Remote employee onboarding tips from Asana Chief of Staff Anna Binder
For teams that are still hiring, it can be difficult to know how to onboard a new employee without interacting face-to-face. Even with video calls and clear communication channels, there are parts of your onboarding program that will be different in light of the new remote work standards.
To help keep new hires engaged and help managers everywhere apply the same level of care and authenticity to remote onboarding as they did to regular onboarding, we asked Anna Binder, Asana’s Chief People Officer, to share some tips. And this is what she told us.
Tips for managers onboarding new employees remotely
1. Connect with new teammates before they start
To ensure that new employees feel connected to their team, we encourage managers to communicate with their new employees to get to know each other before their start date. At Asana, we keep new hires engaged by reaching out to them before their start date with information they may need, details about what their first day will be like, and a warm greeting from the team.
Make sure you are included in all pre-onboarding communications, so you can get involved and offer additional support. People often have questions before starting a new job, particularly in a context that is changing a lot around us. By providing the new hire with a direct line of communication with their manager and teammates, they can get their questions answered and reduce the uncertainty that can build up before they even start work.
In addition to that, we encourage the establishment of a mentoring program between new hires and existing members of your team or an adjacent team. At Asana, we pair the new hire with a mentor who isn’tyour manager; Nobody wants to ask their manager a lot of questions in the first week. So we appointed a teammate to be the person he can turn to. From a volunteer pool of onboarding mentors, we select a mentor for each new hire so they have a trusted guide to provide motivation and emotional support. Having a mentor or co-worker is especially important for remote onboarding, so the new hire has someone to provide workplace context and points of contact in their first few weeks.
2. Make the first day count
Onboarding is a pivotal moment, and you can make employees feel as special as the first day of school. However, too often the focus is on getting people started and contributing, rather than helping them fit into a new culture and creating a space for them to be themselves.
When onboarding new employees remotely, start by making sure all of your most important resources like team directories, shared calendars, and internal communication channels are easily and clearly accessible, but not the main focus of the day Then do your best to replicate the feeling of being in the same room with other teammates. We do this by creating an online community for new hires in Slack, hosting virtual welcome lunches, and scheduling virtual coffee dates with teammates they’ll be working with.
At the end of the day, take a moment to see how the new hire onboarded remotely is doing, review their first day, and give them a space to share how it went. Also, ask if there is anything that could be improved or changed to help you feel more connected. These practices help ensure that new hires feel seen, heard, and included from the start.
3. Don’t assume you can rely on the same communication standards.
The communication norms you created for a team working in person may not be correct when the team is dispersed. Take the time to create a new “agreement” regarding norms , communication expectations, and update frequency for the work-from-home team. Then, make these expectations clear to the new employee.
Part of what it means to create an inclusive remote team is making sure everyone has easy access to what’s going on and clear visibility into how their work connects to the larger goals of the team. With Asana, team members can find and access all of this information, even if they work different hours. And works. According to the Anatomy of Work: Remote Teams survey , nearly two-thirds (62%) of global workers are using collaboration software, messaging, and video conferencing tools more often now that they work from home. Additionally, nearly 25% of American workers are using collaboration tools for the first time.
Be open and transparent with new hires by asking them how they prefer to communicate, and make clear agreements about how you will work together. To cultivate trust from day one, we encourage managers to start by sharing their own vulnerability: Be honest about your current work-from-home experience and what your limits are. This creates a space for the new hire to feel safe opening up and talking about their experience, ultimately fostering a strong, long-term relationship between managers and their team.
4. Introduce the new teammate to different work communities
Joining a remote team can make a new employee feel isolated, and it can be difficult for them to connect with their team and the company as a whole. To make the transition as smooth and inclusive as possible, ask the new hire if they’d like to connect with any of the workplace communities or join any of the Employee Resource Groups.
In particular, pay attention to groups that may be disproportionately affected by working remotely. Underrepresented minorities, parents and team members who are in different time zones are experiencing additional challenges when it comes to working remotely, so taking the initiative to connect them with company communities early on is the best way to create an inclusive community and allow the new hire to be themselves.
Are you starting to work remotely? Here’s how to lay the groundwork for remote work success
1. Be clear about the limits and expectations
Today, the pace of our work and what constitutes a productive day has changed. According to the Anatomy of Work: Remote Teams survey , nearly 60% of global employees now work different hours, and nearly 80% of parents are homeschooling their children while managing work. This can be disorienting for new employees, especially those trying to balance added responsibilities at home, such as supporting their children’s distance learning.
As a new employee, be sure to ask what kind of flexibility your employer offers before you start, and how to best communicate your availability when working from home. Start by asking Human Resources first, then discuss any additional details with your manager.
At Asana, we encourage all employees to mark on their calendars when they will be available and unavailable, when they need to take a break for the sake of their mental health, and any time off that is already regularly scheduled. Being clear is being kind, and it’s important to remember that being home and working is not the same as spending days on vacation.
2. Join different communities in your company
If available, ask your manager what common interest groups exist at your new company. For example, there may be an Employee Resource Group that offers regular chats or internal channels focused on activities you enjoy, such as baking bread, yoga, movies, or music. See if you can connect with these groups, so you can get involved and meet new people from across the company.
When you’re new, they cover you with new information. You may find it difficult to explore and learn about the new company as well as trying to find your communities while working remotely. If you’re unsure about opportunities or ways you can get involved, schedule a time to discuss it with your manager or teammate during your first week. It’s much more difficult to opt in to activities and gatherings when they’re not in person, so being proactive about seeking out and asking about them is key.
Finding communities you love in your new workplace is more important than ever for remote workers. If you’re having trouble connecting with an entire community, try reaching out to a person or team member you already know and ask for help setting up a conversation over lunch or coffee.
Join the team!
We are still hiring, and onboarding new employees, remotely. Take a look at our vacancies and apply today.