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Tips for Onboarding Remotely


Let’s face it, none of us have ever had to experience a situation quite like the one we are in today. Those of us in the recruitment sector are keen to keep the job market moving and educate our clients on how to make those essential hires and hopefully mitigate any long-term impact on business growth and the economy.

There can be hesitancy to complete a hiring process remotely, but actually plenty of businesses have been doing this for years! By adapting your business and making a few extra considerations, you can vastly reduce your risk, secure business critical hires during a challenging time and ultimately safe-guard your business for when we get out the other side!

  1. Successful onboarding begins in the recruitment process.
    1. Have clear expectations of what the role will look like during lockdown.
      1. Think about hours/days, day to day tasks, training required and the steps you have already put into place to help employees work from home.
      2. Communicate this clearly so candidates are aware of the expectations and accountability throughout the process. You don’t want to get to the end of a process and find out the candidate cannot accommodate the working from home requirements!
    2. Put increased focus on your culture and employer brand to help your candidates understand who you are, and what it will be like when you return to BAU.
      1. Get more of the team involved in the interview process. TIP: Some of the recruiting interviewing platforms are releasing a panel interview feature to allow more people to get involved at once!
      2. At offer stage, host virtual ‘drinks’ to introduce your potential new starter to the rest of the team and key members of the business.
      3. Direct people to your social media to show them the culture. Do you have photos or videos of the office or the local pub where you’ll be spending Friday nights? Do they have an opinion on whether Barney or Henley is the cutest office dog?
    3. Make sure you have mapped out your processes internally and know exactly what you need to do.
      1. Do you have access to the right systems, documents, technology etc. to onboard someone remotely.? It can be damaging to your brand, and waste of your time and your candidates time, to get all the way through the process and realise not having a printer at home during lockdown has put a halt on the process!

  1. You’ve found the perfect candidate and they love what your business has to offer! Now it’s time for the paperwork!

    1. There are many environmental benefits to being paperless, but lockdown is a great opportunity to review your processes and see how you can use different tools to make the process smoother and reduce your reliance on hardcopies.

    2. Our favourite G-word rears it’s head here too. GDPR is more relevant than ever when we are working from home, so it’s essential that you have safeguards in place for protecting data that might be sent to you.

      1. Make sure that new starter information is being sent in a secure way and someone’s bank details are not just freely available on the family computer! Tools like ThreatAware can help you manage your teams security whilst working from home.

      2. Even better, there are online onboarding platforms like Webonboarding that allow your new starter to fill all of this information in remotely and securely as well as significantly reducing the admin time for you!

  1. Before Day One

    1. Make sure you’ve adjusted your usual onboarding process to account for lockdown.

      1. Are your supply-chains affected for getting the right equipment out to people? Do you need to give IT extra time to get laptops and phones set up?

      2. Do you need to update your staff handbook with your COVID-19 policies?

      3. How will day 1 be different and have you planned for how that time will be spent? That tour around the office showing where the fire exits are and how to use the coffee machine won’t be necessary (but don’t forget to do this when we are back!).

    2. Introduce them to the team before they start. 

      1. Who are the key people to speak to if they have any questions, whether HR or a manager and who will they be working with for the first few weeks.

    3. If possible send out a welcome pack. 

      1. We usually send a box of branded bits and bobs, some chocolate and a handwritten welcome note… However, I appreciate that many of us (me included) definitely didn’t bring any of that stuff home so think of ways to improvise! 

  1. Day One

    1. By this point, you’ve absolutely bossed your planning and know exactly what needs to happen when and with whom. Still be mindful that joining a new business is overwhelming at the best of times and just because we can skip out on the coffee tour doesn’t mean you can cram loads more tasks in!

    2. Little things on the first day can make a huge difference!

      1. Can you arrange for a group lunch over video? It’s great to meet friendly faces from the office that might not be in your immediate team, but you’ll sharing coffees with once in the office!

  1. Week One

    1. Make sure you’ve ticked off all your usual onboarding and training processes. If it’s your first time onboarding remotely, also make sure you take note of any unanticipated challenges for next time!

    2. During these times, there needs to be a bigger focus than ever on embedding new starters into your culture. These people are leaving jobs with familiar faces to come to somewhere totally new, during a time of extreme social isolation.

      1. Set up informal social buddies and encourage your employees to get new starters involved with group chats and ‘classic bants’…

    3. ‘Get to know your colleagues’ game.

      1. When our academies start, we find this is a great way to get to know everyone. We get facts about every single employee and give the new starters bingo sheets. During the welcome party they have to speak to everyone to work out which fact matches which person. This could be a week long task to encourage your new starter to get face time with as many people as possible and get to know the quirks of your team!

    4. Socials

      1. Keep as much of your usual onboarding activities the same as possible, and just adapt to the times. We’ve been having Thursday pub quizzes and Friday drinks as normal and it’s a great way to make any new starter feel part of the family!

Remember a great onboarding process can reduce the amount of time someone takes to get up and running (great for the costs), increase engagement and commitment (essential for every business to weather this storm) and increase wellbeing and reduce stress (something we all need a little of right now). If you can nail all of this during lockdown think of the position you’ll be in when we’re back to normal!