The Ins and Outs of Remote Onboarding
Covid-19 has drastically changed the way that we do business. From attending countless Zoom meetings to avoiding burnout when working from home, we have needed to quickly adjust the way that we complete our work.
The same is true of bringing on new employees. Quite obviously, it is extremely difficult for us to gather in one place and onboard our new colleagues. Instead, we need to do it remotely. Remote onboarding, however, has its fair share of nuances. Because of this, it is important to understand the differences between remote onboarding and in-person onboarding, why remote onboarding can be difficult, and what companies should consider so that they can successfully implement remote onboarding.
Differences and Challenges with Remote Onboarding
Remote onboarding differs from in-person onboarding in several ways. While this isn’t an exclusive list, these are some of the more notable differences and challenges versus in-person onboarding.
It goes without saying, but the main difference is that remote onboarding is conducted virtually while in-person onboarding is face-to-face. While we can try to replicate the process through Zoom or Teams, remote onboarding forces you and your colleagues to be on video calls for an extended period. This can be draining, so you need to keep this in mind.
Additionally, remote onboarding heavily relies on digital documents. With an in-person onboarding process, new hires may be completing paper documents. The advantage of digital documents is that your organization can quickly and securely gather and distribute information. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with paper, digital documents are increasingly preferred.
One of the main challenges with remote onboarding, however, actually relates to digital documentation. Specifically, this is the fact that remote onboarding requires you to be extremely diligent with your documentation.
With in-person onboarding, you may be able to get away with the fact that your documents don’t describe everything that is required in a certain position. When this occurs, the new hire can simply ask a colleague that is sitting next to them. With remote work, however, these opportunities are much rarer. Therefore, remote onboarding requires you to be extremely thorough when drafting your onboarding documentation. It isn’t impossible, but it requires more time to do so.
Related to this, a key challenge of remote onboarding is delivering the right support. Most new hires are extremely excited and eager to get started, yet they may need some hand-holding in the beginning. With an in-person onboarding process, you can quickly identify which employees will need some additional assistance. This is much tougher in a virtual environment. One way to mitigate this is to have constant check-ins with your new hires, where you can confirm that the entire group is on the same page.
Best Practices for Remote Onboarding
So considering some of these differences and challenges, how can you make your remote onboarding process successful? There are several key principles to keep in mind.
First, don’t be afraid to overcommunicate. This includes everything from offering a robust employee welcome pack to having frequent check-ins with your new hires. In the early stages of your new hire’s career, you want to ensure that they understand the role, recognize the expectations, understand the company’s culture, and more.
As part of communication, try your best to make the onboarding process as engaging as possible. While onboarding can be monotonous even in the best of times, it can be even more monotonous in a remote setting. You want to recognize your new hires and give frequent feedback. The last thing you want is for your new hire to already feel left out of your team. While remote work in and of itself can be isolating, try your best to be as inclusive and engaging as possible.
Finally, go out of your way to introduce your new hires to your entire team. If you have a larger organization, your new hire may find it extremely difficult to meet people remotely. Often, you or your colleagues need to be proactive here. Set up virtual coffee dates or something similar. This can go a long way in building long-term relationships between your new hires and your entire team.
Remote onboarding is becoming increasingly common in this era of Covid-19. While there are certainly benefits to this type of onboarding, you must be aware of its challenges and difficulties. By following the best practices described above, you’ll be in a much better position to make your remote onboarding a success.