Remote work is not going away anytime soon. As social distancing and stay-at-home orders (for some states) extend into the coming months, it is more crucial than ever that employers are proactive about their hiring process to make a successful transition. The biggest issue, without a doubt, being remote onboarding, writes Mehul Patel, CEO of Hired.
In our latest State of Remote Work ReportOpens a new window , 97% of employees we surveyed said they were open to remote onboardingOpens a new window at a new company with the right resources and support. At the same time, 50% of the employers we surveyed shared that onboarding new hires remotely is the leading challenge their teams are facing right now.
Why are employers so concerned? Well, unlike interviews, onboarding is part of the hiring process that has traditionally taken place in person and explicitly designed as an in-office experience for new hires. Many worry that this change will require a massive redesign of workflows and internal processes.
However, when we asked employees to explain what constitutes the right resources and support, we identified seven essential items:
- Comprehensive onboarding plan that includes timelines and topics
- Training session with the IT department
- Role-specific onboarding
- Designated mentors or an onboarding buddy
- Project management tools and best practices
- Documentation in a company-wide wiki
- Internet and workspace allowance
What Makes Remote Onboarding a Success?
With this feedback in mind, companies must invest in their remote onboarding processes now to ensure they stay ahead of the curve and instill confidence in candidates. Below are the best ways for companies to create a seamless onboarding experience that’s on par with what you’d expect in person.
1. Maintaining accountability
During a traditional in-person onboarding, employers have the luxury of connecting with their new employees at a moment’s notice, making it much easier to check-in and ensure the new employee is becoming appropriately acquainted with their new role and responsibilities.
Companies need to make sure their managers are well-equipped with clear instructions on what actions need to be taken to streamline the onboarding process successfully.
For example, in a webinar with Hired, Deutsche BankOpens a new window shared how it created a specific set of remote onboarding guidelines for their managers to ensure they feel fully supported and know what is expected of them throughout this process. This could include scheduling a phone call with the new hire to set expectations for their first week or outlining a clear timeline of introductory briefings to make sure they are in touch with the right people in a timely fashion. Managers are also encouraged to sit in on a few of the introductory meetings to provide additional context and get a better sense of how the new hire is acclimating into their role.
Hiring managers and employees should also be participating in video calls regularly. This constant line of communication is essential for both parties to openly communicate about any problems or questions that come up, as well as allowing the new hire to engage with their team members on a more personal level.
Employers should encourage all participants to join meetings with their video on, so the new hire can put a face to all names present.
ZillowOpens a new window encourages their employees to participate in â€œVirtual New Hire Open Houses,â€ a designated Slack channel where all new hires are invited to join so they can support each other during their first few months.
2. Getting employees set up in the remote environment efficiently
Once you have established the overall structure of your remote onboarding process, you then need to identify the necessary tools to support it. Project management platforms are great resources for managers to track progress throughout the onboarding program. ProofHub, Basecamp, Teamwork Projects, and Trello are just a few of the wide variety of options available, so be sure to evaluate which platform works best for your business carefully.
You will also need to define the best practices for each appropriate platform. Cloud storage tools such as G-Suite, Dropbox, Microsoft One Drive, and Box are all great ways to organize and store these guidelines in one easily accessible place.
Addressing technical issues in a remote environment can be difficult, so companies should plan by having individuals from their IT departments check in with the new hire regularly. Much like their designated onboarding buddy, employees should have an open line of communication with their IT department when working remotely to resolve issues promptly.
It’s safe to say that 100% of remote workers working in tech depend on their laptops and other devices to complete their daily tasks. Companies should have a clear plan in place on how they assign and distribute devices. Additionally, companies should consider providing workspace stipends, as they are a highly appreciated and anticipated benefit for many remote workers, allowing them to purchase the devices they need for a comfortable and productive work environment. Providing internet stipends is also useful for ensuring employees have a reliable, high-speed connection that guarantees they can always connect and collaborate with their team.
3. Providing a cultural experience
In our State of Remote Work Report, 40% of the individuals we surveyed cited that working remotely makes it more challenging to collaborate and build rapport. Communicating company culture is one of the biggest obstacles when it comes to remote onboarding. Hence, companies need to take extra steps to ensure their new hires feel welcomed and included.
To do this, companies should arm their hiring managers ahead of time with resources that illustrate their culture, such as photos, videos, and internal newsletters, so the new hire feels comfortable integrating into their new team.
Since remote employees don’t have the same exposure to informal interactions that office culture provides, make sure to include them in ad hoc, informal exchanges such as the first-day lunch over Zoom, or virtual team happy hours that can help them get to know other colleagues and develop rapport outside their immediate teams.
Social media management firm BufferOpens a new window assigns their remote hires a â€œculture buddy,â€ who is responsible for sharing the company’s history as well as easing the teammate into the company culture.
First Impressions Are Lasting Impressions, More so Virtually
It is important to remember that the first days and weeks for a new hire are critical in shaping their impression of the company. With thoughtful planning and support, employers can onboard new hires that contribute to winning company culture in a remote setting.
As the shift toward remote work continues to gain popularity for years to come, investing in practices such as remote onboarding will allow companies to stay ahead of the curve and position themselves for long-term success.