The rapid changes in today’s workplace have made remote working a popular option, with more people wanting to work from home in order to avoid public transit. Businesses need ways of delivering human capital efficiently and finding remote employees who are a good fit for the organization.
One major issue involved in hiring is the process of welcoming and setting up remote employees. The answer? Virtual onboarding. On-boarding new employees by virtual means are becoming more common.
In order to succeed with virtual onboarding, you need to have a process in place to onboard the new remote employees. You need to make it as easy for your new remote hire to start working with your business.
Factors that are important in virtual onboarding:
- Establish a process on how to introduce remote employees and walk them through company operations, online tools, procedures, policies, etc. This will help streamline communication and reduce confusion.
- Ensure virtual employees have everything they need which includes access to resources including software licenses or hardware purchases if necessary (and provide instructions). If this is not possible then find ways of having these things provided remotely e.g., cloud storage systems instead of physical copies; provide VPNs so offsite staff can regain full network access when working from home – use iChat for video conferencing instead of a personal call.
- Provide a clear outline of company benefits and privileges that come with remote employment such as telecommuting, flexible hours, etc.
- Onboarding meetings for new hires who are going to work remotely should happen in person or over the phone instead of just relying on email communications. This will help establish relationships between team members more effectively before they’ve even started working together.
- Alongside setting up procedures ensure there is also time allocated for following them e.g., weekly status reports; monthly performance review discussions – these reviews should be done either via video chat software or by linking two computer screens so both parties can see each other without having any obstacles to communication like language barriers, etc.; quarterly one on ones where employees speak to their managers for 15 minutes to discuss and plan the next three months.
- Set up a system where employees can document common problems or mistakes they’ve made in order to avoid repeating them by checking with past colleagues who have faced similar issues – this will also help new hires learn from others’ experience and make better decisions too.
Above all else, however, managers should focus on providing support as this helps ensure that new remote employees will stay engaged and productive after they begin working for your company.
You need to be aware that new remote employees need time to adjust. You can’t expect a remote worker to be productively contributing from day one.
Offer online tutorial sessions so that new hires are familiar with their tasks. This way, there won’t be any misunderstanding when it comes time to complete tasks assigned to them. The first couple of weeks are crucial in ensuring that new hires feel welcome.
A live chat window can also be a big help with remote employees, so they don’t have to go through an entire email chain if there is an issue or question. Remote employees usually work from home and need some level of social interaction in the form of a simple conversation.
Finally, managers should make sure their teams are cross-functional when assigning tasks because team members who specialize in one area might not know how to do another task, even though they both work at your company.
Alright, let’s get started.
What is Virtual Onboarding?
Before going into the steps of virtual onboarding, it’s important to define what exactly this activity is first. The concept is very simple and similar to what regular employee onboarding is – it’s about welcoming a new hire and helping them settle into their new spot in the company. The main difference here, however, is that the process has to be done online.
As opposed to in-person onboarding where face-to-face discussions and interactions will be greatly involved, virtual onboarding will use video conferences, text resources, instant messaging, webinars, pre-recorded videos, and other interactive online training tools. Instead of each other, the new employee and the onboarding officer will mostly interact with and through their devices to accomplish the task.
A proper and effective onboarding procedure can affect a new hire’s decision whether to stay or move to a different company within the first couple of months. According to a survey made by an online job marketplace website, 4 out of 10 employees who decided to leave within six months after getting hired said that a better onboarding process could’ve helped them choose to stay. So if you’re gunning for lower turnover rates in your team, it would be ideal to pay attention to this area.
What You Need for Virtual Onboarding
There will be lots of material to cover during the onboarding process. To help ease a new hire into it, here are some tricks that you can try.
Choose the right information to cover.
Go through the entire catalog of materials that are required for the new employee to learn during the onboarding process and make sure that they include the right details. If you can also arrange it according to importance, it will help the new employee to prioritize the right material to go through. This will help them tremendously in being efficient and moving forward to becoming a better fit for the team.
Tweak the material for better impact.
There’s a very good chance that the materials you use for in-person onboarding can be a bit too tedious for a work-from-home setting. Adjust the details to avoid things like ‘Zoom fatigue’ and for faster absorption.
Go for flexibility.
Again, since there are tons of challenges in a remote work setup, it would be great if you can be a lot more forgiving and flexible during the onboarding process. It’s recommended to let the new hire go through some of the materials on their own pace so you might also want to provide them text resources for them to cover on their own.
Virtual onboarding is tougher than its in-person counterpart so it’s best to take a bit more time to go through everything. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself and the new hire to cover everything right away as that might prove to be counterproductive in the long run. Give your new employee the opportunity to absorb the information you’ve given them.
