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Aisling Wolfe

6 steps to successful virtual onboarding

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This year has made us experts in working from home and operating businesses in a new environment. 

While some businesses may have halted their recruiting efforts, many more are continuing to recruit and grow their teams.

What happens when these new hires join the business, remotely? Do you have a virtual onboarding plan in place?

Onboarding new hires when everyone is working remotely brings unique challenges. With no physical office to welcome and connect new employees, how should the onboarding process adjust to match the circumstances?

We’ve put together some tips for onboarding and welcoming new employees into a remote work environment to ensure they are set up for success and feel like part of the team.

Preparation and set-up

Having an organised and well-prepared onboarding process makes your new employee feel that you have put in the time and effort to prepare for them starting, as well as looking like you’re on top of things as a business. 

You want to make sure that they feel ready for their first day so it is important to have the right tools and resources available for them.

An important factor is to decide who in your team will be responsible for sharing information with your new hire about their first day. 

This should include:

  • Links to join into any video conferences taking place
  • A clear agenda of what they should expect for their first few days
  • What time their onboarding sessions will begin and end
  • How they can prepare (ensure they have a strong WiFi connection, a quiet space to work, web cam etc.)

This may be the first time the new hire is working remotely, so be as explicit and instructional as possible.

Communication is key

It’s normal for a new-hire to feel anxiety over starting a new role. Now that they don’t have the opportunity to come to the workplace and meet their teammates and managers, it can increase the feelings of anxiety. 

Normally, a manager can make frequent stops at a new hire’s desk to see how they’re doing. Now, managers can stay connected with them through email, chat, and videoconferencing. Communication should cover both the practical — here’s what you need to do today and here’s how to do it — and the social.

While you don’t want to overwhelm your onboarding employee, you do want them to feel welcomed and certain that they’re getting the tools and instructions needed to navigate the road ahead.

Adapting your onboarding content for virtual learning

If you already have an onboarding process in place, you’ll need to modify the content to be accessible for virtual workers.

Welcome pack

If you typically hand new hires a welcome pack full of useful documents, these will now have to be amalgamated, organized into a PDF style document and sent out digitally.  Trial the pack with an existing employee to ensure all links are working before you issue.

Onboarding presentations

If you typically do an in-person presentation introducing the company, you’ll have to modify that to suit a virtual learning environment. Think about including a welcome video to accompany any presentations. 

Instructional eLearning

If you typically have a new hire sit with a member of the team to review tools and systems, consider replacing that with short eLearning instructional videos. Better still, align your team member to run through the tools and systems through video conferencing. You can still refer them to eLearning, but this will enrich the onboarding experience further and let your team get to know your new start.

Planning the first few weeks of work

The last thing you want is to have a new-hire sitting at home wondering how they will fill their first few weeks. 

Consider creating a timetable for them, and scheduling the following events over video conference:

  • Individual introductions with team members
  • A virtual team welcome lunch
  • Introduction to managers and team leaders they’ll be working with
  • Team meetings to discuss corporate culture
  • Two or three tasks they can complete in the first week

Set clear expectations

Onboarding employees with a clear picture of their duties and what is expected of them builds the foundations for success. You should verify that new employees understand their tasks and the systems they’ll use in their work.

Ensure clarity around company values, team objectives and individual goals. You should also establish time frames for training, reviews and milestones.

Check-in regularly

It can be overwhelming trying to get up to speed with a new company’s work practice and culture – even more so at a distance. Frequent interaction and communication with your new hire will ensure they feel as engaged, supported and connected as possible.

One-to-one time is a hugely important aspect of an onboarding process. Carve out time for regular check-ins to see how they’re doing, especially in their first week. You want to remind them that they are not working in isolation and that you are there to support them. You should also be available to answer any questions they may have. Use your collaboration tools to do this, and if you are unavailable then make sure someone else in the team can step in and help.

Are you on the hunt for your next team member? Speak to us today about how we can help you.