January 24th, 2018 | Debbie Lamb, Sterling Talent Solutions
Tips for Onboarding Remote New Hires
With today’s technology, the workforce is becoming increasingly remote, but in a good way! New technologies and changing family demographics are fueling the growth in the remote workforce. A 2017 report from Global Workplace Analytics and Flex Jobs found that 3.9 million U.S. employees, or 2.9 percent of the total U.S. workforce, work from home at least half of the time. The US government has the largest percentage of telecommuters at 3.1%. Remote working is growing at a 20% clip in a variety of industries including real estate and mortgage, human resources, recruiting, accounting and finance. Employers in the Northeast-particularly New England and Mid-Atlantic regions- are most likely to offer flexible workplace options. In fact, the report found that in more than half of the top US metro markets, telecommuting exceeds public transportation as the commute option of choice.
Onboarding a Remote Employee
When a new employee starts, it is important to have an onboarding program in place. Onboarding tells a cohesive, compelling employer brand story. It engages and socializes your new hires from the moment they receive their offer letter. This process lays the groundwork so that your new employees can become productive, successful team members for the long haul even if the employee works remotely. Onboarding could be considered the final stage of the hiring process. But it goes beyond the first day on the job; it continues throughout the time the new employee works for the company. The majority of this stage takes place during a new employee’s first 90 days. In fact, this is the time when the employee is the most productive. According to UrbanBound, organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 54% greater new hire productivity.
Tips for Onboarding Remote Employees
With the addition of technology into both the workforce and onboarding programs, it is becoming increasingly easy to hire employees across the globe. However, onboarding remote employees can be a challenge. Remote employees don’t have the advantage of having the in-person touch on their first day, which could make it hard to acclimate to the company culture. If possible, have the new hire come to the main office for their first week so they can meet their team and get an understanding of the culture.
When onboarding remote employees, these tactics could be helpful:
- Face-to-Face Meeting: If the time and resources allow, bring the new employee to the headquarters for their first week of orientation. If not, use video connection applications so the new hire can “meet” their co-workers and have a face to put with a name. Remote workers should be included in team meetings to help them create personal bonds and make them feel more comfortable with their new team.
- Refine the Onboarding Process: Review the impact and results of your remote onboarding process. Document and evaluate the way both existing and new employees reacted to the onboarding process. Consult with other remote employees to see if they had similar experiences.
- Set Clear Expectations: Clearly communicate expectations, company values and individual goals to the new employee before they start work. Discuss projects, skill-sets, responsibilities and create a schedule for availability to attend virtual meetings. Just like with any other onboarding program, set up expectations and goals for the new employee. Implement a 30/60/90-day plan to outline training and integration of the new hire.
- Make New Hires Feel Welcome: Appoint a team “buddy” for the new employee. This co-worker will mentor the new employee on the company culture, team structure and information flow. Remote employees who feel a connection with the team or the company will be more motivated to make a positive impression.
- Easier Communication: With Facetime, Skype, Slack and other instant messaging tools, a remote employee can be connected to a team member in an instant. These tools are excellent for remote employees to virtually “meet” team members and do more than just put a face to a name.
Completing Remote Employee New Hire Forms
One of the most important parts of the onboarding process is completing new hire forms. Employers are responsible for following local, state and federal regulations when providing paperwork to new hires. Before the employee starts work and receives their first paycheck, some forms are required to be completed by the new hire. These forms must be completed by every employee, local or remote, per state and federal laws.
One of the forms that is required by the US government is the Form I-9. The purpose of Form I-9 is to verify the employment eligibility of the new hire. Employers are required by law to follow specific procedures for completing Form I-9 and they face both civil and criminal penalties if the document is not completed properly or they knowingly employ unauthorized workers.
It is critical to follow the instructions for filling out Form I-9 completely and on-time to be compliant with USCIS regulations, especially the requirement for Section 2 to be completed in person by an authorized employer representative. The necessity of ensuring a company representative meets with the new hire in person to physically review their Form I-9 identification documents provides a challenge to employers hiring remote workers. Employers may delegate the authority to complete the form to a responsible agent. However, the employer will retain liability for any errors. This would apply to all employees, but especially for those who work remotely and cannot physically visit the office to finalize the validation of the form. When the remote workers are unable to complete their Form I-9 on site with their direct employer. Employers should make sure that their remote workers have a level of trust with those who will verify the information for Section 2 of the Form I-9.
Sterling I-9 Verifier Network
Sterling is excited to announce the launch of the I-9 Verifier Network. The SterlingONE I-9 Verifier Network solution is designed for remote completion of Form I-9 Section 2 by a partner network with locations in every state. The partner network provides the ability for remote or off-site employees to schedule a session at a partner location to complete Section 2 within a specified availability. Additionally, the SterlingONE solution automatically enforces format requirements for passport numbers, social security numbers, alien numbers, I-94 numbers and state driver’s license numbers, so that no required form information is missing or inaccurately formatted before submission. Completed Forms I-9 information and event history records for all Form I-9 actions taken are combined into a single, SterlingONE report that is securely stored online. The solution also includes built-in task reminders and notifications, document expiration reminders and notifications and the ability to add user entered notes to the I-9 event record.
When it comes to your local and remote Form I-9 and new hire form onboarding needs, Sterling is here to help. To find out best practices that still apply for Form I-9, you can listen to an OnDemand version of our latest Form I-9 compliance webinar, “Form I-9: Are You Sure You’re Compliant” webinar, at any time.
This publication is for informational purposes only and nothing contained in it should be construed as legal advice. We expressly disclaim any warranty or responsibility for damages arising out this information. We encourage you to consult with legal counsel regarding your specific needs. We do not undertake any duty to update previously posted materials.