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remote onboarding: a simple guide for recruiters and HR.

You can overcome remote onboarding challenges with advanced planning, appointed mentors, and step-by-step remote onboarding checklists.

Irrespective of how talented or experienced a new recruit might be, it takes time for them to find their feet in a new role. From different corporate cultures to unfamiliar technology, there’s a lot for staff to acclimatise to – quite apart from the responsibilities of their new role. As such, an effective onboarding process is essential to expedite their settling-in period and furnish them with all the relevant tools and knowledge. It’s also been reported that an effective onboarding process can double revenue growth and profit margins compared to inefficient strategies.

That process has been complicated by the switch to remote working, bringing up various remote onboarding challenges. It’s a lot harder to integrate into a department you’ve only met virtually, or complete training without someone on hand to answer questions as they arise. However, there are many ways to optimise remote onboarding, as we explain below.

remote control

Remote onboarding checklists should tick off the same outcomes as in-person onboarding. A new recruit should still be welcomed into the company by colleagues, guided through IT registration procedures by tech staff, and provided with any documentation or info necessary to finalise their HR registration.

Remote onboarding software can be used for all of the three main aspects of this induction process – organisational, informational, and social. The latter might involve video calls with managers and team calls with new colleagues. Information can be provided as tutorial videos, PDF files, Word-hosted worksheets, or online web forms. The hardest part is often the organisational side: It’s more challenging to set up access to an intranet when you’re reliant on remote desktop tools or step-by-step instructions.

overcoming remote onboarding challenges

The best way to approach this task is to put yourself in a new employee’s shoes on their first morning on the job. Draw up a standardised remote onboarding checklist, which can be adapted for different roles or departments. It might include answers to the following questions, in crystal-clear language (since there may not be people present to clarify ambiguities):

  • What documentation do they need to complete and sign, and how early can this be done?
  • What websites and portals do they need to be able to access?
  • What information is required to formalise their employment?
  • Which benefits and services are they entitled to, and how should these be claimed?
  • Who should they approach with questions or concerns in specific areas?
  • Who will they be working with, and what are these people’s roles within the company?
  • How can a new recruit introduce themselves (or be introduced) to remote colleagues?
  • Which resources can they access for advice, support, or information?
  • In what order should each of the above stages be tackled for optimal results?
  • Should any information be withheld or restricted until they’re fully onboarded?

Some of this will require dedicated remote onboarding software, though much of it can be handled via email or collaborative apps like Slack and Teams. Speaking of software (and hardware), pre-boarding ensures everything is ready for the employee’s first morning. Having to tell a new start their company laptop hasn’t arrived or their employee profile hasn’t been created sets a bad example, especially at a time when counter-offers from former employers may still be on the table.

how employees can help with remote onboarding challenges

Your remote onboarding checklist will grow over time, so don’t assume you’ll have everything perfected at the first attempt. Encourage open and honest feedback from new recruits – it’s far better to seek clarification at the outset (such as through an employee engagement survey) than to allow confusion to fester or timescales to slip.

Once any remote onboarding software has been installed, encourage existing staff to navigate it before it goes live. This beta testing will identify technical problems such as account registration glitches, gaps in the data that’s being provided, or problems with the scheduled order of events.

Appoint an existing employee as a buddy or mentor for each new start. This should ideally be someone with a similar background, a comparable role, or overlapping responsibilities so they know what’s expected of the new recruit. Regular two-way discussions between mentor and recruit will accelerate a sense of belonging while reinforcing corporate culture.

in it for the long haul

Finally, remember onboarding is not a closed-ended event. It may be months before new employees fully embrace their roles and responsibilities. Ongoing onboarding will reduce attrition, accelerate staff productivity and job satisfaction, and minimise any risk of miscommunication or missed expectations. This requires routine two-way communications and feedback, with stand-in staff ready to assist if key personnel are absent.

Great onboarding starts with the right recruitment process, which is where hireful comes in. Our applicant tracking software helps to ensure you’re onboarding the right staff, giving them the best possible chance of long-term success once onboarding is completed.

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