How to onboard employees remotely during COVID-19

How to onboard employees remotely during COVID-19

COVID-19 has affected all elements of business practice, and onboarding is no exception. 

With remote work now the norm in many sectors, business owners must refine their onboarding strategy to provide new employees with a comprehensive overview of the business, its challenges and its opportunities - and all while cultivating a feeling of belonging.

Achieving this at a time when new employees might not meet a colleague face-to-face for many months is difficult, so onboarding should begin at the moment an offer is made. 

Here are our best practice guidelines to help you in this new process: 


1. Invest time ahead of their start date

Prepare a comprehensive information pack for new employees to review before they start. It is also advisable to arrange virtual introductions with key managers across the business ahead of them starting. 

This will give staff the opportunity to answer any questions new employees may have about the information pack - there to help new staff understand the business. This dialogue will also help establish some familiarity between the new employee(s) and key staff. 

2. Provide new employees with essential information only

When working from home, new employees may become overwhelmed when given too much detail at once. This may cause them confusion, stress and frustration; limiting their ability to integrate into the business.

You should therefore prioritise the most important elements of their training – teaching them only the skills that are absolutely essential to be able to do their job satisfactorily – and, for now, put the other non-essential parts on hold.

3. Become more flexible

During the onboarding process, managers should look to adapt their schedules to allow time for training each day. New employees can be asked to vary their working hours so that they can receive training outside peak times.

4. Reevaluate how you establish your expectations 

In this moving landscape, adapt to a less rigid approach to agreeing specific objectives.

The days of saying to someone on their first day ‘we expect X,Y and Z’ have, for now, gone. Instead, ask new staff to first integrate themselves into the business and build up their knowledge base, and then work with your teams to set achievable deliverables within the context of the current working environment.

5. Match your new employees with a remote mentor

To alleviate the potential for feelings of alienation among new employees, assign each of them a mentor. This will provide new staff with a contact for when they have questions, while also bolstering the confidence and morale of the mentor by giving them more responsibility.

The mentors should be encouraged to schedule a daily call/video chat to help new employees feel like part of the team and to help them establish their first close professional relationship with someone within the organisation. 

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