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Onboarding when home working

Oct 09, 2020

With working remotely becoming commonplace, how can we effectively onboard new members of a team in a virtual environment? Judith Kelly gives three tips on how to handle the onboarding process while working from home.  

Onboarding has suddenly become an everyday word in the vocabulary of recruitment and now plays an even bigger part of the recruitment process.

One of the major cultural shifts has been the move to remote work, as social distancing rules have forced people into working from home. Before the COVID-19 crisis, virtual or remote onboarding was largely reserved for employees with remote contracts or those living in a different country. With remote interviewing and working, this has become a crucial element of our new normal. How, then, do we ensure we successfully onboard new members of a team while working remotely?

Finding the right fit is always challenging, but the next hurdle is onboarding a new hire and integrating them into a company. Unfortunately, without the benefits of the water-cooler chats and the coffee machine moments, this can be difficult to achieve. Companies will have to update training and orientation procedures for all new employees now working remotely for the foreseeable future. The basics, however, remain the same.

1. Infrastructure and training

It is imperative to provide a new employee with all the tools needed on their first day. Hardware delivered and installed on time, software and access to the right platforms and information required for IT (passwords, anti-virus, etc.) is essential in preparing and welcoming them, showing them you are committed to helping them succeed and you want them onboard. Use interactive training where possible and ensure follow-ups and feedback are made regularly.

2. Communication and connecting

Communicating and connecting people is crucial to successful onboarding. For example, introducing and integrating new employees into the team with one-on-ones, video conference calls to assist in training and introducing company procedures. Assigning a ‘buddy’ will also help integrate them into the community of the business, even if remotely. A buddy will lead by example on communication procedures within the network and what is and what is not deemed appropriate. Great companies have always provided a platform for employees to build collaborative relationships and, even though this is not face-to-face, we still need to build these relationships.

3. Empowerment

New employees will be enthusiastic as they begin their journey. It is critical to get them involved in contributing and collaborating from the outset. People typically want to prove themselves and demonstrate that you’ve made a good decision hiring them. It may be tough to give them an independent project but assigning tasks with the opportunity to engage actively in reasoning, decision-making, and problem-solving shows them a positive early experience to achieving long-term success.

Judith Kelly is a Director at FK International.