Nov 10th 2020

How to successfully onboard remote workers during COVID-19

Every business has to master the art of effective hiring and onboarding to retain top talent. But in light of the recent pandemic, the working world is now operating almost entirely remotely. And this is unlikely to change completely. 

Post-pandemic, almost three-quarters of companies intend to shift at least part of their workforce to permanent remote work. This doesn’t include the thousands of businesses who already have fully remote teams. 

But what does this new remote way of life mean for onboarding new hires? 

Well, onboarding remote employees without the face-to-face element can prove tricky. You will need to step up your game and change your original onboarding process to operate under remote circumstances. 

Randy Wilkerson, Vice President of Recruitment at Global Edge Recruiting, says, “From their first day with your company, your new employee will need to feel like they are a part of the organisation.”

Here are 6 tricks for virtually onboarding new employees during a pandemic.

Send them a welcome package

Starting a new job is scary. They don’t know you or the team and when starting remotely, there is the added stress of feeling disconnected from the team. It is your job to make them feel welcomed and to instill a sense of excitement in starting a fresh adventure at your company. 

Viktorija Ramanuaskaite, Talent Acquisition Team Lead at Transfergo told us how they have tweaked their process so that they now start onboarding a bit earlier.

“When the person is hired, before actually starting, we give them access to what we call our information bank which gives a preview of what is to be expected and a little bit more about us.”

One way to do this is to send them a pre-onboarding package. Send them some snazzy company swag and a little welcome note to get them hyped about joining your team and what’s in store. 

Share important resources

It’s important for new hires to understand your company, its culture, and what is expected of them as employees. Create digital versions of your usual employee documents, including handbooks, policies, culture decks, or mission and vision statements. These can all be stored and shared in systems such as Google Drive or Dropbox

Dabbled much in the use of video? Well, this can be a great way to even step it up a notch and introduce them to your company with onboarding videos. All of these things together familiarise a new hire with your team and creates a greater personal connection.

Get their setup ready 

Working from home has its advantages. The commute is definitely shorter for one. But sometimes the setup isn’t as comfortable as the office and it’s your job to improve this for them.

Do they need a laptop, monitor, keyboard, or even a desk? Find out what exactly your new hire needs and be sure to order it in advance. Without the appropriate equipment to start their job, it can hinder the onboarding process and make life more stressful for them. 

And this includes their digital setup. Be sure to get them set up on all the necessary systems, communication channels, and introduce them to the tools they will be using. This includes creating an email or other vital business accounts, checking that everything is running smoothly.

Put a personalised onboarding plan in place

This is a big one. We have split this up into three separate categories.

Schedule their diary 

Joining a company remotely can leave new hires feeling out on a lurch and not really sure where they stand. Break down their onboarding process for them, highlighting what meetings they will have, who they will be with, and what the purpose is. Be sure to schedule this into their diaries so that they won’t miss a beat.

Devise a training plan 

New hires will be coming to grips with things and trying to learn on the spot. But without a solid training plan, they could fall to the wayside and fail to meet expectations. Have a firm plan ready to go to prevent this from happening when onboarding. 

Each training plan should be specific to them and the role at hand. Determine what the training priorities are – is it how to work with specific software or maybe they need a deeper dive into the company’s product. 

Remember, everyone learns differently. Make use of your remote platforms and a variety of training exercises to accommodate different learning styles, for example, 55% of employees turn to their peers when learning a new skill. The more engaged each new hire is, the more successful they will be within the team and the bigger impact they will have on your company. 

Set goals and expectations 

We all need something to work towards in life. And if your new hire understands what is expected of them from the get-go, then you’re both in for an easier ride. Not only will they have goals to strive towards keeping them motivated, but they will also feel their impact on the team right from the beginning. 

Instill your company culture in them 

This is probably the biggest obstacle when remote onboarding. How do you project your company culture through a screen? 

The best place to start is by meeting the team. We no longer live in the dark ages where communicating is done through email. We have the added bonus of video.

Video allows you to proactively schedule face-to-face meetings with someone from each team. Be sure to schedule some virtual events where they can get a feel for your company’s culture and start to put a face to the names of everyone in the business. 

At the same time as this, you should also clearly lay out your mission and values. This should be included in the important resources but you should also have this reinforced by your leaders when welcoming them. 

Check-in and get feedback 

Communicate, communicate, communicate. There is no excuse nowadays for having particular channels with which you use to stay in contact with your new hires. Whether it’s workspaces such as Slack or the odd Zoom meeting. Your new hire should never feel out in the cold. This does not mean micromanaging them, but it does mean a clear line of communication that ensures everyone knows what’s going on. 

This communication should also come in the form of feedback. There is always an opportunity to learn where you could improve for the next hire going forward. So, ask the new hires what could have gone better and what went well. It creates a sense of openness, honesty, and willingness to create a great working environment.

While this shift away from your traditional onboarding process may seem strange at first, it is necessary to adapt to ensure the success of your hire in the team. According to recent studies, great employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82% and boost productivity by more than 70%.

With good communication and strong connections, you can engage your new remote employees before they start and set them up to hit the ground running. 

Finding the best talent is the goal of every business. Check out how technology can improve your hiring process.