How to Virtually Onboard Remote Freelancers Efficiently

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There’s no question that tech advancements have changed the way we work. Freelancers and remote workers have gone from being rare to playing a major part in the workforce. The number of remote workers has increased by 159% since 2005. More than 80% of large corporations also plan to substantially increase their use of a flexible workforce in the coming years, and 92% of millennials say they want to work remotely. So, chances are you’ll be onboarding remote workers to your team sooner than later.

Whether you’re hiring a remote freelancer or employee, you’re onboarding someone new to your team during the COVID-19 outbreak, or your new hire is unable to be in the office during the training period, you need an efficient remote onboarding strategy.

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Here’s a checklist of 8 helpful tactics to include in your remote onboarding process that will set your new remote hires up for success.

1. Equip them for success

If you’re offering a company laptop, mouse, software or any other equipment they need for their role, ensure that they receive this before their onboarding start date. 

Also, nothing says “welcome to the team” quite like a sweet company tee, am I right? Seriously though, a great way to make someone feel excited to be part of your team is with some company swag.

Since they’ll be working remotely, you can send them company-branded merch via the mail (or a carrier pigeon, do as you will). Your package can include a custom t-shirt or a backpack, for example. You can also add a fun personalized gift such as a gift card to their local coffee shop. If that’s not feasible (or if snail mail is too slow), another option would be to send them something directly from Amazon, such as a laptop bag or a funny coffee mug. Either way, a thoughtful welcome gift is sure to make a lasting first impression. 

And let’s not forget, you’ll need to send them their onboarding schedule. Send Google calendar invites to schedule orientation meetings so they can feel prepared and plan accordingly. 

2. Welcome them to the team

Yes, a “welcome to the team” email is good (even better with a funny GIF), but a video call is the best! Set up a group video conference call to introduce them to the team. Team members should describe their role in the company and how they’ll collaborate with their new remote teammate.

Everyone could also share a fun fact about themselves, play two truths and a lie or participate in other team building games to help break the ice.

You’ll also want to organize one-on-one meetings with their manager or direct reports, the CEO and other co-workers they’ll work closely with. This way, they’ll get to know each other on a more personal level and understand the lay of the land.

3. Get them set up on all the tech & paperwork

This is the part where you give your new remote worker access to company accounts and get them signed into their new work email. Via email, you can send them all the tools, applications and software that you use. Your IT team can help with data privacy, system security and the proper use of software and operating systems.

Ensure you get them familiar with the file-sharing applications and sign them up for applications and the communication tools that you use.

If you have Slack (or any other communication tool), invite them to all relevant channels as well as your random and meme channel too. If you don’t have these funny channels, what are you waiting for? It’s a great way to keep work fun and build up team bonding.

Next up – ugh the paperwork, well… The digital paperwork. Although it’s better for the environment, it’s still just as dull. But definitely crucial. Depending on whether they’re a remote employee or a remote freelancer, the paperwork will differ. Such paperwork can include payroll info, benefits info and tax forms. These can be sent digitally through email, printed, signed and scanned (or faxed, I guess. Do people still use fax machines?).

A simpler way to deal with the paperwork would be to have them e-sign the documents using an online e-signature platform such as DocuSign.

4. Present your company and culture

Set up a conference where you can screen share a PowerPoint presentation that you’ve prepared. Your presentation should highlight your company’s history and key achievements, values, department structures, product demos, culture, vision and mission, future goals and anything else you’d like to share. 

Ensure to make your presentation interactive and pause for questions. Maybe also make room for a joke or two to keep it fun. Be informative and transparent, but try not to overwhelm them with too much info right off the bat. You can split this presentation up into two different meetings or send them the presentation afterwards to give them some more time to digest it and read it over again. That way, they can then also write notes with questions or comments directly in the presentation. You can then respond and go over it with them again to ensure they understand what you want to accomplish as a team (this is pretty vital).

5. Plan role-specific training

You probably already know this, but the actual training part of onboarding is the most essential. Your new remote hire should understand their role and where they fit within your organization. That’s why you’ll need to assign them to a designated role trainer. Whether it’s their manager or a co-worker working in the same role – they’ll need that personal mentor and go-to person to teach them all the ropes of their position. 

Role-specific training should include the following: 

  • Their daily tasks and responsibilities 
  • Their objectives and what they contribute to the company
  • How to use job-specific tools and systems 
  • Where to track progress and organize projects
  • How they will collaborate with different team members

You’ll want to send them your digital documents highlighting all of these essential points, so they have them at hand.

If you have any cool interactive video training already in your back pocket – awesome, you can use those as part of your training. Try including games or quizzes within these videos as well to increase engagement.

Otherwise, screen sharing will be crucial for onboarding remote workers. This way, as you virtually train them, you can walk them through how to navigate the software and systems that you use. You can also flip screen sharing to their screen so that they can show you that they correctly understand the system on their end.

6. Clarify expectations

Now’s the time to communicate your expectations of your remote worker. They may be in a different time zone, so you must highlight the times they’ll be working (or let them know if the times will be flexible). Other important things to focus on are: 

  •  How many hours they’re expected to work weekly 
  • Upcoming projects and the output that is expected
  • Deadlines they have to meet
  • Communication expectations
  • Availability for them to attend meetings
  • Progress reports and updates

 Being transparent with what’s expected from day one ensures they can fit into the company’s culture and operations effortlessly.

7. Schedule regular check-ins

When it comes to onboarding, there’s no such thing as too much communication. There are no bad questions at the beginning. Let this be clear to your new remote hire so that they feel comfortable regularly asking questions to their trainer or manager. This is especially crucial for a remote team since they can’t exactly swivel their chair around and ask you to clarify something in person.

So, ensure their trainer makes themselves available to answer any questions throughout the day and that they are easily reachable. Let your new hire know which way is the best way to contact the trainer for all inquiries. 

Also, and most importantly, schedule regular check-ins with your new remote worker. And yes, schedule these in your Google calendars so that they’re a priority. Check-ins can be done daily at the end of the day, twice daily (one in the morning and one after the workday), or after training sessions to clarify what they’ve learned.

8. Provide resources for further learning

It’s great to give remote workers external resources to further their learning and get them in line with your company’s beliefs.  

You can share webinars, podcasts, books or audiobooks, give them access to online courses of even Youtube video clips. Set up a doc and send them all these additional resources through there. You can also ask them to share with the team some useful resources they may have learned. It’s all about mutual team growth.

To find and hire freelance professionals and remote workers, visit us at Oomple – Your go-to professional Freelance marketplace.