Remote work is no longer the wave of the future. It’s the here and now and that’s not going to change.
In late 2020, Upwork estimated that approximately 25% of the workforce would be work remotely in 2021.
This large percentage means many things to you as a job candidate. More specifically, the likelihood of getting hired for a remote position is quite high.
Even if you’re not hired to work remotely full-time, there’s a good chance you’ll spend much of your schedule in your home office.
If you find yourself in the job market, you need to prepare for two things:
- The likelihood that you’ll be asked to work from home, either on a full or part-time basis.
- The fact that the onboarding process is unique, as you’re not ramping up in a face to face environment.
Expect the following
Finding success at your new job starts with the onboarding process. If you get started on the wrong foot, it can slow down your progress.
Fortunately, when you know what to expect, it’s easier to deal with anything that comes your way.
1. The need for advanced preparation
Before your first day on the job, you must prepare accordingly. The right approach varies from person to person and company to company, but this typically means:
- Reviewing your employee handbook.
- Setting up your new equipment.
- Providing any documentation required by your new employer.
Proper preparation will help you hit the ground running. Not only does this save everyone time, but it allows you to make a good first impression. And when you do that, your boss will immediately see your value as a remote worker.
2. Plenty of technology
In a face-to-face environment, onboarding typically entails a lot of face time with your manager, co-workers, and HR staff among others. But when you’re onboarding remotely, technology moves to the forefront. For example, you’ll use video communication technology—such as Zoom—to connect with others.
It’s easy to believe that a lack of personal touch will hinder engagement and make onboarding more difficult, but that’s not always the case.
Despite all the obstacles, most remote workers have a stronger sense of belonging than their colleagues who work on-site. Regardless of the fact that remote workers often communicate with their teams only over the internet, they feel like their “opinions seem to count.”
This all comes back to using technology to your advantage. As you prepare for the onboarding process, familiarize yourself with the many forms of technology that your employer will request you to use.
3. A longer training period with more questions
This isn’t always the case, but there’s a good chance your training period could be longer than an in-person training period. And here’s why:
- Remote communication can only take you so far, so fast.
- It may take longer to receive answers to your questions and feedback on your progress, especially if you’re not the only person being onboarded.
- Confusion and miscommunication are more likely, which can result in more questions and a greater need for explanation.
Even companies that are skilled and experienced at onboarding and training remote employees often face complications.
Your employer should have a structured onboarding process, as this has been proven to reduce the amount of time from hiring to productivity. A thorough remote onboarding process should include well-prepared materials that often allow you to learn on your own, scheduled check-ins at regular intervals, and clear expectations for performance and learning metrics. It should also include the means with which to communicate regularly with leadership when any question or issue arises.
Tips for success
Don’t expect everything to go smoothly with the onboarding process. There will be hiccups along the way, and you simply need to deal with them to the best of your ability.
There are several tips you can follow to minimize the risk of hiccups:
- Communicate, communicate, and communicate more: It’s all about keeping an open line of communication with the right people. This holds true when negotiating your needs as a remote worker, asking questions for clarification, and completing assigned tasks. There’s no such thing as over-communicating during onboarding. It’s better to go the extra mile.
- Find a mentor: Maybe your company will assign a mentor, such as a co-worker in your department or manager. Or perhaps you need to seek someone out who’s willing to show you the ropes. A mentor can help ease the stress often associated with onboarding, such as by helping you avoid common mistakes, providing guidance, and double-checking your work.
- Don’t be shy: This goes along with communicating. In a traditional office environment, it’s hard to be shy during onboarding. There are always people stopping by your desk, asking you to join them for lunch, and offering their assistance. But when working remotely, it’s just you. Don’t “hole up” in your home office and hope for the best. Speak up as necessary.
No matter how much you prepare, it’s difficult to know exactly what to expect while being onboarded remotely.
However, even if you only understand the basics of the process, it better positions you to proceed efficiently and effectively.
About the Author:
Jori Hamilton is a writer from the Pacific Northwest who has a particular interest in social justice, politics, education, healthcare, technology, and more. You can follow her on Twitter @ HamiltonJori.