHR, says “Managers will need to provide more structure so employees aren’t just sitting there not doing anything and feeling demotivated”.
Robert Walters, a recruitment agency, also makes this suggestion. Their top tip is to set out an itinerary for the first couple of weeks. This may include training sessions, one-to-ones, team meetings and time to work on specified tasks. I think that their suggestion to set daily expectations would be particularly effective. This helps your new employee know what to focus on throughout the day. Daily check-ins help you build a relationship with the new employee, increasing their understanding and autonomy. Michael Page agree: ‘For the first week or so, a check-in once a day is a must but this can be reduced over the following weeks, particularly as your new employee gets to know their colleagues and opens up further lines of communication over projects and priorities.’
Although make sure you find a happy medium; the People Management article warns against over-communicating and micro-managing. Nigel Wright, recruitment agency, thinks that by setting clear tasks early on this can be avoided. Giving new team members a purpose early on means they can immediately see their impact and contribution to the team.
Set up virtual meetings with the right people
Of course there will be a number of people that new starters need to meet. Michael Page say: ‘it is essential to set up a series of video calls with key people in the business within their first few days, as face-to-face screen time decreases feelings of isolation and builds trust’.
However, be careful not to overload them with video meetings though, as research has shown they can be exhausting. This means being clear on who is relevant for them to meet and why.
Remember to include some social sessions. Some more informal sessions help embed new employees in the company culture. One suggestion is a company movie night.
Conclusions on how to welcome a new remote employee
I think that my key take away from my research into how to welcome a new remote employee is that as a manager you need to be more prepared than normal. It is important that you carefully plan out the induction to strike that balance between communicating with the new employee enough and overwhelming them.