virtual onboarding

The employee onboarding process is one of the most responsible parts of creating a professional team. Even excellent specialists may suffer from the lack of open communication, unset expectations, or unclear responsibilities, which inevitably can result in decreased productivity.
Even more, misunderstandings may occur during remote work. It is vital to provide your new hires with a comprehensive onboarding process from their first day of work in order to avoid undesirable consequences. 
Below, you will find several onboarding tips that will enable you to help new employees adapt and integrate into your organization as comfortably as possible.

Pre-Onboarding Preparations

It is crucial to organize the onboarding process correctly to ensure that it will run smoothly and conveniently. First of all, deal with signing all the necessary documents before the new hire’s first day begins. It will allow allocating more time for human contact, which creates a positive first impression of your organization’s working process.
Secondly, make sure to prepare all the necessary information and tools that your new employee will need to work efficiently. Your remote employees will need:

  • shipping technical devices with pre-installed software (if the position requires specialized technology),
  • preparing a professional translation of technical documents if you operate in a multicultural environment,
  • creating an employee handbook or comprehensive SOPs – from explaining your company’s culture to presenting job responsibilities and detailed manuals on using separate programs and performing particular tasks,
  • allocating time for training and workshops on how to use all the equipment.

Regular communication is crucial, especially during the virtual onboarding, so consider reliable channels for communication and exchanging feedback when preparing the onboarding plan.

Warm Welcome

Hiring remote employees does not mean they should be treated differently from your in-house ones. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure that they feel no less than legitimate team members. Moreover, starting a new job is always stressful (yet exciting), and it is your opportunity to help new hires adapt as seamlessly as possible.
One of the best ways to introduce a new employee to their new team and other coworkers is to create a welcome letter. It should include brief information about the new hire’s previous experience, new role, and company’s expectations towards working together. 
You can send this letter via email or group chat. Also, consider arranging a conference call with team members on day one to make the overall onboarding experience even friendlier.

Prolong the Onboarding Process

It is crucial to allocate enough time for new hires to adapt, get familiar with software and company culture for effective onboarding. Sometimes (always) paying attention to new employees only on their first day is not enough, so ensure you support them minimum during the whole first week.
Nobody likes micromanagement but, in the very beginning, over-communication is much better than the lack of it. During the first week of a virtual onboarding, schedule daily check-ins via one-on-one video meetings, emails, or chat to discuss and adjust (if needed) their performance and clarify any concerns.
Even though your new hire will work remotely, do not neglect to provide them with an option to visit the company’s office or even get some training there. It will allow them not only to meet coworkers but also see how the organization operates daily.

Get Them a Work Buddy

Integrating into a new environment, a new team may be quite overwhelming, so it would be beneficial to get your new employees someone who will show them around, even if it is just figuratively. Assign your new hires a work buddy – a person whose primary responsibility is to help them deal with any possible obstacles during the onboarding process.
Work buddy should become the first person your new hires will reach out to when they have any questions, inconveniences, or need advice. Sufficient mentoring and subtle guidance will allow them to go through training materials at their own pace, be flexible with their workload, and avoid excessive pressure of dealing with hiring managers.

Collect Feedback

It is vital to get feedback about new employee’s experiences in order to improve the onboarding process. Ensure to ask them to share their opinion with the hiring department later to determine weak parts of the program. It will also help communicate with them regularly during the first couple of weeks to correct the program immediately if needed.
Provide new hires with the most convenient ways to share their thoughts. As not many people like to express their opinions directly, make sure there is an anonymous online survey or Google form to comfortably talk about their onboarding experience.

Conclusion

Onboarding new hires effectively allows a team to work successfully and avoid most misunderstandings in the long run. Virtual onboarding can seem challenging, but it will not differ from an in-house process with a comprehensive approach and all the necessary tools available.
Your main goal is to make new team members feel like they are in a supportive environment. To achieve this, bring more human relations into this internet-based process. Providing new hires with as much information as possible, being transparent and attentive, but also giving them time to adjust and the opportunity to express their opinions is crucial. 
Thus, you will end up not only with one satisfied new hire but with an excellent onboarding program for all your future remote workers.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska from Pexels