Remote onboarding: It starts before it starts

Multicoloured welcome sign to represent the remote onboarding process

Organisations are beginning to realise that you can hire talent from anywhere; geography is no longer an issue. The old idea of travelling to head office for a week or two is exactly that – old.  It’s no longer practical, logistically workable or something that people are willing to do. Welcome the rise of remote onboarding!

Yet despite remote onboarding becoming increasingly common, there are still challenges and logistics to consider. Importantly, how do you engage your new hires so they arrive at their remote onboarding process excited, ready and with an open mind?

5 tips for remote onboarding

1. ‘Meet’ and greet

We recommend building opportunities in to your remote onboarding to gather and network, just like you would over coffee and lunch in a co-located onboarding event. You should organise these even before the programme starts. Remember, your new employees want to feel comfortable and welcomed in to your organisation- long before onboarding starts!

Whether you use Yammer, MS Teams, WhatsApp or another platform, it’s super important to have something in place.  Set this up prior to the actual remote onboarding and encourage people to introduce themselves and connect.

You can even upload pre-reading or pre-work, while encouraging them to collaborate with one another.

2. Give them a warm welcome from their onboarding ‘mentor’

Ideally this will be a one-to-one call to meet up, begin to get to know each other and set expectations for the remote onboarding process, while answering any questions or concerns etc.

You might choose a different name for an onboarding mentor (as this can sound a bit formal!) but ultimately it is the go-to person who will look after the new hire throughout the process.

New hires will come across lots of different people throughout their remote onboarding process, but there is comfort in knowing they have their one person to go to for everything and anything.

If your programme is too big to have one-to-one calls, then even a simple video hello can work, followed by some welcome sessions for scene setting and Q&A later.

3. Set the tone

Make sure everyone involved is with you on this.  It’s important not to apologise for not having a co-located event.  If people expect a second best experience from remote onboarding then they are likely to experience it as such.

Highlight the benefits of being remote; it is more flexible, better for the environment, and creates opportunities to meet colleagues from different locations. It may be likely that your new employees will, be working virtually anyway so be sure to demonstrate the power of this from the very beginning.

4. Welcome to the platform

Introduce your participants to the virtual platform and tech that you will be using for the remote onboarding.

This could be done in different ways e.g. a live walkthrough, video tutorial, FAQs, how-to-guide or a hands on practice.  A mini assignment getting them to research and figure out how to do certain things on the platform is always a good way to get people comfortable, or even just a mini task that gets them using it in some way.

This is not about them becoming experts, just familiarizing them so they are more comfortable when they begin to use it for real.

5. Map out their remote onboarding journey so they know exactly what to expect

You want your new hires to be informed, but don’t spring this upon them on day one.  Let them see the route map of what’s coming; dates, times, virtual locations, speakers, events before the onboarding starts.  Make it easy to follow and clear.

You want them to be looking forward to what’s coming.  Most people don’t want to turn up blind- so help them out by clarifying all the whats, why’s, how’s and who’s of what to expect.

Final thoughts

So there you have it. Our 5 remote onboarding tips to help you successfully engage your new hires so they arrive excited, ready and with an open mind.  Remember onboarding is an exciting time, and remote onboarding has so much potential;  if you are equipped with all the strategies to run it well- your participants can get the most our of their experience.

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