• Westwood International

Remote Onboarding Checklist

Companies around the globe are rethinking their onboarding process as we head into 2022. This is new territory for everyone as we balance remote and hybrid teams, employee stress and anxiety, and significant disruptions in how we do business. In addition, companies are juggling new environments across the organization, from a slow return to business travel to major supply chain delays. But, with everything going on, it is critical to focus on integrating team members quickly and efficiently to help tackle these issues.

Onboarding plays a critical role in helping new employees settle into their new position and integrate with their teams. Of course, there are plenty of processes, such as setting up new hardware, completing paperwork, reviewing procedures, etc. But, beyond process is a significant culture component. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was ample opportunity for employees to connect in shared physical spaces in and out of the office. Training seminars, the coffee machine, and happy hours provided team members the chance to connect and grow as a team.

As you reconsider your hybrid onboarding process, here are four things you can do to improve remote onboarding:

Implement the Buddy System!

According to a Harvard Business Review article, assigning new employees an onboarding buddy significantly impacts productivity and leaves the new hire highly satisfied. Considering the costs of replacing employees, keeping satisfaction and productivity high will save in the long run. According to HBR, onboarding buddies provide context and institutional knowledge that the new employee couldn't access otherwise. Meeting even once in the first 90 days will have a positive impact. Increasing the meetings to monthly and weekly improves performance proportionally. While the article was published before COVID-19 shook the corporate world, the onboarding buddy tactic can still be applied over Zoom and Slack. Be mindful of the current employee's workload when assigning them to a new hire, though; give them the bandwidth to manage their buddy by reprioritizing responsibilities or reassigning projects.

Schedule Ample Time to Acclimate and Set Up a Home Workstation

Just because an employee is scheduled to start work on the first of the month doesn't mean you can't send them hardware and materials ahead of time. Give your new employee plenty of time to acclimate to your company's hardware, software, policies, and culture. Sending them their computer a few weeks ahead of time allows them to create their home workspace to start fresh and productive. They can also familiarize themselves with the company handbook, digital tools, and company expectations, so they aren't in a virtual whirlwind on Day 1. Make it easy for them to access any materials with digital copies that are engaging and easy to access.

Level up by connecting them with a mentor or their Onboarding Buddy to start asking questions and understanding the company culture before they start!

Prioritize Connection Over Process

The process component of onboarding can easily be recreated with digital signatures, video walkthroughs, and collaboration channels. But remember, the thing companies are lacking these days are those micro-moments at the water cooler. Introduce new hires to the team by creating open and safe spaces for new employees to connect with their teammates in a virtual setting. This could be a Zoom happy hour, a casual Slack channel, or an informal welcome session.

Need another idea? Check out our Culture Sessions, fun and engaging half-day virtual workshops designed to boost energy and productivity in your virtual workspace. These benefit new and long-standing employees alike!

Plan for Extensive 1-on-1 Time With Managers

People leaders have been challenged these last two years. Managing their team in this COVID environment forced them to adopt new tactics and strategies to keep productivity high and teams connected. According to research conducted by Microsoft, the remedy to disconnected teams lies in the team manager. The manager who "create[s] a supportive work environment where their people love the work and feel they have work-life balance" can help them feel more connected and, therefore, more productive.

It's easy to see how this benefit extends to the new team member! Creating extensive 1-on-1 time with new employees will give them the support they need to thrive early. Further research by Microsoft found that "when managers played an active role [onboarding], new employees were 3.5 times more likely to say they were satisfied with their onboarding experience. They were also 1.2 times more likely to feel that they were contributing to their teams' success." Finding time to connect with your new employee to gauge stress, set expectations, and connect might be the most crucial aspect when onboarding remote employees.

As we get further from the turmoil caused by the pandemic, we'll likely move forward in a hybrid work environment. Every week another company announces its commitment to at least partial virtual work hours. Looking to 2022, we'll undoubtedly be onboarding new employees from the office and the living room. Use these helpful tips with you to create a smooth onboarding experience.

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