Onboarding New Remote Hires

posted by Abby Glenn |

Companies are still hiring but are now faced with a new challenge – onboarding new hires remotely. As employers, it’s important to set the groundwork for bonding, culture and expectations in order to be successful. Being that many of our clients are facing similar challenges, we wanted to share a few best practices that will set you new team members up for success.

Integrating New Hires

Starting your onboarding process before their start date ensures that your new hire will have everything that they need to hit the ground running. Some suggestions on items to send before their first day include:

  • Welcome email and team introduction
  • HR/company documents
  • All proper equipment/technology
  • The information they should know before their first day
  • Their onboarding schedule—this way they can be prepared for what their first week will entail
  • Company swag to feel a part of the team and get excited for their new role

Tech Should Be First Priority

Let’s take a minute and put ourselves in the position of the new hire. Starting a new job can be stressful enough without adding in the issue of not knowing how the various software platforms and communication channels work. We find that sending new hires their equipment and online tutorials/manuals before their first day helps them to feel prepared and eases any unnecessary stress. You’ll want to make sure that you have a follow up IT training scheduled for the first or second day. That way, any questions that your new hires have after watching the tutorials or reading the manual can be answered right away.

Things to cover during your IT training could include:

  • Company email
  • Group messaging tool
  • Video communication software
  • File-sharing applications (Google Drive, Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, etc.)
  • Computer and email security applications

Demonstrating Culture

We know this can be a challenging thing to do through an online platform. But, taking the time to show your company’s culture can really add value to the new hire’s first week. Through video calls, you can accurately demonstrate your company’s culture while offering a way for everyone to feel included in their first week. It also allows you to introduce them to higher-level executives, either through a video conference call or a prerecorded video. Some video topic ideas to show your company culture can include:

  • Welcome video or video call from your CEO or President and other team members
  • Your culture, organizational values and mission, the history of the organization, etc.
  • Inspirational messages from a member of your leadership team
  • Retreat, event, volunteering, etc. footage from before everyone was social distancing

Setting Expectations

When working remotely and bringing on new employees, managers should be prepared to set specific goals and expectations early on. You don’t want them to have to wait for their manager or team lead to get online to learn what their next tasks are for that day. This wastes time and may cause unnecessary stress. You’ll want to make sure that your hiring managers:

  • Develop and share a task calendar with their new hires after their training and onboarding sessions are complete
  • Define short-term and long-term goals
  • Schedule weekly one-on-one meetings to discuss upcoming projects, progress, resolve any issues they are facing, and overall just check in with how things are going

Introducing Team Members and Key Employees

We all know that starting a remote role can leave some feeling isolated and even left out from the team. They haven’t had the chance to connect with the team and doing so online can prove to be very challenging. But, building relationships is well worth the effort! Set up one-on-one meetings and/or a group call so employees can meet the people they will be working with. Not only does this open a path for communication, but it also allows them to feel included within their team. Try having the manager set up bi-weekly team meetings, virtual happy hours or an open chat channel to give everyone on their team time to talk with their new coworker.

Arrange Trainings

Now we know that this is probably self-explanatory, but make sure you set aside time for the new hires to sit down with a hiring manager or a team member to train them on their role. This can be very similar to how you train in the office; however, you will need to adapt to be virtual. Screen sharing is a great way to keep things simple. We find that this is the easiest way to adapt, and it allows the new hire to ask questions in real-time, something that might be more difficult if you were to only do a prerecorded training.  

Improving Your Process

Continue to improve your onboarding process to find what bests works for your team and your culture. Ask for feedback and don’t be afraid to be creative in tackling these new challenges. We predict remote hiring will become even more common, so this is a great time to build onto an ongoing process.

Need some more help with your remote onboarding process? We would love to talk you through what has worked for us in the past and answer any questions that you have!

A Guide to Managing Your Newly Remote Teams

posted by Abby Glenn |

Many companies in recent weeks have transitioned to working 100% remote with very little preparation.  This can lead to confusion, stress, and feelings of isolation—not only for yourself but for your employees as well. Don’t worry—we have tips to make this transition easier and to help you effectively lead your team remotely!

