How to Onboard New Employees Remotely

The “new normal” has prompted many businesses to adapt quickly to working remotely. Almost every aspect of company operations have shifted online.  Much of team and colleague communication is happening in virtual meetings. And as organizations shift to hiring online and remote employees, what used to be in-person onboarding interactions and rounds of introductions are now being done virtually.

The Value of Onboarding

Employee onboarding enables new hires to have an overview of the work environment, its systems, processes, and culture. It helps them understand the scope of their role and the expectations that go with it. This process gives them an official impression of the organization and its people, and vice-versa.

Onboarding is highly essential in welcoming new employees. It gives them a solid view of the dynamics with other co-workers and the environment where they will work – all while being able to ask questions on the spot. It enables them to fast-track acclimation and become familiar with their roles. It also introduces them to the systems and processes of the organization, the equipment, various areas of the workplace, and many more.

But with the recent shift to online and remote communication, are organizations ready and well-equipped for a virtual approach?

Challenges of Onboarding Remotely

Despite the benefits of remote work, onboarding faces certain challenges when done virtually:

Less in-person interaction. With remote onboarding, in-person introductions are not possible. Especially with varying time zones and locations, scheduling meetings with relevant people may be challenging. And getting a full grasp of the company’s culture and dynamics may be tricky.

Less informal introductions. Less in-person interaction makes the onboarding process seem a little more relaxed. This may be a good thing, to help ease the new hire into the introductions. But losing face-to-face interactions may impact official introductions with key people. 

Information overload. Sapling reports that an average employee onboarding requires 54 activities. This is a lot! And going over too many tasks and materials at a time may discourage the new hire, could lead to an early turnover. Doing one too many tasks remotely can be challenging and dispiriting, given that guidance may not readily be available and accessible.

Overcoming the Challenges of Remote Onboarding

Streamline your onboarding activities. It is important to pick the most important and urgent ones in the next month or so. This will prevent an overwhelming onboarding process. It’s also worth considering their learning and development goals, motivations, and the nature of their work. Instead of focusing on the short-term, identify the key items based on what will satisfy the organization’s and new hires’ long-term objectives.

Ensure that there are enough online tools and support throughout the process. These may include – but not limited to – learning management systems, scheduling software, instant messaging platforms, internal communication portals, videoconferencing, FAQs, etc.

Schedule productive one-on-one meetings. Having communication with immediate manager/s from the get-go is critical. One-on-ones can be a valuable time to answer questions about training content or discuss the results of assessments done in your company’s LMS. According to a survey conducted by Enboarder, 72% of employees considered one-on-ones with their direct manager as the most important thing in onboarding. 

In The End

Onboarding remote employees is now something all companies are having to transition to.  Even though things have changed, onboarding remains a crucial part of the employee experience.  Companies should consider how to make their employees feel welcome, supported and prepared even though new hires may not be there in person.

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