Remote

Crafting a remote onboarding plan

By August 4, 2020 No Comments

Between world-changing situations and paradigm-shifting developments, the global workforce is now getting used to the new normal. It’s no secret we struggled to adjust to the current remote situation. Communication, productivity, connection, have been some of the major concerns. Overlooked and forgotten, there is another important aspect that your business is sorely lacking – a remote employee onboarding plan.

Onboarding has always been one of the neglected facets. It has become even more difficult to have a proper employee onboarding procedure to bring them into the fold during this pandemic.

Remote work opens several possibilities, but it also causes potential problems if not done right. The companies are more focused now on hiring the best candidates from across the world. Diversity, global hiring, distributed teams may soon become a norm too.

On this note, planning the ins and outs of an onboarding program and crafting a remote onboarding plan has never been more important. When will the onboarding start? How long will it last? What impression do you want new hires to walk away with at the end of the first day? And many more.

But before we craft a new remote employee onboarding program, we need to understand the basic concept of employee onboarding. Also, the demand of heading up our entire onboarding program, which we’ve adapted to meet our current remote work needs.

What is employee onboarding?

Employee onboarding is a process of integrating a new employee with a company and its culture. The process of onboarding new employees is considered to be one of the most critical factors. It ensures that the recently hired talents shall be productive and diligent workers.

But the process of onboarding remote employees differs from that of on-site employees. Here everything is processed virtually. Then what does this remote lifestyle mean for onboarding new hires? Let’s dive into the different onsets of onboarding.

How is virtual onboarding different from a traditional one?

If we talk about operating any business, either on-site or remotely we need a proper onboarding process. From sharing every tiny information, facilitating introductions, to monitoring their first few weeks, onboarding plays a crucial role. When we create a strong onboarding process, it sets the tone for the employee’s entire experience with our company.

In virtual onboarding, you establish personal connections with your employees so well. But the oriented one doesn’t give you the same environment. A different outlook of virtual culture surrounds you. While in the office-office game, you are only stuck to a 9 to 5 timeline.

In remote environments, you try to schedule at least one video call for each day of their first week. You consolidate initial paperwork and weave company communication tools into the onboarding and paperwork process. Whereas traditionally, existing employees do not have the same attitude toward welcoming a new hire. Not only this, on a new hire’s first day, but you also hand them 15 different forms to fill out, just another way of following the company’s organizational culture.

Remote employee onboarding process

According to a survey, almost three-quarters of companies have decided to shift some sections of their workforce to permanent remote work after this pandemic. Then it is obvious to have a remote onboarding plan ready beforehand.

What is the process of onboarding all about? How can we get our new hires properly onboarded? And more importantly, how can we help them become productive fast and make sure they feel welcome? Let’s get down to full-on planning of creating an onboarding program.

How to create a plan

Evaluate your current onboarding plan

Is your current onboarding plan relevant to remote work?

Evidently, remote work policies, data security concerns, collaboration, and communication protocols, and channels have been through massive changes. This might call for a quick training session for your existing employees as well as new ones.

Start by carefully evaluating your existing onboarding sequence and identifying the value of each component. Making some minor tweaks to your onboarding plan is unavoidable. As the workplace priorities and expectations significantly shift, it calls for a new plan.

If you did not have a laid-out onboarding plan, to begin with, now is a great time to remedy that.

Remote onboarding considerations

To mitigate the risk of the spread of the virus, all of us have switched to remote life. Companies have acted quickly, requiring employees to work from home. Remote work has become the new normal now.

Let’s walk into the considerations in being successful at onboarding employees remotely.

  • 4 C’s of the remote onboarding plan

According to the SHRM Foundation, there should be four distinct components or four C’s for a successful onboarding process.

Compliance:

This is the most basic requirement of an onboarding process. Your employees should be given a thorough understanding of their legal rights and obligations, being a part of the organization. You should train the new employees in the policies of your company. The human resource team can most efficiently handle this part.

Clarification:

A new employee should be given a clear picture of what is expected out of them. They should have clarity on the roles and responsibilities. It is crucial to set the right expectations so that your new hire can be productive in a short time.

Culture:

What does your organization stand for? What are your mission and vision? How can a new hire contribute to the culture of the organization? You should give a general idea about your organization’s culture to the new hires. It will help them find a sense of belonging to your organization.

Connection:

You should help your new hire to make meaningful connections within the team and organizations. You need to take time to introduce the new employee to the team and make sure that the employee is not left out. Within days of joining, the new employee should be able to make good workplace relationships and establish information networks. You also need to make sure that your new hire meets senior leadership.

  • Addressing the remote work challenges

We completely stand by our belief that remote is the future of work, but we’ll be completely blunt and say this too: Not every company is built to work remotely.

Does that mean they cannot manage to make it work? Of course not! Apart from the advantages, no one can deny that there are challenging aspects to remote work as well. Any kind of work comes with its fair share of remote challenges, it may just be worth your efforts to overcome those.

Plan for maximum impact, minimum footprint

For a better onboarding, there is a need to optimize plans of multiple learning strategies. Some of the new talents will be either visual learners or kinesthetic learners. All of them will have different perspectives and aspects of learning.

The more engaged new candidates are, the more they’ll feel to be a part of a company. Make use of remote platforms and utilize a variety of training exercises to accommodate different learning styles.

Emphasize the company’s culture

We often wonder how to build a strong remote team culture. Culture is the ability to work together as a team. To make decisions even in the absence of key personnel. Culture is more than just workplace benefits. Build a set of company values by involving everyone on the team, not just upper management. Involve your new employees as well.