Remain Positive

As a leader, you are needed more than ever. Many employees are feeling uneasy and even though you may also feel this way, it’s important to provide stability, positivity, empathy, and understanding. Have your teams focus on the aspects they can control by establishing clear, actionable items. In turn, they will be more productive and motivated.

Provide Information and Structure

Before, your employees could easily get information needed for deliverables by stopping at a team member’s desk or jumping into an impromptu meeting. Now, getting information has become a difficult task as employees are faced with a new working environment, new workloads and potentially new hours working at home with children. This can be easily combated by setting up intentional methods of communication.

  • Establishing a time frame to respond to internal emails allowing employees to get access to information quickly.
  • Creating an accountability structure in order to understand what projects they are currently working on and what priorities are.
  • Sharing calendars so that team members can better coordinate.
  • Have a set check-in time for touching base so you are informed about their workflow and can check how things are going.

Setting up these expectations can keep your teams aligned and working efficiently. 

Encourage Social Interaction and Engagement

A lack of face-to-face communication can result in employees experiencing social isolation and lack of engagement. According to Gallup, 70% of an individual’s engagement is driven by their manager.

Here are some suggestions to drive social interaction and keep engagement high:

  • Have regular one-on-one meetings over video chat with each one of your team members to show interest in their personal progress – we recommend video check-ins at least once a week, if possible.
  • Schedule virtual happy hours with your teams on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. A virtual happy hour can be a get together with no set schedule or it could be a short 15-minute call. This gives team members the opportunity to sit back with their favorite drink and have a laid-back discussion with those on the team! For more information, check out our Virtual Happy Hour blog post!
  • Have your team meetings over video chat – we know, most of the time when you’re working from home, you don’t want to be on video. However, having this face-to-face contact with the whole team is a great way to make sure everyone feels included in the discussion.
  • Set up a simple chat room for everyone on your team to use when they need a short break or, even, a good laugh. Create subgroups about recently binged TV shows, work from home tips or at home workouts!
  • Add in a short 5-10-minute discussion to the beginning of your meetings to just share personal news or ask how everyone has been doing.

Be Flexible

Kids are home from school, and many employees are trying to figure out how to work from home for the first time. Take this time to really show your employees that you care by being patient with them and this new work environment!

When it comes to measuring productivity, try using results rather than logged time. What does that mean? Instead of having set hours that everyone needs to work during the day (like 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM), try setting goals of when certain tasks need to be completed by. This way, parents can work at whatever time they think will work best for them and their families!

Offer Your Support

We bet you’re wondering how you can support your employees during the transition from office life to working from home. Well, there isn’t a simple fix for everyone, but here are some ideas to try

  • Provide several different communication channels for employees to reach you
  • Offer encouragement and emotional support as needed to your employees
  • Above all, just be a resource for your employees

Even though this is a new environment, it is completely manageable! You just need to find solutions that work best for you and your team. Don’t be afraid to be creative in how you connect with your team.

If you have any questions or want some more resources on how to manage your remote team, reach out to us! We’re always here to help and we are more than happy to share our experiences with you!

Virtual Happy Hour

posted by Abby Glenn |

Grab your drink of choice, cuddle up next to your pet and get ready for your next happy hour!

Right now, since everyone is in sort of a long-distance relationship, virtual happy hours are more important than ever to keep up with social interaction, have some laughs and figure out different ways to connect with each other.

There are many ways that we’ve found to keep our employees engaged and feel involved while working remote and we want to share those with you!

Have Fun!

One way that we’ve found to keep these virtual happy hours fun and really learn more about each other is to incorporate remote team building! Not only does this allow your employees to know each other, but they are also a great stress-reliever.

Introducing Pets/Kids!

Coworkers hear stories about everyone’s kids or pets either when they were in the office or over chat. Give them the opportunity to meet them on camera.

