The world has just changed. With merely a few days’ notice offices and factories across the UK have seen their entire workforce move to “working from home”. While many businesses are placing their teams on furlough and freezing recruitment, there are industries and businesses where it has never been more important to recruit and onboard employees quickly and efficiently. But how do they do it when no one is left in the office?

As a famous Meerkat once said “Simples”.

Fundamental to any great onboarding experience is doing the basics brilliantly – thanks to the awesome Julia Smith at People Science Consulting for teaching me this. Doing the basics brilliantly is even more important when you’re onboarding someone remotely as it is critical to building their confidence. Confidence is about a new colleague feeling they have made the right decision and is crucial to building and maintaining their engagement. A lack of confidence will invariably lead to a premature exit and in some cases, lead to anxiety, disruptive behaviour or poor performance.

So, let me tell you the 7 brilliant basics to successfully onboarding employees remotely.

  1. First things firstOnboarding starts the very moment you make your job offer, technically some people will call this pre-boarding, but the point is the same, you’ve absolutely got to nail the employee experience from this very first engagement. Sharing the job offer, contract, new starter forms, payroll requests etc can all be done electronically no problem, but think about the employee experience. 15 different forms of repetitive information across 7 different emails, followed by 3 different people following up isn’t a good experience.
    Software like Human has a real advantage here as it provides a great first impression for your new colleague and gives them everything, they need in one place. Contracts are signed electronically, and the information is only entered once. Plus, your own lovely HR team no longer need to chase for paperwork and references as the software does that automatically for you. Oh, and you have a handy audit trail.
  2. Ensure they have everything they need to get startedIts frustrating enough to turn up to your place of work and discover you don’t have a uniform / IT Equipment / Tools to do the job. When your working remotely there is literally nothing you can do. Ensure that your IT team know well in advance of day 1 what hardware, software and other tools your new colleague needs. The same goes for facilities and uniforms and make sure they have them delivered to their home before their first day. Then provide your new colleague with video tutorials and guides about how to set it all up as part of their onboarding process.
  3. Get them connectedAt Human we believe in… well Human connections. Onboarding someone remotely doesn’t mean you should forgo the vitally important ingredient of human connections within your onboarding process. Connecting your new colleague will foster teamwork and supports their wellbeing.
    Create space (virtually) for your new colleagues to connect with their teams, introduce buddies and mentors via short intro videos and online chat facilities, facilitate remote onboarding lunches to introduce them to the team and ensure there is a Welcome video from their line manager as well as a Day 1 call.
  4. Provide clarity This is all about helping your new colleague understand what is expected of them. Joining a new company is really challenging at the best of times, so imagine what your new starters are going to be feeling in the current climate. They will be desperate to make an impact and know how to succeed. Your job is to help them do that and ensure they make an impact and perform.
    Ensure they have a clear itinerary and plan of what is expected of them on day 1. Who are they going to be meeting virtually? What do you want them to learn that day? What policies do they need to have read?
    Coach your managers to check in with their new team member regularly, getting a temperature check on how they are feeling and giving clarity around questions and concerns. Within the first month this should move to setting performance expectations. It should be clear to the new colleague and manager what good looks like and how they can make an impact. Your managers may well feel intimidated by this so support them through this change with virtual nudges and reminders on when to do this.
  5. The critical need to knows Every business has them. Those things that you absolutely need to know to do your job. They tend to fall into two categories. Firstly, the legal, compliance stuff like Health and Safety Policies or GDPR Training. Get these shared and delivered virtually and ensure your new colleague can return to them whenever they want and that you have an audit trail to know when they have viewed/signed them.
    The second category is the things we tend to forget, whether it’s the jargon you use in the business, the process for claiming expenses or how to raise a holiday request. Don’t leave your new colleagues in the dark and wasting time and energy searching for them. Instead signpost them, guide them, share the right messages at the right time – reveal what they need to know when they need to know it.
  6. Essential learning There are things we all need to know to do our jobs successfully. Ensure that your new colleagues who are being onboarded remotely are given the right education to be successful. E-learning replaces classroom-based education as part of a remote onboarding process. Use short videos to introduce the culture of your organisation, introduce online testing for the compliance your team need to know and add a degree of gamification to the process to make it interesting. Your E-learning should also provide the opportunity for your team to constantly refresh their memory on what they have learnt and how they do things.
  7. Make it accessible Approximately one billion people globally have a disability. You wouldn’t dream of discriminating against people with a disability in your normal employment and onboarding processes so ensure that you don’t when you onboard new colleagues remotely. Ensure that your remote onboarding application and process is accessible to W3C standards and works on a wide variety of mobile devices and tablets. This is easily achieved by using off the shelf software like Human to run your remote onboarding process.

So, there you have it, the seven brilliant basics to remotely onboarding your new colleagues. Following these seven brilliant basics will enable you to deliver a great onboarding experience for each of your new colleagues when the entire office is working from home.