How to onboard remotely (in a pandemic)Natalie Lewis
How to onboard remotely so that your teams hit the ground running …
Many organisations were only just moving from the archaic practice of the (dreaded) ‘induction’ to the far more comprehensive and supportive notion of ‘onboarding’ before the pandemic hit. And now, we have to figure out how to carry out a decent onboarding process remotely!
The COVID pandemic has forced most businesses (some kicking and screaming) to embrace new technology overnight. Outdated working practices were unburied and had to be overhauled to enable businesses to carry out much of their business remotely. It was a real stress and strain on many people.
Different businesses had various experiences of the peak of the pandemic madness; some sadly had to freeze any recruitment and rely on furlough, others needed to expand their workforce really quickly. How to onboard remotely became a real head scratcher.
Hiring new staff became a bit of a logistical nightmare – holding interviews via video conference was weird, training newbies was challenging and helping people settle in via Teams or similar was frankly bizarre. However, we have made it this far!
Let’s be honest, us HR professionals felt like we were making stuff up half the time and most of the advice we gave was experimental!
I spent a lot of time when considering new changes asking the question “is this going to move you away from or closer to your company vision/values/culture?”
Many forward-thinking companies were quick to embrace digital recruiting processes. Most businesses receive CVs and applications digitally anyway so this wasn’t a big change. The majority of assessments, psychometrics and tests can also be carried out online too.
Interviews can now be held via video conference but do make allowances for those people who haven’t used Zoom/Teams etc. before and/or who have technology issues. It’s just typical that when you’re trying to nail an interview, the Wi-Fi goes down or the kids decide to jump on Fortnite and the connection becomes fuzzy due to a lack of bandwidth!
Sharing screens makes it really easy for people to present to you during an interview too if that’s one of the assessments you usually carry out. There really shouldn’t be any excuse not to carry out a really good interview process.
When it came to signing of contracts, most of my clients went digital, no longer requiring ‘wet signatures’ on their contracts, saving on faff, paper and postage! Bonus!
The realisation that a large number of people would now want to work from home (or at least work some of their time from home) really opened the eyes of many business owners. Contracts needed to be reconsidered and new policies developed.
Some of my clients realised that by working remotely, they no longer needed to be restricted to local talent so they decided to recruit from anywhere in the UK! Now there’s a thought!
Settling in new starters remotely
How do you onboard remotely? Starting a new job can feel daunting at the best of times but to start a new job from your spare bedroom, dining room table, or wherever, must be really odd!
Companies should work especially hard to make new starters feel at home.
- Make sure you’ve sent all relevant paperwork for signing before they start
- Have them set up on all of your company systems before they start
- Send them a full timetable of events for the first few weeks; include virtual coffees with teammates/important people in the business, training on company systems or if you use Teams/Slack/Trello etc.
- Send them a photo, bio and contact details for all of their team and the wider company before day one so they know who they’ll be speaking to
- If they don’t have satisfactory computer or office equipment at home, make sure this is sent to them in advance
- Set up a call with their manager (and team) first thing on their first day
- Consider sending them a welcome pack of company-branded stationery
- Make sure that they understand the company culture, vision and values – keep reiterating these in everything that you do
Consider moving all training and ‘inductions’ online with any important recorded presentations and business updates available for viewing on-demand.
If you carry out anyone to one training with your newbie, make sure you record it and make the recording available for them to re-visit as often as they need. This will reduce the need for them to ask questions over and over! Sounds obvious but give them a point of contact for any questions or queries they have.
This is a brilliant time to get those ‘how we do things around here’ and ‘how-to’ manuals written and distributed around the company. Remember to focus on your company culture and values in these.
Make sure during the first few weeks of the newbie’s life with your company that you have regular ‘how’s it going’ calls. Introduce them to the company feedback process (if you aren’t giving regular performance feedback to your employees then I’d recommend you start!)
Help them understand their importance in the business and how their role influences the rest of the processes and people in the company.
To onboard remotely in the most effective way, you’re going to need to be super organised and introduce various technologies.
When you can, you may find it useful to bring teams together face to face (safely!) from time to time. If this isn’t possible, it’s really important for your team members to get to know each other as people and not just work colleagues so allow time during the working week for team members to have a virtual chat that they’d normally have in the kitchen whilst making a brew or over lunch. This has been shown to really improve teamwork and cohesion.
This is a fab time to get creative in helping to onboard new people into your business. Have some fun with it, maybe ask your existing team what they’d like to see/contribute.
Go wild! Have some fun! And good luck!