Top Tips for Remote Onboarding
At the moment, it seems like we are constantly having to adjust our ways of working to find a new normal. Whilst some of these changes may be temporary, others could be permanent and many of us could end up working from home for a lot longer than what we thought. Though many of us have adapted to working from home, onboarding from home presents a new challenge: how can we make new starters feel like part of the family without the office hubbub, coffee corner conversations and lunchroom camaraderie? Restrictions are easing and, hopefully, we won’t be working from home for much longer. In the meantime, here are our top tips for remote onboarding.
It’s beneficial to have all of your onboarding materials in a digital format, from offer letters and contracts to training manuals and videos. Putting together a virtual welcome pack offers a fantastic opportunity to provide all of the documentation for your onboarding process, your staff handbook and company values. You could include a personalised welcome video, a virtual office tour or a diagram of your company structure; anything that is going to give a new starter a better insight as to how your organisation looks and operates. Though it may be that you want to provide these documents physically further down the line, sending them ahead digitally will allow new starters to review and revise these documents at their own pace and refer back to them when needed.
Physical Equipment and IT Support
At the moment, most couriers are taking a little longer than usual, so it’s in your best interest to get their equipment sent out as soon as possible, to ensure that they have everything need ahead of starting. In addition to securely emailing over their log in details, be sure to provide new starters with the contact information of your IT support function so that they can set up stress-free.
Virtual Team Integration
Utilise tech to familiarise new starters with their team and different areas of the business. In the absence of physical presence, a video call is the next best thing. Interpersonal communication is key to building relationships, and video calls allow us to make eye contact and observe body language. Has your company considered peer-to-peer mentoring? Peer mentorship is invaluable to new starters as it offers them a ‘go-to’ person to throw questions at and obtain insider knowledge of systems and processes from. It also offers the mentor an opportunity to develop and refine their communication and leadership skills.
Chat, instant messengers, calls, video calls, emails… it’s no secret that communication is the key to successful onboarding, whether it's remote or not. Every new starter should have regularly scheduled catchups with their team and line managers, but the benefits of offering a platform to communicate with the wider business are often overlooked. The best way to make sure that a new starter feels like part of the family is to make sure they are included in the companywide antics: WhatsApp groups, biweekly video briefings, virtual beers on a Friday afternoon, get them involved!
It is also important to clearly communicate your expectations of a new starter regarding projects, workflow and duties before they start. Give expected time frames for the completion of work and/or training. If a new starter has a clear picture of their duties and what’s expected of them, they will be able to meet and exceed those expectations sooner.
Review and Refine
Constantly evaluate and refine your onboarding process. How successful is your remote onboarding process? What’s working, what’s not and why not? The best way to answer these questions is to ask your most recent hires. Not only will this improve the process for your next new starter, but it also shows relatively new employees that you care, that their opinion matters and that you welcome constructive criticism in order to streamline your processes.
Bonus: Send a branded goodie bag
Some office stationery, a branded tote, or some sweet treats will always go down favourably. It’s not a necessity, but it’s a nice touch.
A smooth onboarding will positively improve employee satisfaction and performance. Happy new starters, who have been made to feel welcome, will be better motivated to work hard and make a good impression. What has your company done to welcome remote new starters? I would be interested to know in the comments.