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It’s not easy to find the right people for your small business. Our 2013 Plantronics survey on hiring found that among small business owners, 44 percent indicated that attracting and hiring quality talent is the number HR/labor challenge. That’s why many (64 percent of them) are offering flexible, mobile and remote working arrangements to attract employees who have the right skill set as well as team spirit, positive attitude and self-directions to succeed.

When working with remote employees, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your usual employee onboarding process. The more that remote employees feel they are part of your small business, the better the morale. And research shows that the happier employees are, the greater their productivity.

To make sure that your remote employees get off to the right start and stay that way, here are some tips for a successful onboarding process:

Technology-enable your remote team

Getting communication off to the right start is very important when employees come on board under any circumstance and doubly important when employees are not working in the same location.

HiringThing, a recruitment management software company, suggests that you give remote employees face time with video conferencing tools – and provide a headset, either wired or wireless, for audio clarity. As part of the initial video conferencing meetings, introduce remote employees to key players on your team, such as IT and HR, and others who they will be dealing with on an ongoing basis. Continue to schedule regular video conferences.

Instant messaging and chat are other technologies that help employees speed up communication with others in the office.

Take things in stages

Remote workers don’t have the benefit of immediate feedback as they undertake new responsibilities and tasks. Depending on their job requirements, it may be best to introduce responsibilities in stages, called scaffolding by Tracy Brisson, founder and CEO of the Opportunities Project. With scaffolding, you break up work into building blocks and teach them in chunks. Once employees demonstrate they’ve mastered one responsibility or task, proceed with training for the next one.

Evaluate and refine

Even with a process in place for onboarding remote employees, don’t assume everything will go well. Periodically evaluate how things are going to ensure you are achieving the desired results — having engaged remote employees who understand their job, are productive and communicate effectively with you and the rest of the team.

Be upfront with your remote team about expectations, and get their feedback. Employees may be dissatisfied but hesitant to speak up. Whether there are issues with the technology being used, the frequency of conferencing, or the responsiveness of team members to each other, make whatever necessary changes to ensure that remote workers get the support they need.

If you are still wondering about flexible working for your small business, read How to Implement Flexible Working.


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