Virtual Onboarding — The Tools You Need to Make it Work
A few months ago, you may not have even entertained the thought of working in a fully remote role, but now that’s the unavoidable norm. And it’s the norm that’s being widely accepted by workers. According to Hired’s State of Remote Work Report, 97% of respondents said they are either very open or somewhat open to remote onboarding at a new company, so long as they have the right resources and support.
Although many workers are open to onboarding at a new company, it’s another feat altogether to onboard new employees virtually. In fact, according to bambooHR, onboarding should go beyond a few weeks, actually extending up to a few months. Of course this is dependent on role, company maturity etc., but when it comes to remote onboarding, a process that requires more intentionality, documentation, and creativity, it will take a longer time to get new remote employees feeling connected and productive. As such, it’s valuable to think about remote onboarding as a series of phases.
We have a blog post that goes into top tips on evaluating and creating your onboarding strategy according to these phases, but before you dive in, ask yourself if your organization has a strong foundation for collaboration in place. Do new employees have a way to access core documents that will help them understand your company’s history and culture? Do they have a way to learn and be trained easily? Do they have a means to connect with their coworkers in a casual, social context? These are questions to answer before you start designing your onboarding process.
Ensure access to internal knowledge
If you’ve ever started in a new role, you would know that your first few days consist of figuring out your company’s work dynamics, policies, vision, and mission. This information is often what you have to absorb first before even getting started on understanding and training for your role. A lot of this learning comes from your first day orientation, individual training, and more, but oftentimes if you have questions, the most valuable source of information comes from your other coworkers. As a new remote worker, quickly tapping someone on the shoulder when you have a question, or observing the behavior of others in your office, is more difficult. It’s vital that new remote employees have seamless access to the relevant information they need to then dive into their role. Whether it’s an organized shared Google Drive or a company Slack with important information pinned to shared channels, new hires need easy access to this information.
Want to go one step further? ProProfs Knowledge Base provides an easy way for you to create an online employee handbook to familiarize new hires with this information. Rather than bombarding new hires with a series of emails on their first day, you can direct them to a company-wide knowledge platform that can be accessed on multiple devices.
Design easily digestible learning paths
For roles that require more training, it can be difficult to hold hour long training sessions over video call. On top of regular team meetings, new hires can experience Zoom fatigue by the end of their first week. Leverage some creativity to think of ways to change up the way the new remote employees are trained. Whether it’s video lessons that team members can record before the new hires arrive or self-led scavenger hunts through your company’s online resources, there are ways to make training more interactive. One way to change it up is to create personalized learning paths for new hires to complete in their first few weeks. These can be set up way in advance of the new hire’s first day.
Lessonly is a learning software that allows you to transform important work knowledge into lessons that get new hires up to speed more quickly. New hires can practice and repeat lessons, track current projects, and get feedback from coworkers along the way.
Create opportunity for connection
A typical day in the office created the opportunity for countless meaningful connections: meeting a new colleague at the coffee machine, bumping into someone in the hallway, meeting up for lunch. These interactions are what create the professional network of team members inside an organization. It is this professional network that team members rely on to solve critical problems when they arise. The nature of remote work vastly limits the opportunities for these unexpected collisions that form the basis of new hires’ organizational understanding. Luckily, there are a number of tools that can help new hires get connected to their teams.
Jam and Donut are innovative platforms that recommend and schedule video conversations or chat sessions between colleagues in an organization. The professional equivalent of a blind(ish) date, these tools work to spark creative collisions and ensure that people can meet their peers and build a network in an organization that expands beyond the seven people they work with on a daily basis.
But, you can only forge connections with people you can get to know. That’s where Sift comes in. Sift is a modern people directory that helps with these situations where you just need an easy way to find the right person in your organization. Sift automatically pulls data from the existing systems your company uses while allowing everyone to curate their own personal profile so they can share their skills, experience, what projects they are working on, and a bit about what makes them unique. Profile details are wrapped in a hyper-simple to use search that surfaces all information in a single search box. As a new hire, this information is critical to keeping connected and productive while onboarding.
Remote onboarding might not seem so different from traditional in-person onboarding, but when information exchange, training, and connection are all virtual, you need to approach the process with more intention and creativity. Think about the infrastructure of tools you currently have in your organization and if it supports your ideal remote onboarding experience. Once you do this evaluation, is when you can start diving into creating an onboarding program that will delight new hires. If you’re already at that stage, check out our blog post on our top tips.
Want to learn more about how Sift has helped onboard remote employees? Check out our case study featuring Ping Identity.
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Note: This article originally appeared on Sift’s Blog