The most important part of onboarding employees (in-person or remote) is making connections. This includes introducing them to the people in their onboarding cohort, the people on their teams, and the people presenting the information about your company. Make sure that new hires know how they fit into the puzzle and how their work fits into the greater mission of the company.
At Aduro, we have employees who live all over the country. In fact, for certain teams, we intentionally hire people who do not live locally. As COVID-19 has required some workforces to shift to 100% virtual, we already felt equipped for certain processes like onboarding remote employees.
Here are some strategies we’ve refined over the years to onboard remote employees successfully:
1. Early Collaboration with IT
We work closely with our IT team to get a pre-configured computer sent out to new hires at their home before their first day of work.
2. First Day Video Conference
On the first day, set up a video conference with your People Operations and IT Departments.
- People Operations: Welcome, I9 verification, orientation to onboarding and contact information to support them in their transition to employee.
- IT Department: Works with new hires to get their systems up and running. Everyone comes with different levels of technical savviness and this allows for the most efficient and seamless setup for our new employees. Screen-sharing is a critical feature at this point so IT can help navigate through any initial challenges.
3. Communication with Hiring Manager
It’s important to keep our hiring managers informed through the process. Once the initial meetings with People Operations and IT have taken place we notify the hiring manager that the new employee is outfitted with their computer and ready to get started.
4. Onboarding Sessions by Department
When introducing remote employees to each department, make sure to include context like the history, culture and business operations. Onboarding should almost always include a brief meeting or update from all major departments so new hires understand how teams work together around scope of responsibilities
- Typically, these meetings would have been done in-person over the course of 3-4 full days. However, we strongly recommend that, when doing these fully remote, that you spread onboarding out over a couple of weeks with no more than two (one hour) sessions per day. Attention is hard to keep if a new hire is forced into hours of (mostly) one-way onboarding sessions.
- Ensure those leading onboarding sessions have been trained in how to do this. Examples include ensuring that they’ve introduced themselves and have asked new hires for names, positions, and backgrounds. Further, session leaders should ensure sessions have some interactive element (e.g. questions to spark conversation) so new hires don’t get stuck staring at a series of powerpoint slides presented online.
Onboarding is all about making the human connection (even if it is through a computer), helping people feel that they belong at their new company. Even in times of crisis, onboarding needs to create a consistent, thoughtful approach for new hires that make them feel welcome and ready to get to work.