May 25, 2023

Remote Readiness Guide: Onboarding and Documentation

A guide to setting up remote-first workforces for success, from pre-boarding to continuous onboarding.

Since 2020, we’ve gotten familiar with remote work. We’ve accomplished incredible feats with people we’ve never met in person, built teams spanning the globe, and forgotten about the fluorescent lighting of the office or the commute needed to get there.

Now, our workspaces are everywhere: spare rooms, coffee shops, coworking spaces, and satellite offices. Remote work means a lot of different experiences to a lot of different people, making the few shared experiences even more important.

WFHomie and Helm are both fully remote companies, and we’re collaborating to help you understand those critical shared experiences—and make them count. Many companies are still figuring out how to navigate remote work without losing momentum, morale, or talent. With our shared expertise in engagement, retention, inclusion, and belonging, we’re here to help you nail the most crucial parts of the employee experience.

Why Employee Experience Matters in Remote Work

Generally speaking, employees who work remotely are just as—or more—productive, communicative, and happy as their in-office counterparts. But things that happen organically in person, like casual watercooler conversations, serendipitous collaboration, or ‘good mornings,’ aren’t happening over Slack or Zoom.

There are tons of exceptional remote work tools that enable seamless collaboration and good work, but it’s all the stuff that happen around work that ends up paying dividends in employee happiness, retention, and engagement. These small but mighty components of the employee experience are extremely important to building trust, empathy, and joy at work.

Part 1: Onboarding and Documentation

The employee experience starts with the onboarding process. Because it’s the first step, it’s also one of the biggest contributor to long-term success—or premature turnover. Onboarding is where expectations are set, introductions are made, and plans are laid. Most importantly, it’s where a new hire goes from wanted to welcomed.

Let’s unpack the onboarding experience and figure out where to place small wins that go the distance. Ultimately, onboarding is composed of two parts: process and people. The process component includes paperwork, compliance, and technology. The people component is what we’ll be focusing on—what it takes to make a new hire feel that they belong to a greater community.

Why onboarding matters

1. Pre-boarding

Most think that onboarding—and by extension, the employee experience—starts on day one. But in reality, it starts far earlier. The first meaningful touchpoint in the employee experience is when a new hire receives and confirms their offer. The couple-week period between the offer and day one is a fantastic opportunity to make the employee feel welcome. Here’s what you can do to win the pre-boarding experience:

2. Day one

Day one is where it all officially starts. It’s where new hires make their entrance, get oriented to their new role, and crucially, it’s where they meet the people they’ll be working with. It’s completely normal for new hires to feel a little confused and nervous on their first day—especially in a remote setting, which can feel isolating. It’s your job as a leader to do some handholding, ice breaking, introducing, and assuring.

The worst day one experiences never acknowledge the gravity of day one and don’t do anything to break the ice. In short, bad first days are isolating, confusing, and unplanned, and good ones are welcoming, structured, and intentional. Here’s what you can do to win the day one experience:

3. First month and beyond

This is where behavior and culture starts to settle. During the first month, new hires remain fairly moldable, but they quickly start to form a cadence. Even as they get more comfortable with their role and their teammates, they’re likely still feeling the effects of impostor syndrome.

Remote work for everyone

Your team is unique—so should be your remote policy. Don’t feel like you have to follow what other companies are doing. Instead, figure out what works best for your team, your company, and the work you do.

On the other hand, try not to repeat other companies’ mistakes as you build remote work readiness. We’re sharing broad guidelines—there’s lots of room to put your own spin on them.

Stay in the loop.

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