Having a new employee start is a nerve-wracking experience for everyone involved. You want to make them feel welcome, whilst getting them up to speed with your organisation and processes as seamlessly as possible. How do you achieve this when you can’t be there in person? Let our guide to remote on-boarding help you:
Before they start:
Traditionally organisations will wait until the employee’s first day to start sharing information with them but there’s no need to wait, especially if you won’t be working together in person anyway.
We’ve all experienced how overwhelming that first day can be as we try to absorb as much as possible. So why not take the lead-up time to drip-feed relevant information about your organisation and their new role in digestible chunks before they start. This practice (known as pre-boarding) helps them feel engaged during a time when new hires are typically left in the dark and even better, they’re not bombarded with information overload on day one.
Share the pre-boarding/on-boarding plan with your new hire so they know what to expect and when. Also share an organisation chart so they can start to form a picture of the team set-up and who their new colleagues will be.
Discuss their home office set-up and internet connection availability. Ensure any tools of the trade are sent as far in advance as possible so that any issues can hopefully be resolved before they start. Plus, this gives them a chance to get familiar with their new equipment.
Many organisations have a ‘procedures manual’, the bible of office systems and processes. Now’s a good time to review and update this document. Look for any gaps or things that are normally communicated in person rather than on paper. This way when they’re ready to start, you can be confident they have access to helpful information right from the get-go!
Consider using on-boarding software to help automate the process and ensure that your new team member is receiving the right information and prompts when they need them. Often new employees are asked to fill out the necessary HR paperwork on or around their first day. Speed things up by sending the relevant documents before they start.
Don’t forget to give the rest of your team the heads-up prior to a new person starting, so they can all be ready to welcome them (virtually of course) on their first day.
On their first day:
Use video conferencing and message boards to introduce your new employee to the rest of the team. If you can incorporate some fun games or ice-breakers into the meetings, even better!
Set out clear expectations around duties, hours of work, routines, scheduled meetings etc.
Give a clear reporting line and contact details for other people in the team so they know who to get in touch with about what and when. Consider a buddy system as well, so the new employee has someone they can contact about things they may not feel comfortable asking their manager yet.
Settling into their role:
Schedule regular catch-ups for the first few weeks to make sure they’re settling in well. When we’re all working in one place together, it’s easy to forget how much information we absorb simply by being there in person. Whether it’s overhearing someone else’s conversation, or a quick chat in passing. It’s easy to underestimate how much organisational knowledge is passed around this way.
When you’re dealing with a remote workforce, these interactions are lost, so it’s important to develop tools and processes that ensure that no matter where in the world your team is based, everyone has the opportunity to be on the same page.
Consider having an informal messaging system that your team can use for office banter. Having a good separation between work comms and general chat can help keep things tidy without cluttering up inboxes with memes and jokes!
On that note, it might be good to put together some guidelines around what is acceptable and what isn’t when it comes to both formal and informal comms within the team. Existing staff probably already have a good idea of what jokes are going to get a lot of laughs and what are going to result in an awkward call from the manager, but for someone new that hasn’t had the opportunity to mingle, make sure it’s spelled out for them.
If you’re used to training new employees in person, switching to a remote process can seem daunting. But with so many organisations world-wide moving towards remote set-ups (pandemic related or not), this can absolutely be done successfully. Now is a good time to step into your new hire’s shoes and take the time to review every critical moment in your employee onboarding journey. If you’re feeling stuck at all or need some advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team today!
Kirsty and Nikki