A Guide to Remote Onboarding

Although, we recently crossed the grim milestone of over 100 lives being lost to the coronavirus at home, we have also seen our second wave of community spread almost flattened over the last few weeks, with the introduction of legislation to wear masks in public, our commitment to sanitizing and social distancing alongside the partial closure of certain sectors. We are a resilient people and we have been able to manage a pandemic that is increasing in intensity internationally.

Yet, as we enter the end-of-year celebrations of Eid, Divali and Christmas, there is also a feeling of rising optimism that 2021 may see the launch of a COVID-19 vaccine, therapeutics and ultimately global economic recovery. In response, businesses have to be ready for the expected upswing when the borders open and the economy reboots. The world has changed irrevocably and entrepreneurs have embraced the need to adapt and grow their business. Onboarding must continue, although the landscape has changed. Now more than ever, it is imperative that employees are selected carefully, trained effectively and provided with the coaching and networking tools to truly thrive in what some may see as an isolated environment.

In this new normal, small and medium businesses may want to heighten some of the usual HR processes and procedures as well as amp-up the pre-arrival preparations for the desired candidate, to ensure the employee feels part of a team. Take a look at these strategies for Remote Onboarding of new hires and feel free to share some of your innovations with us.

Effectively use video conferencing tools
Whether it’s Zoom, Google Meet or any other platform, try to schedule weekly team meetings. Many new employees have a heightened sense of anxiety, so help them relax and feel part of a supportive team - have cameras on so that faces are seen during sessions to enhance engagement. Secondly, the pre-arrival orientation process may have to be heightened to address any concerns. Try not to overburden the new recruit in the first week. You may even want to ensure all of the paperwork is completed before the first day of work.

Share Your Expectations Clearly
Optimising the orientation process is key to successful onboarding; make sure to share and discuss the expectations of the team leaders with the new recruit. Discuss the way forward in one-on-one meetings with the new recruit – use video, screen shares and community boards to ensure that work times, availability, response time and productivity expectations are clarified.

Clarify the Evaluation Process
Make sure that the employee is aware of not only the job description and deliverables, but also the evaluation process that may be done after the first month or third month, depending on the organization. Share specifics about the manner in which success is measured, the review process, deadlines and goals. Consistently communicate and ensure that training resources and feedback options are shared.

Communicate Early and Often
Now more than ever this new colleague is going to need assistance in navigating the work space, especially within the first 30-90 days. Ensure that you have mentors and team leaders who check-in frequently with their colleague, whether it’s via a quick phone call, video-conference or email, to help provide essential support. Also make related training and Human Resource materials available as well as insider tips for effective leadership – via blogs, e-newsletters or the intra-net.

Coach for Culture: Foster a Sense of Belonging
Just like a family, every organization has a distinct culture and during the onboarding process it is essential that a sense of belonging is communicated from Day One. A major pitfall of remote working is an overwhelming feeling of isolation and loneliness, so to effective engagement, and a seamless introduction into the team, you may want assign a buddy or mentor. Listen to the needs of the employee and try to manage your expectations. Try to be more flexible with deadlines, understanding that working remotely has its pitfalls as well as benefits. Be aware of the challenges faced by parents who also have to manage home schooling, cooking and cleaning, as well as the anxiety and isolation that single professional men and women face. Mental Health is key to our development and you should try and ensure the new employee has a wide supportive network of mentors and materials to ensure successful onboarding.

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