The way you integrate a new hire into your organization has a huge impact on that employee’s motivation and engagement.
Done well, onboarding helps new employees understand expectations, attitudes, tools, policies, and processes. It also helps them develop a sense of connection and camaraderie with both their team and the larger organization.
But that’s not easy to accomplish when people are working from home.
Team members who don’t share the same physical space aren’t able to absorb company culture and norms organically. They can’t just shadow a colleague all day and drop in on casual conversations around the water cooler.
So how can you help remote employees get set up for success right from the get-go?
Check out these best practices for virtual onboarding.
SET UP AND TEST TECHNOLOGY BEFORE THE FIRST DAY
You want to make sure new workers have everything they need to hit the ground running on the first day. And for remote employees, that starts with technology.
Coordinate with the IT department to get new hires the user accounts and credentials they need to do their jobs.
Before they report for their first day, have people log in to basic systems like email, videoconferencing, project management software, or the company intranet.
If you’re providing a laptop or other equipment, make sure it arrives well in advance.
If people will be using their own personal devices, it’s important to explain security best practices around things like password selection, content storage, and the use of public Wi-Fi.
PROVIDE COMPREHENSIVE DOCUMENTATION
All new hires need resources to help them navigate their new role. That’s why documentation is so important.
You need to address logistical issues like how to sign up for benefits, what communication methods are used and when, and who to contact for IT support.
Supplying the employee handbook is key. But some companies go beyond that by providing a welcome package that offers details on all internal tools and includes a list of staff along with their positions and contact info.
Some packages also outline company expectations around dress codes, working hours, and virtual meeting etiquette.
It can also be helpful to offer instructional videos or training modules that new employees can follow and complete on their own.
SHOW THEM HOW THEY FIT IN
Developing a sense of the larger organization can be difficult in a virtual context. It can be very easy for a remote employee to only become familiar with a small circle of colleagues.
But it’s important for every employee to understand company dynamics and how their role contributes to the overall corporate mission.
So provide new hires with an organization chart and explain how the different teams function. This can be done as part of the documentation step mentioned above.
When the new employee reports for work, set up video calls to introduce everyone and what they do. Being able to put a face to a name can go a long way toward helping remote employees understand company structure.
But watch out for Zoom fatigue. Schedule breaks so that you don’t overwhelm your new hire with too many online meetings.
USE A BUDDY SYSTEM
Adjusting to a new job can make people feel anxious and stressed, particularly if they don’t know who to approach when they have questions.
A designated onboarding buddy can be a valuable resource to help new hires connect to the organization and get the support they need over the first few weeks.
A buddy can walk the new team member through common tools, point them to relevant sections of the employee handbook, and answer questions about company culture or norms.
Ideally, the buddy should be someone other than the employee’s manager so that they feel more comfortable asking about anything.
FACILITATE SOCIAL CONNECTIONS
One of the most challenging parts of remote onboarding is helping distributed workers feel connected to each other.
You need to encourage non-work-related communication so that new hires and established staff members can get to know one another as people, not just as colleagues.
That tends to happen naturally when people are all in the same office. They talk about their pets/kids/hobbies over lunch or before a meeting gets underway.
But you have to be much more intentional about it in a virtual setting.
So try setting up messaging channels where team members can have casual conversations. Or arrange for virtual coffee chats where everyone shares a few fun facts about themselves.
Developing social connections is essential for fostering a sense of belonging and building strong working relationships.
WANT TO LEARN MORE ABOUT BEST PRACTICES IN HR?
Have a look at the Human Resources Management certificate from Kompass Professional Development.
The program covers recruitment, onboarding, employee relations, and more. It’s aimed at managers and leaders who are new to HR and want to expand their skills.
Training is delivered online and can be completed in just three to six months.
Click below to get more details on courses, costs, and start dates.