At intelliHR we have become aware of the growing pains of expanding our team while working remotely. We thought that we would interview our newest team members, their hiring managers and their community buddies to provide some useful tips for those going through the same remote onboarding adventure.
Getting started with your team member:
Before we started largely- and abruptly- working from home, it’s likely that a new employee’s computer, second screen, stationary and maybe some company swag were patiently awaiting their arrival. You may now have to consider how new employees working remotely will be able to get their technology, paperwork and anything else they physically need to succeed at working from home. Will it be delivered, or do they have to meet someone to pick it up? Do you have their email address and all their login access set up for the systems they’ll need to access on Day 1? Are there things your new employee can complete prior to Day 1 to streamline the onboarding process? And most importantly, will they still get their swag bag?!
We spoke to our onboarding extraordinaire Dave from Customer Success about how he approached the task. Fortunately, he was able to organise a team member to deliver laptop, monitor and supplies to his new starter the day before their start date with special considerations taking for hygiene and social distancing. This allowed for a prompt start for their first day and a warm welcome with the new swag.
Not everyone happens to have an electric adjustable desk or a spare ergonomically sound chair ready to go. A home-office stipend may also need to be temporarily introduced as an employee benefit to ensure your new employee has the proper workstation set-up at home.
You may also need to review your onboarding process more holistically to see if there are some things that your company would normally do in an in-person onboarding process that may need to be re-ordered, postponed, eliminated or added.
The Human Touch:
Have you communicated with your new employee the expectations for Day 1? Things like letting them know the expected start time to be online, any particular attire that is expected of them from the waist up and who from the company will be reaching out to them? It’s also important to let them know at what time and on what communication platform they’ll be needing to utilise and provide them with links and login information.
New employees need to know who they can ask questions to during onboarding while they are trying to find their feet. This is especially the case since they cannot roll their chair over to the person next to them for a quick question and are likely self-conscious about not wanting to “nag” someone with emails, Zoom, Hangout or Microsoft Team invites throughout the day for the roadblocks they may encounter.
We had a chat to Savannah, our newest Customer Support Officer about what she liked from her remote onboarding experience. A clear and concise plan for training and onboarding exercises with notes about who will be providing the training and how to access it was what she found helpful. Tasks were set off the back of training to assist with the knowledge being instilled and support buddies were available for calls afterwards if any more assistance was needed.
Does your company or team have a structured training process for new employees to follow, or someone that ensures they are getting the training they need? If not, this is the perfect time to standardise what they will need to know, and have someone designated to helping them succeed. The last thing you want is to not properly develop your new talent, or lose visibility of someone who could potentially be struggling. More guidance may be required during a remote on-boarding experience to show your new employee the ropes.
It’s possible that KPI’s, performance metrics and expectations of what is to be accomplished during probation periods may have to be reconsidered as it may take a bit more time for your new employee to get up to speed, especially if both of you were not anticipating a remote onboarding process. However it is important for you as the manager to outline some achievable tasks to be completed on a daily or weekly basis so that your new team member can see that they’re starting to provide value.
Welcoming your new starter to the business
Not everyone handles starting a new job just as calmly as a cucumber, and adding the current situation as fuel to the fire, their anxiety levels could increase, especially since going through a remote onboarding process may be new for them too. This might be the right time to consider adding a wellness and mental health component to your onboarding process.
Consider how your company may need to increase the frequency of touch points with your new employee given they are working from home and likely haven’t been able to experience the company culture yet first hand. In what ways can you help remotely indoctrinate a new employee into your company culture and etiquette now that they cannot observe and experience it in person, especially if they are coming from a very different one at their previous job?
To ease the transition, consider starting a buddy system where your new employee is paired with a peer in their team and/or the business, and encourage them to be in contact with each other prior to Day 1. Are you already hosting virtual social gatherings with your team? Invite your new employee along so they can e-meet the team, especially if there is time between accepting their offer and their start date. This will also help your team to get comfortable with and excited about their new addition. One of the ways that we have helped facilitate this is through adding new employees into morning tea meetings with members from different teams and other social video calls.
Your new employee may also be robbed of the glorious and ceremonious opportunity on Day 1 to be paraded around the office for introductions to people whose names they won’t remember and embarrassment later upon running into them at the chilled water Zip tap. Why should they get to miss out on all this “fun”? Consider hosting a virtual meet and greet for them to meet the rest of their fellow employees, to make it more manageable, we arrange these on a department basis so each new starter gets to meet individuals and also understand about the different teams. Share the company org chart with them so they can get an idea of who’s who in the zoo. Maybe even create a digital seating chart with everyone’s names an faces, which shows your new employee where they will sit once we’re able to return to the office to help them get oriented.
Have you checked in with your new employee to see if a flexible work schedule needs to be considered, particularly if they need to manage work with caring for dependents?