The COVID-19 pandemic spurred most offices to shift to a work-from-home model practically overnight. Even now, when things are starting to reopen, many of the jobs that can be done remotely still are, and this is likely to continue for months, if not years. This makes it highly likely that sooner or later, you will need to bring on new hires through virtual means.
This doesn’t have to be complicated or scary. Keep in mind that you’re still doing what you’ve always done with onboarding—setting the stage for the new hire to find success—just in a new way. Here are some tips:
Break It Up
Long Zoom meetings can be stressful for anyone. Instead, think through everything you normally cover in onboarding and create a schedule that breaks it up over several sessions. Involve as many team members as possible so that the new hire gets a chance to get to know everyone, rather than just one or two people. You can also create short videos, from a “Welcome” given by the company President to a presentation on workflow given by a Team Lead, that you send to each new hire to review at their convenience.
Don’t Forget the Paperwork
An important part of onboarding is documentation. Create a checklist with links to the documents that the employee needs to review and virtually fill out or sign. Send the checklist with your initial onboarding email, and be sure to set a deadline for completion.
Provide Needed Technology
Whether you supply hardware such as laptops or ask your new hires to use their own, you will likely need to provide access to your company’s platforms and systems. You can send links and step by step instructions by email, but it’s also a good idea to ask your IT contact to set aside some time for questions. If your company is particularly tech-heavy, consider scheduling every new hire for a one on one phone session with someone from IT.
A crucial part of onboarding that should not be overlooked is the social side. Remote hires don’t get to go out to lunch with their new colleagues or stand around and talk sports at the water cooler. Build-in breakout sessions and time for a virtual chat. You might even consider scheduling a virtual lunch or two during the first week. Also, pair each new hire with someone experienced who can act as a mentor and buddy, and encourage that person to reach out both professionally and personally to the new employee.
After onboarding is complete, it’s important to check in on your new employee periodically. Schedule a one on one meeting a week later, and then another meeting a few weeks after that. Let the employee know how to give feedback and to whom, and encourage them to reach out whenever needed.
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