Life at work will not return to the pre-COVID-19 world we're used to having.
Gone were the days of fully packed conference halls for quarterly town halls and for those who are permanently working from home, gone were the days of face-to-face water cooler conversations with colleagues in the office.
With remote working becoming the ultimate norm, how do we inject the working culture employees are so fond of into the virtual space and integrate new hires into both the formal and informal work culture of a particular organisation?
Here's where remote onboarding or virtual onboarding comes in.
In this article, we round up 18 virtual onboarding tips.
18 Remote Onboarding Best Practices
1. Focus on the Pre-boarding
Pre-boarding is a critical step in a great onboarding process. Here's how you can make use of it!
Ensure that new hires get what they need before their official first day. Perhaps send a welcome pack shipped directly to their homes as a start.
2. Create a "Getting Started" Checklist
Create tasks new hires can do independently to give them control over their onboarding and lighten your load!
Encourage new hires to drive their own onboarding process. Get them to work on tasks like what they need to download and whom they need to schedule meetings with.
3. Build and Mix Content
We all know just how tiring Zoom meetings can be. Why not adjust training approaches for virtual onboarding?
Add more details during each session and mix up the content format. Incorporate training with chats, phone calls, on-demand videos, PDFs and corporate podcasts!
4. Touch Base and Connect Often
In a virtual setting, there's no such thing as over-communication. Without guidance, a new job and all its uncertainties can be daunting.
Stay connected through chat, email and video. Set a schedule so that new hires touch base from at least one to two persons (i.e. hiring manager, training buddy, cultural ambassador) each day!
5. Gather Employee Feedback
Employee feedback is crucial for designing and executing great HR programs.
Opt to gather employee feedback during, before or after their virtual onboarding experience. It'll allow you to fine-tune your onboarding experience based on recruits' feedback.
New hire surveys help companies learn what they've done well in the early employee experience and where they could improve on.
6. Build Employee Autonomy
With remote working, we can’t always keep an eye on what people are doing—and that’s okay.
There has to be a real element of trust between people managers and their remote employees.
Be open to change the team dynamic on your new recruits' arrival. Give new hires the autonomy to own their work. Trusting their abilities also builds new hires' confidence.
7. Help Them Meet Their Co-Workers
Virtual onboarding is the new normal, but it doesn't have to be hard.
Start a conference video call to introduce new employees to the team. Lacking time? Make it fun by organising remote team welcome lunches.
8. The Grand Entrance Announcement
How do we ensure new hires get a sense of the work culture and feel welcomed in a remote working environment? Presenting "The Grand Entrance Announcement".
It's critical to make new hires feel welcomed. Start a welcome thread on the employee forum, compose a team announcement on Microsoft Teams or introduce them during virtual quarterly town halls.
9. Spread Virtual Onboarding Over Several Days
A one-day full onboarding process can be ineffective and overwhelming. Why not spread it across several days?
Spreading onboarding across five days provides a natural structure for new hires as they can familiarise themselves with the organisation.
10. Prioritise the Human Connection
How do we maintain a physical/human connection without the on-site welcome lunches and day-to-day humdrum of face to face work?
Going digital does not mean losing sight of physical interaction! Build this by mailing welcome cards, employee benefit brochures and other documents to maintain that connection!
11. Leverage on Well-Being Platforms
Create a positive virtual onboarding experience by leveraging digital well-being programs.
Well-being platforms are great for communication tools. They can be used to reinforce the company culture. Promote well-being programs that can be used for virtual team buildings too.
12. Utilise Mobile Technology
Leverage on mobile technology to provide hassle-free virtual onboarding experience.
Whether that's launching an onboarding app or creating a mobile-first chat-based onboarding platform, mobile technology allows new remote staff to complete their hire orientation process anytime, anywhere.
13. Set Your Non-Negotiables
Has your remote team defined ground rules while working from home?
Establishing ground rules, especially about collaboration, can reduce assumptions and give a clear set of expectations for members of the remote team.
Establish what's important for team cohesion. Go over communication best practices to avoid murky situations and implement indicators for success and failure.
14. Share the Unwritten Info
People get certain cues about how they're supposed to work by watching their team in the office. With remote working, it'll be hard for new hires to figure out these vital cues!
Help them out by sharing an unofficial 'unwritten' handbook.
Introduce employees to cultural cues they'd only see in-person at an office by sending them a handbook of information that would help them better integrate into their new workplace.
15. Use short instructional videos
Pair touching base often for a high-touch virtual onboarding model!
Move traditional orientation content to short instructional videos so employees can revisit and engage at their own time.
16. Add New Remote Employees to All Relevant Communication Channels
Because real-time online communication is essential in remote working, it's vital to add new hires to all relevant communication channels during the first week.
Make sure new employees are added to all the right calendar invites, pre-scheduled meetings, email groups and apps!
17. Initiate Friday Wind-Downs
If you've missed the physical casual Fridays you have in the office, why not bring it online with virtual Friday wind-downs?
It's a chance for the team to mingle and discuss the week, its pros and cons and how next week could be better - over the team's choice of drink!
18. Shadow Work
They say watching an expert do something makes you feel you can do it. It also mentally prepares you with what you need to do in the future.
To get new hires started, try shadow work.
Have the new employee shadow a few video calls with his/her mentor to better understand their work role.
Remote onboarding is here to say... well, at least for now. As more companies take precedence in improving the virtual onboarding experience, expect the list to be updated on a regular basis as more tips surface!