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How to onboard remotely

How to onboard remotely

Posted on 1 July 2020 by Laura Mercer

One of the main objectives of onboarding is to help your new employee adjust to their new place of work, so that they succeed in their role and deliver for the business. Given most organisations are still operating remotely, creating a virtual onboarding process that accomplishes this objective, is a huge challenge for both the employer and employee. Remember that it can be hard for your new superstar to adjust to your company's culture and understand 'how things are done' at the organisation, when they have never physically met anyone nor their new place of work.

Here are our top tips to ensure your virtual onboarding is as successful as can be:

  • Separate your onboarding in to chunks - things to do before your new employee starts (welcome to the team email/ paperwork to fill out/ what to expect in their first week); items to cover during the first week (an introduction to relevant tools and software/ log ins and passwords/ work expectations/ meet the team); ongoing or intermittent tasks (checking in and regular video chats etc to make sure they feel like a valued member of the team).
  • Welcome on board email - this is really important because it's the first real glimpse of how organised/efficient and supportive your business is. It should be sent 1-2 weeks before they start and should include an itinerary for the first few weeks, with the first week broken down in to morning and afternoon chunks. This will give your new hire clarity around what to expect, when they first start. If you have a handbook, attach that to the email and make sure you state a point of contact for them to go to if they have any questions.
  • Provide a work buddy or mentor - this will help them to navigate through their first few months as well as providing a wealth of knowledge and understanding of your company values and ethos and aid in their professional growth and development within your business. Remember when you started at the business and had a question? Maybe you peered over your desk and asked the person next to you; or whilst you were making a cup of tea in the office kitchen. Right now, they can't do that.
  • Set up the tech - make sure that your new employee is set up to work remotely. Are you going to provide them with a work laptop and phone or will they need to source this themselves? It’s important to be clear on details like this from the outset. Have they got a suitable workspace and access to a reliable internet connection?
  • Use video conferencing to introduce your new hire to their new colleagues - just like you would walk them round the building and introduce them to the team, this can still be done, using video. It allows them to make eye contact, observe facial expressions and start to build relationships. Perhaps arrange a company quiz night at the end of their first week to provide an opportunity to get to know their new colleagues in a less formal manner.
  • How your business looks and operates - although working remotely now, that will eventually change for most in the near future. If you can show images or videos from inside your office, do so; prepare a virtual tour to give a sense of the company environment; it may help reduce feelings of isolation.
  • Set expectations before they start, so they have a clear picture of the company values, objectives, their role and goals - talk through their probation period and setting a review and milestones to achieve. Are they comfortable with the systems you use? Are they clear on their role within the business? Discuss any upcoming projects, plans, socials etc.
  • Go out of your way to make them feel welcome - it's a challenging and nervous time joining a new business regardless, let alone when you're joining remotely. If your new hire feels a connection with your company, they will be more motivated to make a positive impression. Look after them. Keep feeding back on their performance over their probation period. It's still there to function in the same way as it ordinarily would, however you may need to re-set some expectations or make allowances around certain elements of the role, given the unusual remote set up.
  • Keep reviewing and refining your onboarding process and make sure it's repeatable by documenting it - it should be a to do list and shared with your new team member so you're both on the same page. Ask those that have been in the position for a while, their thoughts and feedback. By constantly evaluating and improving the process, you can ensure all your new starters adjusts to their new roles well and are well placed to hit the ground running.
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