Onboarding Remotely

Sharon Mak HR & Recruiting Advice, Management Best Practices Leave a Comment

With leaders and their employees working from home, in different locations and even different time zones, successful onboarding is more crucial than ever. According to a study conducted by the Aberdeen Group of senior executives and HR staffing and recruiting functions, the decision to stay with a company long-term is made within the first six months of employment. The importance of onboarding can make – or break – your company’s success. While onboarding remotely does have its challenges, they don’t have to stop you from hiring the talent you need.

Feeling a bit unprepared for this new reality? Here are some tips to consider when building and deploying the best onboarding plan:

Step 1) Evaluate your current onboarding plan

Evaluate your existing onboarding process and identify the areas that can be digitized. From signing forms to introduction meetings, evaluate which ones have the most value, and focus on digitizing the ones that will best set up your new hire for success. Programs such as Microsoft Word can create fillable forms if you’re looking to digitize onboarding documents.

Step 2) Identify the right tools and equipment your new hire will need

Assess what infrastructure is needed in the role (e.g. laptop, phone, software applications, permissions and access, and other technology) and plan how you will deploy this technology. Communicate and work with your new hire to ensure they have the proper workspace to minimize distractions and be most productive. Video chatting apps like Skype, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom are especially useful tools for conducting meetings or virtual site tours.

Step 3) Make face-to-virtual-face introductions

Once your new hire is officially set up, it’s important to ensure that they meet other colleagues in the organization. Schedule “getting-to-know-you” video meetings with people in the organization to help put faces to names.

Step 4) Establish structure to keep your new hire engaged

Set realistic expectations as to your level of communication with your new hire and schedule regular meetings and check-ins with managers and colleagues. The benefits of regular communication are two-fold: 1) it helps the new employee establish trust and accountability with management and 2) it helps your employee feel like they are contributing to the company’s overall vitality.

Step 5) Train Remotely

Ensure you have training documents on a cloud-based Learning Management System (LMS) or similar platform. This will help keep training documents streamlined, centrally located, and accessible wherever your team members are located. If you need to demonstrate something on your computer screen, programs such as Teamviewer, Join.me, and GotoMeeting can be extremely helpful during training for screen sharing and collaboration.

Companies such as Wawanesa Insurance, an insurance firm headquartered in Winnipeg, continue to onboard new hires during COVID-19. The only thing that has changed is their onboarding has now gone 100% remote. While hiring and onboarding remotely does have its challenges, Czarina Macalalad, Talent Acquisition Supervisor for Wawanesa, shares that having the right technology plays a major role in onboarding efficiently. “What has given us an edge is having all the onboarding documents paperless – the onboarding process has been seamless – and we’re taking this time to stay ahead of the curve.”

Additionally, software development company, Master of Code Global, has been onboarding remotely since the Winnipeg office opened in 2014. Kelly Cassidy, Director of IT, explains that while onboarding remotely and working from home isn’t the same as “in-person and in-office”, it is manageable and even has some advantages. “In a sense, you can multi-task more, even if I’m on a call. If I receive an instant message from the new hire, I can still respond and still have that progression. So, from that perspective, it makes it easier to keep communication channels open and available.”

In this time of unprecedented uncertainty and change, it might seem like now is not the time to hire. However, with some planning and creativity, remote hiring and onboarding doesn’t have to be a poor substitute for the “real thing”. With any type of onboarding, the key is to keep lines of communication open. Make sure there are opportunities for your new hire to ask questions and for you to provide feedback. While onboarding remotely is certainly different, it doesn’t have to be put on hold.

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