Play Some Icebreaker Games

Okay, we know what you’re thinking, “…but these are so cheesy!” Yes, we know they’re cheesy, but they’re also amazing at allowing your employees to talk and get to know each other better. Being remote can get extremely lonely and you want to offer time for employees to unwind. Here are some of our favorites!

1. What’s Your Favorite Thing?

This is a great game to play when you aren’t sure how people will respond to playing an icebreaker game during a happy hour.

2. In Common

Is your team having trouble coming up with new ideas or communicating effectively while being remote? This could be your solution! This game allows your employees to get back on track and work as a team to achieve the end goal in a non-stressful environment!

3. A Picture into Your Life

This game will allow your team to have fun and put their creativity to the test!

4. Take A Guess

Here is another game that allows your employees to utilize their creativity skills and learn about their coworkers in a fun way!

5. Chat Channels

Create fun, dedicated chat channels and announce them during your virtual happy hour. Do you know that your employees won’t respond well to a team building exercise? This could be the way that you get your employees to connect in a remote environment!

Keep It Simple!

You don’t need to always do something outside the box. Sometimes, the best way to get your employees to feel included is to just set up a time and space for them to talk and see one another. Having them add in their drink of choice allows the environment to feel a little more comfortable and laid back.

Need Help?

We would love to help you and your team navigate this new work from home environment! No matter if that’s through finding the best virtual happy hour solution or just the best work from home solution for you and your team. We’ve been doing this for a little over a year, so we would love to provide you with our insight! Feel free to send us a message!

video call on computer

How to Stay Connected as a Remote Employee

posted by Megan Hari |

Getting hired as a remote employee is both exciting and scary. There is the opportunity to be flexible with your location and to be more productive without people distracting you. However, there can also be a feeling of disconnect or loneliness as you cannot always be included in things happening in the corporate office and do not have the opportunity to go to someone in-person for an immediate response when an issue arises.

When I was hired to work remotely at Swoon, I didn’t know what to expect. I had my hesitations about not having everyone I needed around me; What if I didn’t know how to do something? How would I get support? However, from the minute I started, I never felt disconnected or left out and have always felt like a part of the “flock.”

Swoon has a plan in place to make sure all employees can work together no matter where they are located. However, not all companies are as aware of this need. If you are a remote employee and are feeling disengaged or left out, here are a few tips to help you get back in the loop.

Video Chat

Set up a brief meeting either daily or weekly where you can speak with your team and/or manager through a video chat application. Being able to see your colleagues is a lot more personable than a phone call and helps build relationships as you get to see each other’s facial expressions and mannerisms.

Companywide Trainings or Meetings

Whenever possible, join in on anything that is companywide. It gives you a chance to interact with colleagues that you don’t usually get to work with. This will also help you to stay current with what the corporate office is doing and the tools they are utilizing. At Swoon, we meet once a week with the whole company to go over numbers, goals, wins, birthdays, events, etc. which helps keep all employees on the same page.

Travel and Visits

As much as you can feel connected through technology, sometimes it is important to physically be in the office with your colleagues. I try to travel to the headquarters at least once a quarter, so I can work with my team in person and plan for the months ahead. It is also important to have company leadership come work from your location, so they can see how your day to day looks. They may be able to come up with ways for you to be more connected by living a day in your shoes.  You should always take the initiative by asking if a travel opportunity is possible and explaining how it will help impact your work.

Make Yourself Easily Accessible

In an office environment, it is easy to walk over to someone’s desk and ask a question or discuss a project. People are usually available to you most of the day except in when in meetings. It is important to have this same accessibility from your remote location. You should be available to respond to emails, phone calls, chats and text in a timely fashion. By minimizing distractions and being prompt with your responses, you will make others know that you are just as available if not more so than their local colleagues.

Just remember, as a remote employee, it may take a little more effort to feel connected with your coworkers. You will have to take control of your connections and reach out often. However, with the right plan in place, you will get the perks of working remote with the feeling of being local.

Written by:
Nicole Vallysedigh
Recruiter