Chief Commercial Officer Unily
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Five secrets to successful remote onboarding during a crisis

The Covid-19 pandemic has made remote working non-negotiable, which means onboarding practices need to evolve to keep up with the needs of the times.

24th Apr 2020
Chief Commercial Officer Unily
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Woman clerk sitting holding note paper sticker with welcome aboard phrase
iStock/FTiare

Space travel. Robots. A sub-four minute mile. Many of the world’s greatest breakthroughs were previously deemed out of reach. The concept of virtually integrating a new employee into your workforce may seem similarly unfeasible, but it is now both a reality and a necessity.

Whether your new hire is down the hall or across the world, bringing workers up to speed can prove challenging. According to Gallup, only 12% of employees strongly believe their organisation excels at onboarding.

Communication is always an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to remote onboarding, but it is particularly imperative during times of crisis.

Enterprises that find themselves among this select few will enjoy a host of pay-offs including higher levels of employee engagement, improved retention rates, and next-level productivity. What is the common thread connecting these superior organisations? A strategic approach that provides employees with the tools, capabilities, and connections needed to hit the ground running.

Roll out the virtual welcome mat

Typically, remote work may be an occasional option or perhaps a logistical necessity. During a crisis like the Covid-19 pandemic, it transforms into a non-negotiable to protect everyone’s safety. Consequently, onboarding practices must evolve to keep pace with the needs of the times.

To make the most of remote work, leaders must accommodate an influx of employees operating far outside the traditional office. Part of this arrangement should include a comprehensive onboarding strategy specifically devised to overcome the reoccurring challenges associated with remote work – namely, poor connectivity, a lack of accountability, and frequent misunderstandings.

By utilising the right set of next-generation digital tools in combination with a strategic approach, leaders can improve outcomes on all fronts and ensure that every new starter receives a warm welcome that optimises their workplace experience from day one.

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Five tips for best-in-class onboarding

As the prevalence of remote work continues to climb, the following insights can be used to devise an unparalleled virtual onboarding strategy:

  1. Go the extra mile by pre-boarding
    If you wait until your new hire’s start date to begin welcoming them onboard, you’re already behind. Lay the groundwork for a flawless first week by creating a portal specifically designed for onboarding. Ensure that this resource can be accessed through an email account or Linkedin profile so that recent joiners can get familiar with training materials and introductions, even before their user credentials are sorted.
     
  2. Lean in to video
    Remote employees may not need a tour of the office, but that doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from some face time. Video webinars, virtual conference calls, and one-on-one catch-ups hosted on your intranet are engaging and interactive mediums for new starters to learn about your organisation, forge connections, and develop authentic dialogues.
     
  3. Centralise resources
    Learning the ins and outs of a workplace takes time. Without a desk mate to turn to, the adjustment can feel particularly overwhelming for remote employees. Reduce stress levels and optimise productivity by bundling together essential resources and training documents.
     
  4. Keep new hires in the know
    Every employee appreciates timely updates, but frequent communication is particularly crucial for remote workers. Prevent potential information gaps by providing users with timely content tailored to their role and region. Leaders should strive to create compelling email updates and strategically disseminate targeted content to specific segments of their workforce to ensure every message resonates.
     
  5. Seek out feedback
    Even the best onboarding strategies have room for improvement. After every training period, those overseeing onboarding processes should seek out feedback to inform future strategy. Create compelling surveys and distribute them to targeted audiences for specific insight into your training protocols from those who are most familiar with current processes. Utilise analytics to pinpoint takeaways and monitor progress.

Remote onboarding during a crisis

Communication is always an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to remote onboarding, but it is particularly imperative during times of crisis. Employees who start a new job during a period of chaos have a double dose of uncertainty on their plates: the world around them is changing rapidly while their day-to-day routine faces a similar level of upheaval.

Consequently, leaders who plan to hire remote employees during a crisis must go the extra mile to ensure these new starters feel connected to their organisation and armed with necessary knowledge from the start. Demonstrate a culture of transparency by prioritising facts in your internal messaging, including communications from senior leadership.

Interested in this topic? Read Onboarding: How to succeed with your remote team.

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