The whole premise of onboarding is to fully embed an employee into the business. But what happens when the role is fully remote? Is it ever possible to feel connected, initiated and welcomed into a business and team when you have never met face to face?
Onboarding is no longer a responsibility of HR alone. It needs to be a company-wide effort to fully engage and welcome the individual into the team. At all levels, all employees have a part to play in showing support and willingness to welcome new starters.
Over the past 2 years, we have successfully onboarded individuals into our global business from all over the world. We have taken time to perfect an onboarding practice that can work when employees are semi or fully remote and this full-proof checklist has worked time and time again:
- The Set up
A new employee should be fully set up on all IT systems before their first day. Laptops can be couriered directly to new employees including any other equipment they might need (mouse, phone etc). Everything from login details, email, and any user manuals should be issued prior to the start date so they are ready to hit the ground running.
- The Welcome
Depending on who hired the new employee, it is nice for the new joiner to have a personal welcome before they log in on their first morning. This could be as simple and informal as a welcome email from the boss of the company or a branded gift with a handwritten note from their new line manager. These little touches make the individual feel recognised and welcome even before their first day begins.
- The Schedule (Timeboxing)
Have an hour-to-hour schedule ready for the first week or two so the newcomer knows exactly what to expect. Include self-learning and all other training objectives here. Include all necessary team members and make sure their calendars are blocked out too. The purpose is to have a clear schedule and give the newcomer confidence in their learning objectives.
- The Paperwork
For any new job there are a number of HR documents that need to be signed for payroll and tax purposes. Many of these forms rely on signatures for final approval. You must ensure all your documents have an e-signature tool, like HelloSign or DocuSign to make this as streamlined as possible.
- The Culture
When starting a role face to face, being introduced to the culture is more simple. When you are fully remote it is a little harder to get this across. Circulating an employee handbook is great to help give new starters a feel for the business. Any other documents you have on the company or an intranet login which showcases more about the individuals in the company and the culture/ values would also be beneficial.
- The Comms
Good communication is vital in any business, but when you are remote it is even more so. Clear avenues of communication will ensure the new starter feels they have full access to colleagues, programmes and documents. Ensure that email, phone, zoom and teams accounts are all set up and user guides are available if necessary.
- The Goals
New employees need to know exactly what is expected of then. What is the aim of the role, and what are the goals or targets? This should be laid out clearly during the onboarding process so everyone is clear and can work together to achieve it.
- The Training
Most new roles will require some form of training. Whether it be more formal, learning how to use a new programme or informal, learning how to navigate systems and introductions to the teams. Providing a full induction programme which lays out a plan for their first week or two, but then also shares dates for further training courses or workshops for the remainder of the onboarding process will be really helpful for a new employee.
- The Check-In
It’s a great idea to check in with the new starter regularly. This means any issues can be resolved quickly, and not drawn out. Check-ins after their first day, first week and maybe fortnight or month.
- The Socials
It can be difficult when you are remote to feel socially connected to your peers. Consider replicating in-person onboarding activities to help establish those personal connections. A zoom lunch club once a week, virtual quiz night, break room chats or virtual socials are all great ways to help the team get to know each other, no matter where they are in the world.
Whether onboarding in person or remotely, the goals remain the same. Communicating every step of the way will help it run smoothly. Remember, every individual and business is different, and might require more support in certain areas.