One of the primary goals of an onboarding process is to help new hires acclimate to the social and performance aspects of their job quickly and smoothly, allowing tight project deadlines to be met. With the recent COVID pandemic, several of York Solutions clients are making the transition to hire remote workers and are now faced with the challenge of creating an onboarding process that accomplishes this goal for virtual employees.

To ensure resources are “hitting the ground running” here are some suggestions for onboarding remote employees:

Shipment of Equipment

If security procedures and resources allow, you should ship the remote employee the necessary equipment directly to their home address by their first day. This allows new hires to have the appropriate tools available immediately, including any specific software needed for the job. Assuming the remote worker will go back to an office setting once COVID is under control, receiving the laptop on their first day will also allow a smooth transition back.

Start Kit – Virtual!

There are several housekeeping items that Account Executives typically provide new consultants on their first day when meeting onsite. With the shift in working remotely, it’s crucial these items are still provided. Details such as the timekeeping process, system login information, I9 verification, and benefits enrollment can be provided in a virtual start kit or welcome package.

Expectation Setting

Arrange a time directly with the new employee to go over expectations on their first day. Both you and the remote worker should be clear on the company’s mission, immediate team goals, and individual expectations. You should also establish time frames for one on one meeting, documentation sharing, and milestones.

Providing the new hire with documentation of your project goals and process will give them a tool to reference for guidance and answers throughout their engagement.

Face-to-Face Connections

If time and resources allow, you should use video conferencing for all team meetings and collaboration sessions. This allows new hires to be more comfortable in conversations, observe body language, and create bond and rapport amongst team members.

Connecting Team Members

Building a relationship with team members while working remotely can be a challenge. It’s important for directors, managers, and coworkers to go out of their way to make sure new remote employees feel welcomed and feel comfortable enough to share their thoughts.

A simple way to do this is to have the team introduce themselves and give a high-level overview of their role during the new employees the first week. This can be done during the daily standup via video or a separate welcome meeting.

Another great way to build a connection between new hires and remote employees is by linking the new employee with a seasoned team member… very similar to the “buddy system”. The purpose of the mentorship is to get a better understanding of the business goals and values, as well as act as a point person for any one-off questions.

Refine the Onboarding Process

Find out what works best for onboarding remote workers by consulting those who’ve had similar experiences. Also, asking for feedback from those you’ve onboarded thus far will likely have the best insight to share. Asking questions such as: What information did you find helpful? What from your onboarding experience was missing? How can we improve it moving forward?

Lastly, share knowledge. With social distancing in full swing, onboarding remotely is going to be a new experience for many. By sharing tips and tricks as well as improving the onboarding process as time goes on, you can only help remote workers adjust to their new roles quicker as well as help future remote hires.

Written by: Kara Emmer