Effective and open communication is absolutely crucial within a remote team. Everyone should be able to communicate asynchronously (by writing or recording oneself) and synchronously. Focus on creating small teams so that the new hires have clarity and are comfortable enough to contribute to the work effectively.

Make the onboarding interactive

Kickstart the onboarding process with a strong engagement of an online virtual tour of your office. This provides information to your new hires about your firm. Walk them through the onboarding process and answer their questions.

A strong human interaction through online communication makes the new talents feel engaged and keeps them interested in learning more about company values. You can also send them  “an electronic welcome packet”, with the company history, and core values.

Clarify the roles of team members beforehand

It becomes a tough gig to empower the teams to thrive when, for instance, someone sitting on the east coast is working for a west coast company and so on. Managing a remote team isn’t as easy as it appears to be. Hiring managers have to rely on the right remote tools and collaboration of projects.

Lack of coordination leads to a lack of project management and poorly organized projects from start to finish. Transparency and accountability are the two major critical factors for the remote teams to exist.

Proper boundaries should be set to take care of different time zones. Set expectations early and clearly. Being clear with employees will keep them focussed on working towards the same goals. The management team should keep such things in mind.

Being out of sight, try to help your new hires in making them understand the company’s boundaries and processing. If something is really bothering your employees, understand the clues they might be giving you and give them a helping hand.

Set a timeline for your remote onboarding plan

Be specific with how you define the purpose of each stage in the program. Even companies that don’t have laid out onboarding plans can hope to manage to welcome a new employee well enough on-site. How do you onboard an employee who won’t work from the same place as you though?

The remote onboarding process, phases, and objectives can seem very similar to the traditional onboarding process. However, that is not the case. Remote poses some challenges at every stage of your employees’ journey with you. And it is important to know how the phases of the remote onboarding program work.

Make use of remote onboarding toolbox

An effective onboarding process boosts productivity, engagement, and retention. But to make it possible, it is important to get them oriented quickly. To save yourself from the irritation of digging through emails, how about coordinating with a few better training software, and streamlined onboarding tools.

  • Trello

Trello is a cloud-based project management app designed to help individuals and teams collaborate better and keep their projects organized. It has a visual approach to the management of tasks and projects.

Users can set up task lists and cards that can be assigned to specific team members. This software allows the members to discuss their projects or tasks in realtime. It keeps everybody informed through task assignments, an activity log, and email notifications.

  • Obie.ai

Obie.ai is a learning software that integrates with popular business applications. Google Docs, Dropbox, Slack and Confluence are into considerations. It is very effective and gives ease to the users. The new employees can ping the responsive chatbot, Obie, to help answer any and all of their questions.

In fact, obie can point them to particular steps and pages in-process documents. For instance, it can help them in identifying and accessing the company’s assets. All in all, it’s a great app where you can have a pace of constant emails and chat messages. Thus, navigating your newly hired remote workers for the first few days in their roles.

  • Talmundo

Talmoando is a platform enabling human resources (HR) teams to create a self-service portal. It is for the applicants that allow new hires to complete onboarding tasks, communicate with colleagues, view application progress, and complete online forms.

Their mobile-friendly onboarding platform will help you build a culture of employee engagement, decrease new hire time-to-productivity, and de-risk recruitment investments.

  • Zenefits

Zenefits is an online HR platform designed to help SMBs when it comes to benefits administration, and other employee and workforce-related processes. It is easy to use the app for employee benefits and insurance, recruitment, and onboarding.

Zenefits unifies all its features and tools in one dashboard to give you extensive control, easy compliance with regulations, and better information access for employees. Best of all, the platform provides exceptional value through its feature-rich and low-cost packages, making it ideal for startups and small businesses looking for a robust platform that is affordable and easy to use.

Create an onboarding checklist

Onboarding is a procedure of orienting a new employee. Moreover, it is a series of events happening for a particular time usually tailored for a specific role. When hiring remote employees, make sure you offer a structured onboarding. A complete onboarding checklist can help you with the induction of remote workers to get new hires up to speed on their roles, your business, and key policies.

Roles and responsibilities

Onboarding is, inarguably, a task of not just the HR team, but the company as a whole. When the employee is in the office premises, a large extent of onboarding activities happens even without the new hire realizing it. With the proximity of management, finance, and HR teams, the new hire can easily access information.

Document the onboarding plan

After the planning of a remote onboarding plan, it is always important to document it. Even if there are some specifications to be added or changes to be made, documentation is a safe place. Documentation beforehand also saves time when the next new hires come to your workplace.

Improve and update from time to time

The basic elements of an effective onboarding consist of extensive training, feedback, check-ins, and hands-on support. Of course, employees need to be integrated fully and not just slotted into their new roles. But improving and updating the onboarding plan will definitely help the companies to retain their top talent.

Conclusion

Onboarding, unlike orientation, doesn’t end at showing your new employee around. The process works to turn your new hire into an integral part of your company.

While the objectives of both traditional and remote employee onboarding are the same, the latter needs a specialized approach. Several components need to come together to build an effective remote employee onboarding process.

Given how crucial it is, it is advised that you make the best of your onboarding program by setting milestones and measurable phases to take critical feedback from both employee and employer.

Roobal Gupta

About Roobal Gupta

Roobal Gupta is a budding content writer and is the latest addition to our marketing team. She is an elite writer at Writer's Pocket. She also writes fiction and has a debut novel to her credit. She has also been awarded for "Top 100 Debut Indian Authors 2018-19". Like most other writers, she likes to read books and write blogs in her free time.

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