To-Do List for Virtual Onboarding: Here are the things you might need to do during a virtual onboarding process.
Before Candidate’s First Day
Have them fill out the new hire paperwork.
To get the ball rolling, ask the new hire to fill out their new hire paperwork before their first day. Get these things out of the way so there’s no more need to deal with it on their first day.
There are now lots of tools that can be used to create e-signatures for documents, many of which are very secure. Help your new hire get acquainted with these as well to further simplify the task.
Come up with a schedule and agenda for their first week.
The onboarding process can be quite hectic so it’s best if you plan it ahead. Make a list of the things you want the new hire to learn right away and use that for scheduling their activities. Don’t forget to add breaks in between video calls and regular check-ins when they’re working independently so they’ll feel comfortable.
Send a welcome email.
Even if you’re already exchanging messages with the new hire about many onboarding topics, it’s still important to send them an official welcome message. This will be a good place to initiate friendlier interactions and provide them the most vital information they need to kick off their first week at work.
Keep this email light but make sure to include the details they need to know before their first day at work like the following:
- Equipment delivery schedule
- Schedule and agenda for the first week
- Links for initial video conferences
Send the work equipment and a welcome kit
To help your new hire get ready for their first day, send their equipment prior to their scheduled first day of work. It would be best if you can have the necessary and required software downloaded and installed into their computer before they’re sent out. Include IT instructions for the basics like logging into the work computer and company email or software for the first time.
Sending a welcome kit is also recommended for virtual onboarding as it can help make a new hire feel more seen and welcome. Many companies send company swag while other managers add more personal touches to the kit.
Assign a team member as a welcome buddy.
Assigning another team member as a go-to person of the new hire to help them assimilate and get better acquainted with everything can help a newbie settle in. Team leaders and managers aren’t necessarily very easy to warm up to for a lot of employees, so getting someone else that’s not necessarily superior to the new hire would give them a friendly face to lean on.
Candidate’s First Day
Inform your current team of the new hire’s arrival.
In order for your team to extend their help in welcoming a new hire, they should also be informed that someone else is going to be added to the bunch.
Add the new hire to all pertinent communication channels you have for your team.
To kick off the start of the new chapter of the new hire’s professional journey with your team, add them to the communication channels that are relevant to them and their position. Doing this early on will help them feel more welcome and will give an opportunity for other team members to say hello to them right away.
Do a virtual tour of the new hire’s workplace.
The first meeting you should have with the new hire is a discussion of their work setup. It’s essential to check if their system is running properly to ensure that they’re good to go.
Introduce the new hire to the team and vice versa.
Once everything is set, do a video conference to introduce the new hire to the team. If you’re in the office, this can be done through a quick huddle but since most companies are working remotely, a brief video call will do. Have the new hire introduce themselves to everyone and get current employees to do quick introductions about themselves, too.
Scheduling virtual team lunches is also recommended by experts as it will help get the team together in a more relaxed and casual atmosphere. It’s also ideal to set brief one-on-ones among team members so they can get to know each other better and they can better understand how they’ll be working together.
Hold a company orientation.
To help the newbie better understand the organization they just joined, host a company orientation.
Candidate’s First Week
Discuss their responsibilities and expectations.
It’s a must for new hires to learn how to carry out their job properly so talking it out would be an excellent first step to go about it. Remember that it’s beneficial to over-communicate when working remotely as it reduces room for error so don’t worry about being quite straight to the point in this area.
Aside from a discussion, shadowing the new hire and conducting training sessions are advised.
Schedule regular one-on-ones with their manager
During the first week of your new hire, constant communication is necessary for many reasons. It can, for one, help you provide better assistance to the new employee. They might not be comfortable enough yet to reach out so it’s recommended to take the initiative in this regard.
Regular one-on-ones will also help managers learn more about their new hire’s working style, preferences, and even quirks. This will come in handy in assessing whether they’re truly a good fit for the team or if there are additional points that can be given to them to help them perform better.
Maintain an interactive onboarding procedure.
Studies show that interactive activities help people retain more information so it would also be helpful for new hires if the onboarding procedure is a bit more interactive. Sign up other team members and hold different kinds of activities that can make learning more fun and exciting.
Get feedback on the onboarding process
Getting feedback from your new hire will also be highly beneficial in various ways. For one, you’ll be able to learn which techniques are working. It can also make your new employee feel more valued by asking for their opinions about their experience.
Virtual onboarding can be tricky, especially for those who haven’t done it before. However, it’s not impossible to pull off. You’ll just need to be more creative so you’ll be able to devise new ways to welcome a new hire and be more conscious of the effects of the steps you’re taking to ensure that it’s working.