Excerpted from an Enterprisers Project Blog by Jo Deal

This year, businesses across the globe went from talking about remote working plans to rapidly putting them into action. As a result of the pandemic, millions of people – including many who had never regularly worked from home – have been suddenly forced into their home offices.

With no physical office to welcome and connect new employees, how should the onboarding process adjust to match the times?

Organizations that were already equipped with remote work and collaboration tools have managed to continue many business operations as usual. However, many face the daunting task of having to fit processes such as hiring and onboarding new talent into this new environment. With no physical office to welcome and connect new employees, how should the onboarding process adjust to match the times?

Virtual onboarding: Best practices and tips
Let’s look at some tips for how to onboard new employees in a fully remote work environment while ensuring that they are set up for success and feel like part of the team.

Establish personal connections
Traditionally on an employee’s first day, they would be shown around the office and introduced to their coworkers and new team members. Establishing these connections is an integral part of the onboarding process and should not be forgotten just because there’s no physical office to tour.

Use virtual meetings to their advantage: By leveraging virtual meeting tools, welcome introductions can be just as seamless and effortless as they would be in person, allowing new hires to connect and engage with their managers and teammates.

Consider a “welcome buddy”: To provide even more direct support on the first day, the HR department can assign new hires a virtual “welcome buddy.” This might be an existing employee of similar rank, or a friendly face from the office who has gone through the traditional onboarding process and can advise on how to have a successful start at the company.

We’re lucky to be able to lean on our own technology, GoToMeeting, to facilitate these introductions. But whatever your platform your organization uses, encourage video during these introductory meetings to kick-start deeper connections and limit any feelings of isolation new employees might have.

Additionally, “face-to-face” interactions can help bridge potential communication gaps by providing the ability to express tone and body language. These seemingly simple benefits can help convey a company’s workplace culture in more meaningful ways than written communication or corporate assets.

Design a roadmap for success
After the first day or week, it’s important to not let the onboarding process fizzle out.

Establish a “meet-and-greet” roadmap: One that stretches out several weeks can help connect new employees with other individuals they should know to build their internal networks while remote. This also helps them learn more about the company by talking to employees in other departments and gain a deeper understanding of the roles and responsibilities of their colleagues.

Consider a virtual mentor: Additionally, assigning new employees a virtual mentor who can build them a customized learning path can speed up the onboarding time and allow for more learning and growth. Taking time in the beginning to fully immerse new employees in any available educational resources sets them up for success and gives them a strong foundation to build on. In the long term, a mentor can be an invaluable resource for advice and feedback and can help define their career path at the company.

Don’t be afraid to adjust the new hire learning journey: Consider rolling out information and training to new hires at a slower pace. It can be overwhelming to be onboarded in a completely remote environment. By spacing out learning, you will give the new hire a chance to absorb the information and ask questions instead of inundating them with content all at once.

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