April Shepherd - Director Insights, Employer Resources

The 2020 Guide to a Successful Remote Onboarding Process

If your business is lucky enough to be thriving and hiring new talent at this time, congratulations! Now onto the next challenge: how you remotely onboard each and every person will be the key to creating a lasting, productive, and thriving team member. 
Onboarding is a bit like a relationship, nevertheless remote onboarding. Put in the effort, make lasting impressions, and stay committed to making it work. In this article, we’ve mapped out the journey for you and added tips from our own experience and clients to make sure your talent is getting the best remote onboarding experience!
The Chase 

First and foremost – ensure the new joiner is properly equipped to do their job prior to their start date. This includes all needed tech is delivered on time, setting up with the company email, logging in to whichever platforms you’re using. 

Some questions to ask yourself: Does the employee know what their first day will look like? Is it a company tradition to have lunch on an employee’s first day? Can we make that virtual?

The First Date 

The time has come! To to be successful at creating a successful onboarding journey, everyone needs to be committed to spend time and effort. Make sure your HR or talent team and each respective department know how they’re contributing to the overall experience. 

This is the trickier piece –  like choosing the time and place to impress your first date, make sure there is a proper schedule planned out for the first week of the new joiner. It would be best if all employees and teams have at least one touchpoint with the newbie, even if time-constraints forces it to be a company-wide Zoom call. Ideally, it is encouraging for there to be 1:1 sessions and groups with various moderators across levels and departments. Kind of like the “typical” office environment, new talent feels more comfortable when they get lots of face time to chat, grab a cuppa (perhaps, virtually?), or bounce suggestions and ask questions to those they see around the office. Ultimately, because there is less chance for this ‘organic face-time’, there need to be real planned sessions on the strategy, vision, services, and know-how of the organisation chart. Don’t forget the details - the schedule should be provided before joining, along with all conferencing details and diary invites to avoid the stress of missing a booked session.

Questions to ask: Who does what and who? What frustrations do new employees usually face? How can we address that as soon as possible? 

The Dating Game – the Exciting Stuff 

We’ve spoken about the basics, but how can you make it a genuine experience, make them feel welcome, and even have a little fun doing it? It is expected that newly onboarded employees can and will feel a little lost at times, be afraid to speak out, or not fully feel a part of the team - now imagine that virtually! Face time is key, the more the better.

We recommend the Buddy System. It’s a great way to create an almost immediate sense of camaraderie if done correctly. You’ll need to nominate or have someone volunteer themselves internally to be the new joiner’s ‘Buddy’ - checking in with them periodically, have casual catch-ups with, and ultimately be that in-office friend that will be the to-go person the new joiner can confide in and learn from. If you have had another virtually onboarded employee or a new-ish joiner recently, they would be an ideal buddy, understanding first-hand the pain points and the steps needed to bypass first week jitters or ‘newbie’ awkwardness.

At the end of the day, the onboarded employee will need extra effort to make them feel welcome. Some creative ideas we’ve witnessed includes: a ‘Welcome to the Team’ message on relevant social media channels to publicly introduce them to your network, a surprise delivery scheduled to arrive on a company-wide call (a fancy bottled cocktail, a small gift, or a sweet treat — anything that is exciting or shows appreciation and thoughtfulness). 

Empowerment comes with the ability to ask questions, create solutions, channel ideas off others, and collaborate. Even if they’re not at a senior level, be sure to keep them involved in business and strategy sessions, office plans, or anything that they would usually catch wind in the typical office environment. If they are entering in a junior position, perhaps introduce them to facets of the organization that might not be completely a part of their job scope, this will ultimately enable them to better understand the company and feel included in their day today.

After the Honeymoon Period

Alright, the new joiner is smiling, the days are going smooth – but wait, before we company-wide high-five (through Zoom, obviously) – the journey isn’t over. Onboarding is a continuous, cyclical process that requires a lot of attention.

Think back to stage one – ensure they are fully in-tune with organization, know their role well, feel comfortable reaching out, and are genuinely a part of the team. Check in with them and perhaps introduce additional internal or external training or seminars to up-level their understanding and learning. It also might be a good idea to chat with the selected Buddy and the joiner’s direct manager for their thoughts on how the process is going and the next step to focus on.

Happily Ever After

Onboarding can be fun, educational, and truly create a positive lasting experience where first impressions last – especially when onboarding virtually. The extra effort put in at the start will create an efficient, happy, and ultimately thriving part of your office, culture, and company success.  

A few last tips to remember when planning a successful onboarding journey:

1. First impressions are everything!

2. All employees are a part of the journey

3. Create a foolproof schedule – more structure the better at first

4. High touch approach – ensure they are comfortable and being heard (ask for feedback on their side, as well!)

5. It's a never-ending journey, but enjoy the ride :)