remote onboarding

A new hire is excited to get onboard, and you are ready to welcome her. Virtually. Times are changing, and, now, people have the opportunity to work remotely from a sunny palm island or from their home at their kitchen counter.

With people working remotely a remote, digital onboarding must be in place too, and now it is time to get it right. Because without the close, social aspect of onboarding in a physical setting, there are a lot of changes that need to be done.

But before we rush straight into it, let's take a few steps back and learn why it is important to create a structured onboarding process in the first place. 

Why Is Onboarding Important? 

Structured onboarding programs:

However, today, only 12 percent strongly agree that their organizations do a good job onboarding new hires. This fact might relate to the classic misunderstanding that a checklist ticked off and some flowers on the desk are just what it takes, before we start the 'real' work.

But a checklist is definitely not the same as a structured onboarding program, and it will never be enough to create the right onboarding feeling. Onboarding is so much more.

It is both social, digital, and physical, but with the physical part removed in the remote onboarding process, you will have to tweak and tune in on the two other parts of onboarding to create a satisfying pre - and onboarding process.  

Remote Preboarding 

  • Keep the new hire in the mail loop with relevant information. Then he will know what is going on at the office even before he starts. 

  • Send a digital preboarding path for the new employee two weeks before she starts. Remember to bite-size the preboarding or create microlearning, especially, if she still works in her current position, then she can do the preboarding modules in her own time when it is suitable.

  • Mission, history, values, culture, and employee-videos are some of the elements you can include in your digital preboarding, and remember to tell more than what she can already read on the company website. Furthermore, you should not create a lot of text-on-text modules. Make it interactive to involve the new employee.   

  • The social part of preboarding is important too. Let him know the team on a virtual call. Let the team members tell a bit about themselves, their responsibilities, and interests outside the job too. In this way, you create a sense of belonging faster, because the new hire will have a greater idea of who he will be working with, and he can easier see himself as a part of the team and company as a whole. 

Remote Onboarding

  • Rethink your onboarding plan both in terms of tasks, first day, etc. Translate the physical events of onboarding to digital events. Think: social perspective instead of physical perspective.

  • Be structured and create an overview and plan of the first time at the company for the new employee. This will remove her nervous thoughts about the first time and what she should be doing. Stick to the plan.  

  • Arrange small digital coffee break sessions with the team - both regular check-ins to see how he is doing or if he needs something, and the relaxed coffee breaks too, where he can talk to someone from the team about everything from an avocado's longevity to the all-time high scoring player in basketball. 

  • And now, when we are talking about it, she should not just talk to her new team only. Buddy programs are great in normal onboarding circumstances, and this is the same case with a remote onboarding.

    Give the new employee a professional buddy from her own team to help her through the daily tasks, and do's and don'ts in her new job, but give her a social buddy too from another department, who can help her into the culture of the company, smalltalk, and ask her about her everyday to make her feel welcomed and that she belongs. 

  • Break up written instructions to smaller parts and pass them over time. Too many written instructions can seem overwhelming with all the other impressions in a new job.

    Bite-size it like the digital preboarding and share the written instructions in a digital learning setting in for example a learning platform. If you have the time you should 'jazz up' the written instructions and add more interactive and visual elements to make it easier for the new employee to comprehend. 
  • You cannot communicate too much. This might seem odd as you should not overload the new employee with information in the preboarding phase. However, in remote onboarding, communication is key.

    Now, the new employee focuses completely on his new position in your company, and this is why you do not have to hesitate about communication. He will probably be eager and ready to get the information.   

  • Create digital learning modules that relate to the new employee's new position, and make sure to make them available at all devices. Add 'Me Time' in her calendar for her to explore the learning content at her own pace.

    Be sure that the preboarding learning path is available too for her to retake the modules, if she needs a brush-up. If possible, add a social element to the digital learning, where she can interact with her co-workers about the learning. 
  • The new employee might be eager to show off his skills in his new job, and he should be able to do so. Create onboarding tasks suited for the new employee to get him started, but do not make the tasks too grand, so he can complete them at his own pace.

    All the new impressions can seem overwhelming, and with a large scale task as well, stress looms just around the corner. This should not be the case.  
  • One of the most important takeaways for the remote onboarding, as well as a regular structured onboarding process, is that you must commit to 90 days of onboarding and not just one week or a day with a checklist. 


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