How To Manage Onboarding Across Time Zones


Many businesses are expanding into new markets, and as a result, they have to onboard employees in different time zones. This can be difficult for HR professionals and their managers who need to create a streamlined process that will work remotely.

Managing remote onboarding across time zones can be a little tricky. It is essential to know what you’re doing and how best to do it to get the most out of this process for your company. It begins with the right employee  onboarding software and continues with the best methods for onboarding new staff.

Onboarding is a vital part of the employee experience. It helps new employees feel welcome and familiarizes them with their new company culture. However, it is not always simple to onboard employees in different time zones, especially when you are on a tight deadline.

In today’s post, we share some insights on how HR professionals can successfully manage onboarding across multiple time zones. These six tips will help you make the process smooth from start to finish.

What Is Remote Onboarding?

Remote onboarding is an innovative approach to incorporating a new employee into the company. With the right tools, employees should feel familiar with your company’s culture from their home. This also enables employees to become more effective when starting with your company and contributing productively without feeling left out.

A good onboarding process should be comfortable and safe for new team members, no matter where they’re located.

New hires are always nervous on their first day, and it is often hard to find the words for what they are feeling. Luckily, there is a way around this nerve-racking experience: remote onboarding! Remote onboarding can be done from anywhere with internet access through online tools such as Skype or Zoom. All that is needed is an internet connection and a webcam or computer microphone. Technology has eliminated many barriers in communication today, so why not use it?

Companies should take care of new hires from the moment they join the organization. Remote onboarding programs are a great way to do this. They provide people with all necessary information about your company and connect them with their workplace before ever meeting someone face-to-face.

Remote onboarding programs will:

  • Help employees understand their duties and obligations.
  • Get them familiar with the systems they will be using to do their work.
  • Teach new employees about company policies, procedures, and office culture.
  • Allow them to meet their co-workers.
  • Make them feel welcome.

6 Tips On How To Manage Onboarding Across Time Zones

The first step in managing a remote newcomer’s onboarding is taking into account their location and culture. Also, you must consider local customs that may affect them as they go through this transition period.

Successful onboarding is a team effort. You can set up your new employee to succeed by coordinating with their daily schedule. Here are some tips on how you can manage the process across time zones:

1. Understand What Time Zone You Are Working With

Before you schedule any meetings, take a deep breath and plot out which time zones you need to be cognizant of. In a remote world, we can’t expect east coast people to follow west coast time just because the company is headquartered there. If you want to be a truly remote company, you have to understand the constraints of time zones and factor them into your company’s onboarding program.

It’s essential to factor in time zone differences with remote employees so that your schedule runs smoothly. If you are struggling with picturing time zones, consider using the world clock feature on Google Calendar. With Google Calendar, you can set up all the time zones your employees are located in using the world clock feature. When you set up a meeting, Google lets you know what time that meeting would be across the time zones you added. This quick tool can help you easily convert times and make sure that every onboarding meeting you host is convenient if possible.


2. Record Sessions To Create Asynchronous Onboarding Experiences

If you want to improve your remote onboarding experience, you need to create some efficiency gains for your organization.

One way to overcome time zone differences is to record videos and upload them to a cloud service like Google Drive/Dropbox or a learning service. With asynchronous videos, you have something interactive for new employees even when you’re not physically present for onboarding. The options are endless. You could make an introductory video or provide instructional videos on using the various software programs employed in-house.

You must have the right level of experience to record and produce videos. Some companies hire professional voice actors or virtual assistants for this task. Others rely on their workforce members with appropriate levels of expertise in these areas.

If you do not have someone capable of performing this function, it might be better to hire an outside specialist instead. This will save time and money since they know what needs to go into creating good-quality videos.

Asynchronous onboarding can feel strange, but the more work remote employees can do on their own time, the better.

3. Focus Synchronous Meetings During The Middle Of The Day

If possible, scheduling synchronous meetings during the middle of the day ensures those who need to attend can do so without it being too early or too late for them. Also, mid-day meetings are more effective for most employees, as they are less distracting and can still leave them with enough time to complete unfinished work.

While virtual onboarding is a great way to connect with new hires, it can cause onboarding Zoom fatigue. Make sure that you don’t rely too heavily on synchronous onboarding. You can definitely check in on employees and host real-time meetings daily, but remote employees will spend a lot of time working alone. Their onboarding experience shouldn’t be drastically different from their typical work experience.

4. Take Breaks Throughout The Day

Attention spans are often limited to 50 minutes, but with breaks, employees can reset their attention. Breaks will help the meeting be more productive and enjoyable for everyone.

Because attention is an increasingly scarce resource for many, you need to ensure that sufficient breaks are offered. This helps prevent employees from getting distracted by other things going on around them. If you want the onboarding process to run smoothly along different time zones, allow staff to take breaks. Add breaks to your daily schedule so that employees can work around them.

No one has an infinite attention span. Our brains work more efficiently with rest. The challenge of focusing for too long on something specific is why experts recommend giving employees a short five-minute mini-break to help the onboarding process.


5. Read The Room

All of us have an instinct to read the room. We can even do this from different time zones, as long as we can see the people we are speaking with. It is something we do without thinking about it.

One way people use body language when reading the environment is through gestures. These gestures include crossing their arms or tapping their fingers impatiently. It’s a good idea to pay attention to these non-verbal cues, even during video chats. Non-verbal cues can tell you how each employee is receiving the onboarding process.

If you notice that your employee’s minds are elsewhere, take some time to acknowledge the situation and get employees involved or take an impromptu break. Remote onboarding is a bit of an experiment, especially if you are not used to it. If your employees are having trouble focusing, don’t be afraid to take an early break or use a fun virtual onboarding icebreaker to lighten the mood.

6. Use Feedback To Create A Better Experience Next Time

You can always improve your current employee onboarding process. One simple way to do this is to ask for employee feedback during the onboarding experience. You can send out short surveys after each day of onboarding or create one long survey for the end of the experience.

Ask questions you want to know:

  • What was their favorite onboarding activity? What about least favorite?
  • How did your new hires feel after their onboarding experience?
  • What do they wish they had spent more time on? What about less time on?
  • Did they feel like they had all the tools to be successful with the organization?
  • After the onboarding experience, did they feel like they got to know their new colleagues?

After you get feedback from employees, utilize that knowledge to make the next onboarding process run smoother. Continue to ask for and implement the feedback you get from each onboarding class, even if you feel like you’ve gotten the experience down to a tee. You’ll never please every new employee, but it’s important to keep an open mind.

Create A Remote Onboarding Experience No Matter The Time Zone

We all know that one of the most challenging parts of working remotely is adjusting to different time zones. This creates difficulty when coordinating meetings or calls with people in other states or countries, making it tricky for remote workers. Luckily, there is an easy way around this problem.

Tools like Slack and Zoom make communicating across time zones easier than ever before. Furthermore, you can create documents and invest in company wikis to create an archive of information for new employees.

Keep remote onboarding best practices top of mind and connect with your team to talk about how you will handle this experience going forward. Onboarding across time zones isn’t as challenging as you think.