Virtual Onboarding for Remote Working Employees
Onboarding is arguably one of the most important times in an employee’s tenure.
It is an opportunity to ensure expectations are set out, the company culture is highlighted; mission, vision and values, company goals are presented, in addition to being the time when new recruits are made to feel at home within their new team.
There are many professionals in the scientific industry that may be onboarded virtually to work remotely for an indefinite period of time. Report writers, toxicologists, quality and regulatory professionals, sales specialists, to name but a few, can all perform their roles effectively without entering the physical workspace.
When you think about it, virtual onboarding shouldn’t be too different from ‘in-house’ onboarding but perhaps a few adjustments will make it easier for the new employee to really engage with the process.
It can be daunting for any individual to start a new job, but to start when you have never seen office premises or met any members of your new team face-to-face can make the prospect all the more overwhelming.
You can never take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to onboarding as each company is different so it is important to ensure your process works for your team and business.
It goes without saying that every employee has certain day-to-day expectations to meet. Whether you measure these in targets, KPIs or another method, these need defining from the start, providing the new hire with a clear picture of what ‘good’ looks like for you.
When discussing your company handbook, commission structures, benefits packages, etc. you may also want to include details of other expectations relating to remote working, for example. An employee may be required to log on to the company CRM or intranet on or before their start time each morning. They may be required to attend team, divisional meeting s each week at a certain time. They may be expected to check in with their line manager once a day.
While most businesses will have a training program in place for new recruits, it is incredibly important to update this in-line with remote working. Where you may have a training manual that covers ‘high-level’ training, you must remember that ‘on the job’ training is much more difficult to do when you are not working in the same location as your employee. You are not going to be sat in an office to ensure that the employee has picked up all the necessary information to do the job well from day one ; so a detailed training manual with defined procedures may be incredibly helpful to your new recruit. Ensure you make yourself available for any questions that do arise and let the employee know that it is okay to ask questions as often as they need to. An employee who feels their line manager is too busy to help may be reluctant to ask for assistance where required. This can lead to mistakes being made that will take a lot longer to fix than the time required to answer a quick question.
Virtual conferencing software such as Teams has instant messaging capability which make this process so much easier and more streamlined as your employee can see when you are busy or available to chat. Most importantly, make sure you check in regularly to make sure the employee is doing okay and does not require assistance.
While you may have the most comprehensive training schedule delivered flawlessly via Teams/Google Hangouts/Zoom, etc, there will be so much new information for the individual to take on board in such a small amount of time that retention of everything will be impossible. Having documented guides available to review at their leisure will certainly help solidify the new knowledge gathered. Of course, one of the main advantages of video conferencing is that you can record these onboarding sessions for the employee to revisit later as required.
Team integration again is an essential aspect of onboarding. Ensuring the new recruit settles into the team well can hugely affect your employee retention rates. One of the biggest challenges companies are facing at the moment is maintaining their company culture while their teams are separated. Obviously, you can’t take your new recruit out for a meal or night out to welcome them to the team but there are many things you can do to offset this. You can host a virtual lunch or host a team quiz for example. There are new businesses cropping up often offering virtual escape room experiences that present excellent team building and ice breaking opportunities.
In conclusion, there is no need to completely stall the growth of your team and business due to onboarding challenges. Just a few tweaks to existing systems can make the process just as effective, if not more so, than if the employee was onboarded on site.