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Guide: How to create a successful remote onboarding process

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With hybrid and remote working, the world of work looks dramatically different to the one we knew at the beginning of 2020.

Onboarding new hires, particularly post-pandemic, has been identified as a core ‘win or lose moment’ when it comes to reducing staff attrition. Those who get it right can not only increase employee wellbeing and harmony, but crucially cost efficiency too.

A successful onboarding process looks like this:

  • Your new starter feels welcome as part of their new team and wider company;
  • They know the ins and outs of their role;
  • They have been introduced to all members of your team and key people in the company;
  • They are aware of their career journey and how to reach goals;
  • They know who and how to approach any issues or problems which may arise during their
    employment;
  • And finally, they can start becoming an economically sound member of the team.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider but even more to consider when it comes to tailoring this process to a remote working environment.

Although there is a huge need for companies to have this plan clear and set out for compliance reasons, it’s important to think about your new starter and put their needs and wants first; how are they going to feel and how do you want them to feel as part of your onboarding process? How can you ensure that they stay with your company after starting their new role?

Virtual onboarding can be a challenge compared to traditional processes but there are ways of making this as welcoming as possible. To help with this journey, we’ve created a guide with tips and tricks on how you can successfully onboard a remote employee.

As a guide, this is generic, so there will be some tweaks which will need to be tailored to your company and the type of role they are starting but this could be great for you to follow and get started. It’s suggested that the onboarding process should last around three months, sometimes even more, so we’ve broken down this guide into a few different stages…

 

After the offer has been accepted and before your new starter begins

The onboarding process starts straight away, before your employee’s first day, so it’s important that you stay in touch from the get-go, here are some points to consider:

Paperwork

It’s best to collate all of this information and send it out the door as soon as possible. This includes contracts and forms that need to be completed as soon as the offer has been accepted. Make sure your new starter has enough time to complete these or flag any feedback before they are due to start. You should also include your employee handbook with this and a remote working policy so your new starter has a clear overview of your company and processes.

Equipment

If you’re onboarding a new starter, this doesn’t mean sending equipment to them on their first day; this should be sent way in advance. This includes a laptop, desktop, phone (if required) plus any extra stationery or equipment that they will require for their day-to-day job. You should also send over any logins and set up information in advance. This will help your new starter to feel at ease before their first day, and so they have the opportunity to set this up beforehand, rather than rushing.

If you have any branded stationary or goods, it’s a good idea to send a welcome pack to your new employee before their first day. It may seem like a small gesture but it will help them to feel welcome and part of your company; this could include little bits to add to their home office such as notebooks, pens and mugs.

Phone calls and added value communication from Manager(s)

Make sure you check in with your new starter at least once before they start to have a casual welcoming call and to say hello. This is a great opportunity for you to explain your plans for their first week and check that they have everything they need to begin their new role. Obviously, if your new starter is still working somewhere else in the run-up to starting their new role, you will have to schedule this around them but this is super important so they are aware of their onboarding process before they have even become a full member of your team.

Following on from this communication, you should send a document with a brief overview of what their first week, month and three months will look like at your company. This is so there is a clear plan in place about what needs to be done and what your new starter will be reaching towards during their first quarter. If there are any team events that you could invite them to prior to starting, then see if they can be involved. All of this helps to make the first day easier, but also goes a long way to making a new starter feel valued and excited for their new journey.

 

Your new starter’s first week

Day 1

A great way to set off your new starter’s journey at your company is by setting up a virtual coffee and chat. This would be like a ‘welcome call’ so it gives you and your new starter the opportunity to discuss their plan and goals moving forward and set clear, early objectives. If you have a presentation with any extra information, that’s even better! For example, make sure you go through your team’s processes; how you work together, who’s best to contact for what, the company’s future plans and what a usual day looks like at your company.

It’s best to set aside a good amount of time to discuss their new journey with them so they are comfortable from the get-go. Think about what you would usually discuss when they walk into the office doors on their first day and how you can replicate that from their home office.

As well as an in-depth chat with their manager, you should introduce the rest of the team. Start with an email, introducing the new starter and share some basic information about them so they can actively welcome them to the team. Encourage your colleagues to reach out and set up video calls to say hi and virtual coffee catch ups in the future. This is a great opportunity for them to get to know each other, particularly with team members who your new starter will be working closely with.

Lastly, consider assigning your new starter a ‘buddy’. This can be someone from your team who they will be working a lot with and someone who has been at your company for a little while who can help your new colleague settle in, introduce team dynamics and discuss any questions they may have.

Week 1

During the first week, it’s best to focus on introductions; these aren’t just introductions to team members but also to systems and processes. Once your new starter has their set-up and logins ready to go, you should start to assign them small tasks to complete around any meetings and video team introductions. This could come in the form of a checklist, so you and your new starter have something to review and know what should be done during their first few weeks.

This is a chance for them to become familiar with the systems and flag any issues if they have them straight away. Small tasks are also great for your colleague to have something to concentrate and accomplish whilst in-between video calls so they aren’t overwhelmed with lots of meetings.

Throughout the week, it may be worthwhile to have some small check-in sessions to see how your new colleague is doing and finding their role. If you can, schedule in a long de-brief/catch up at the end of the week so you can gather feedback and address any problems that may have come up.

Make sure your new starter is aware how it’s best to communicate with you and their buddy throughout the week, plus any other team members, for example; instant messaging platforms, texts, video calls etc.

 

The first three months at your company

As the average onboarding process takes around 90 days, it’s important that the efforts are maintained even after your new colleague’s first few weeks. A good way to continue the onboarding process is by having regular feedback and catch up sessions. It’s best to schedule these in the diary in advance, so you both have time set aside in your week to meet consistently.

If you continue to build and set a few simple goals and tasks, these are great points to discuss during these catch-up sessions. This will help your colleague to be embedded into your team and their role and know what it is expected. Their progress can then be reviewed on a monthly basis until their probation time is done, depending on your company processes.

Virtual coffee catch ups are also key as these can substitute any ‘water cooler’ chats that your new starter may miss out on whilst not being in the office. Continue to encourage your team to interact with your new team member so they feel welcome and in-contact with each other.

 

You’re ready to go…

As mentioned before, these tips should be tailored to your individual company’s processes and the role your new colleague is starting but this is a good list to start from. It’s important to put your new starter first, put yourself in their shoes and think about what would make them feel welcome as part of your team and what they need to know.

Try and make this process as memorable as possible. See if you have the opportunity to organise any non-work related events during this onboarding time that your new starter can get involved in. For example, virtual after-work drinks or lunch time yoga, as this will help them to create working relationships and get to know your team. The more unique, the better!

What does a good remote onboarding process look like to you? Have we missed anything? Let us know your thoughts at [email protected]

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