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The art of onboarding remotely: How to drive results

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Jaspreet Kaur change management, business transformation, Agile...

As we continue to face complex business challenges through COVID-19, one thing can remain overlooked: what happens if your business does not onboard people remotely? Then you don’t hire the right people and those business-critical projects get delayed – infrastructure capacity projects are delayed, regulatory projects become delayed, upgrading systems get delayed leading to systems turned off. 

Most firms realise by now that it is essential to embrace the ‘remote business’ culture and resource constraints should not lead to business-critical project delays. Many, however, are less clear about remotely bringing on new staff to complete necessary projects. 

How do you effectively onboard new people and make them a part of your business remotely? Here are some top tips and advice from businesses which have done this successfully. 

 

1. Provide a simple, accessible onboarding document 

Rather than mirroring regular practices, countless tools now allow you to send onboarding documents to your staff remotely. We’ve seen many of our clients use platforms such as DocuSignAdobe Sign and HelloSign. Taking advantage of this technology has not only helped them get documents to their new employees quickly and efficiently but also created a ‘safe place’ for the documents that employees can find easily. Not to mention, there has been a positive environmental impact.

 

2. Have a unified platform

A challenge of onboarding a remote employee is they miss out on the face to face interactions with other employees, where they can learn valuable information. Whether your new employees are working in a silo or working with others, provide a platform that supports the remote working culture for file management. One of our clients in Finland recently used G-Suite to successfully do just this when onboarding their first new remote worker. Nonetheless, there are many other platforms like Outlook’s Sharepoint and Huddle, which will give your staff access to essential items such as brand assets, company policies and training guides. Make all relevant company documents open to avoid creating an aloof environment. 

 

3. Remotely set (and manage) tasks 

Although it is vital to focus on your company goal, it is also important not to lose sight of the progress of your new remote staff. Now let’s change direction, onboarding remote workers may at first be a challenge to you, but so is the adjustment for your new employees. A simple way that we overcame this when we remotely hired Bernadette, a new team member in our Munich office, is we distributed her tasks with the use of Trello. However, some of our clients prefer to use other software such as Airtable or Monday.com, which will also allow you to attach documents or changes and can be worked on with the whole team. This will help them settle quickly and set the expectations that are in place for them, as opposed to sieving through lots of emails.

 

4. Fewer emails, more talk time

We’ve all been there – when someone sends a lengthy email and it takes you a long time to process it. It doesn’t lead to engagement or increase productivity – instead, it can be overwhelming. To get the most from your onboarding process, set in advance regular face to face meetings via teleconferencing. We asked some of our clients which platforms they thought were best when onboarding remotely. The majority of them said they preferred Skype for Business, however there is also other software such as Zoom or GoToMeeting that are efficient for 1 to 1’s, catch-ups and team meetings. This will encourage the employee to be a part of the team, start to form ‘regular’ office relationships and be clear on the company’s wider goals. We’ve found it better to over-communicate initially when a new employee is onboarded until normal remote conditions are established.

 

5. Establish a diary – with flexibility 

Thankfully software like Outlook CalendarGmail Calendar and Teamup can be accessed by all departments and staff, giving them time to plan around the diary. As a new employee remote or not, it can become very easy to get sucked into meetings when starting. That’s why at Venquis we use the calendar vigilantly to work around each individuals timetable, whilst ensuring there is room to take short breaks. Of course, don’t forget to schedule regular coffee catchups in the diary between your new staff and current staff – we’ve found them helpful to build stronger relationships amongst our team.

 

6. Personal touch – by post 

As well as posting and couriering new remote staff any technology they may require such as a laptop or company phone, one of our clients in Denmark posted their new remotely onboarded employee simple things such a company t-shirt, mug and a laptop. In return the employee said this made them feel more integrated and in unity with the rest of the team – fast-tracking the initial onboarding process. 

 

We understand it is natural to stress about remote onboarding if it’s new to you or your business. But if the consequences of not hiring the right people will result in business-critical project delays, then we hope you feel more confident to remote onboard now. Take advantage of the technology offered, don’t stop hiring the right people, and seek help from specialists if you need it.

We’ve been hiring remotely for our clients for years across Europe – see some of our work with brands such as CoopA.P. Møller Maersk and Burberry. Envision your transformation and make a change today