Remote Employee Onboarding: A Challenging Task

In human resource terms, onboarding is a process that begins with hiring a recruit. The process involves familiarizing the new member with various teams, taking care of the logistics, etc. Fundamentally, onboarding is the process of making a new employee feel welcome and comfortable in the new organization. This process begins with the hiring of an employee and it can stretch up to a year in some cases. Usually, onboarding is a one-on-one process. However, with work from home becoming the norm due to the pandemic, even HR activities like onboarding are now being taken care of virtually.

This has opened up a host of opportunities for businesses, especially in terms of outsourcing work and hiring employees for companies across the globe. India has been a crucial outsourcing destination for a long time. Now, hiring an employee from India to work for companies abroad as a full-time, part-time, or even ad-hoc resource has become easier with HR activities becoming virtual as well. 

Employee Onboarding Process in Brief

A typical employee onboarding process includes several activities: collecting documents for verification, creating an employee profile, generating an employee id, setting up new employee access in terms of emails, and granting permission to work in a remote environment. The later stage of onboarding involves the allotment of desks or workstations to an employee. However, this is negated in a virtual setup. Once all of this is taken care of, the training period begins.

The virtual model for work has altered a lot of aspects of HR activities though some remain intact. For instance, while the documentation process remains the same in terms of collecting required documents, physical signatures have now given way to digital signatures. The process of remote employee onboarding has become quite a challenge for human resources. This is because during a remote hiring process there is always a lack of interpersonal interaction. Though the process of onboarding in a remote environment remains the same as that of physical onboarding, there is a variation. 

Exclusive Remote Employee Onboarding Responsibilities 

As employees continue to be hired for remote work profiles, here are some critical HR responsibilities that must be paid attention to. HR is responsible for encouraging queries among new employees, who will always have a lot of insecurities and questions about their work, fellow team members, and organization-specific policies and rules. HR helps clarify these doubts for the new employees. On the other hand, this is an opportunity that can be optimized by the HR personnel to gain the trust of the employees by giving detailed information about how their remote profile will work. 

In a remote environment, employees must be prepped to face and deal with problems in a different way. For instance, in an in-person office setup, a colleague could help out and resolve some of the technical glitches faced during everyday work, without the help of IT. However, in the remote set up raising an IT ticket will be a necessity. These nuances of working remotely have to be reiterated during the remote employee onboarding process.

remote employee has to coordinate with teams or a team that works from various global locations. Communication and productivity tools become the lifelines for coordinating work and general team-building exercises in such a setup. Hence, one of the crucial roles of the employee onboarding process is to ensure that new employees are set up with access to the needed communication and productivity tools.

What follows remote employee onboarding is remote hiring. However, remote hiring has also become a difficult process. While an in-person interview earlier gave the recruiter and the prospect both a chance to assess the work environment face to face, remote hiring is a different ball game altogether. Here, the employee has to believe the company as represented on the website. Next, he or she will look up information on review sites. Hence, from the recruitment point of view, the website must be updated and informative.

Transparency is another critical aspect. It is now a deciding factor for prospective employees as a hundred percent transparency is expected in matters of job descriptions. Since remote hiring is carried out on emails and interactions via audio and video conferencing apps, everything should be laid bare on the table during the hiring process.

It should be remembered that when referring to remote hiring, we are talking about hiring from the global market. Every country will have a different way of working. While in countries like India, full-time or part-time work is the most preferred means of employment, in countries like the US, people generally have more flexibility and can work for a fortnight or even on a weekly basis. So work hours and shifts, for instance, should be communicated with clarity and discussed if and when needed.

Shift to “Remote Employee” a New Norm 

With the onslaught of the pandemic, there has been a complete paradigm shift in HR hiring and its subsequent processes. With Remote employee hiring now becoming an established new norm as a part of the recruitment process massive change in the work environment has been ushered in.

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