How to Onboard Employees When You’re Working Remotely

Posted by Ryan Frazier

The past few weeks have marked a significant shift in the way businesses operate. As the coronavirus epidemic continues to spread around the world, remote work has become the new normal and companies across every industry are doing their best to adapt to the changing landscape. This includes finding new ways to recruit and onboard employees while working remotely, something most companies hadn’t encountered until just a few weeks ago.

While onboarding employees remotely can have its share of challenges, the right tools and processes can make it easier for employees to adapt to their new roles and feel like part of the team. Here’s how to make remote onboarding work for your company and help new hires feel at home. 

Develop a solid onboarding strategy
Having an onboarding strategy in place is always important, and it’s especially important when you’re not able to meet new hires face to face. In fact, studies have found that 69% of employees are likely to stay with a company for three years if they experience great onboarding and organizations that have a structured onboarding process tend to experience 50% higher productivity. 

To ensure that your new hires have the training and resources they need to feel comfortable, create a structured program that takes into account everything team members need to learn to be effective in their roles. This should include one-on-one meetings with managers, a virtual orientation session with your HR team and specific training for programs and processes. This is a good way to set new hires up for success while giving them the chance to ask questions and learn more about your organization.

Pro Tip: While it may be tempting to add more activities to your onboarding process since you’re working remotely, keeping things simple can be more effective and less overwhelming. A good rule of thumb is to include a mix of essential training and get-to-know-you meetings for the first two weeks, giving your new hires plenty of time to get acclimated. 

Ensure that new hires can connect with different teams
In addition to setting up meetings with managers and other team members, introducing new hires to employees from across the organization can be a great way to help them understand how teams work cross-functionally and how they may be able to add value beyond their roles. Virtual “happy hours” or “coffee chats” can be an effective way to do this, keeping things fun and informal while offering all the benefits of an in-person meeting. 

Pro Tip: Partnering new hires with veteran team members can be a helpful way to overcome the challenges of remote onboarding. In addition to offering more one-on-one attention, it can be a good way to forge strong connections even without in-person meetings.

Use digital tools to help promote your company culture
As we all become more adept at working remotely, digital platforms can be a great way to promote company culture during the onboarding process. This can be as simple as creating a Slack channel for new hires where they can get to know each other and other members of the team, and it can also extend to things like virtual spirit days or even a weekly trivia night. The most important thing is to find ways to showcase your culture that resonate with team members in a virtual environment. 

Pro Tip: Don’t be afraid to get creative. If there are things your team is used to doing in an offline setting, try to think of a virtual equivalent that you can implement. For example, if you have a regular team lunch every week when you’re in the office, come up with a digital equivalent and use it as an opportunity to introduce new hires to the team. 

While onboarding remotely can be challenging, a little creativity and the right tools can go a long way toward giving your employees the training they need to be successful. By taking these steps, you’ll be able to create an effective remote onboarding process and make your new hires feel like a part of the team.

Want to learn more about recruiting during this challenging time? Learn how digital interviews can help you keep your recruiting on track and the state of work during the COVID-19 epidemic.

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