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6 remote onboarding best practices for a great experience

Creating an amazing onboarding experience solely for in-person employees is easy. 

But in a world where people work from home and the office, creating a good onboarding experience is a lot harder. You can’t walk newcomers around the office, have them meet their colleagues face to face, show them their desks, and check in with them as easily.

However, it’s worth investing in a great onboarding experience. Research shows that companies with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by over 80% and productivity by more than 70%.

So don’t neglect your onboarding. Make it a priority to ensure that top talent feels welcome and part of your company while not wasting your recruitment costs and efforts.

Unsure how to do this? Here are six straightforward and practical ways to elevate your hybrid and remote onboarding experience for all of your employees.

1. Start the onboarding process early

Once all the paperwork is signed, don’t wait until a new employee’s start date to make them feel part of the team. Instead, start the onboarding process early on to make new hires feel more excited, engaged, and better prepared for their first day.

As soon as a new hire has accepted and signed an offer, send them a detailed welcome email with information about your company, mission, vision, and values. Share their team lead contact information and who to reach out to if they have any questions during their onboarding process.

Also, immediately start preparing a package that includes all their necessary office gear and ship it as soon as possible to avoid any customs delays. Alternatively, you could work with a vendor such as Workwize to outsource this process and guarantee items arrive on time.

Alternatively, if your workforce is partially or completely remote, organize a video tour of the facility. Show new hires the dynamics, details, and included office gear they will get before they start. This enables them to visualize their workspace when working from home.

And invite new hires to in-person or virtual team events before they start. It’s a fun way of getting to know their co-workers and start bonding with their colleagues.

2. Create a personalized onboarding experience

Personalize your onboarding process based on a newcomer’s role, seniority, department, and even preference.

So, in addition to training material based on the company’s mission and vision, you can provide custom training materials and resources depending on a person’s role and seniority. To do this, it’s best to create a training hub with one or multiple trainings per category for each new employee to complete.

For mandatory security training, ISO requirements require companies to share information and educate about security awareness. Implement a notification system that alerts your IT department when someone scores below 80%.

Doing so ensures you know when someone needs additional information and explanation and guarantees all new employees are on the same page and risk-aware.

In addition, consider sending custom welcome packages based on a person’s hobbies and location. Doing so helps new hires feel valued and connected to your company.

3. Create opportunities for social interaction

Before a new employee’s start day and during their first month, it’s important to prioritize connection and create opportunities for new team members to engage with their colleagues.

From one-on-one meetings with everyone on the team to virtual happy hours or monthly team-building activities such as virtual cooking classes or digital book clubs, prioritize connection and relationship building in your onboarding process.

For instance, gather and introduce all new employees on their first day so they can quickly create a network of people in their situation. Since everyone is unfamiliar, it can feel easier to bond and connect.

Why do this? Because connection can directly influence important organizational outcomes. Aspects such as new employee job performance, job satisfaction, organizational commitment, employee referrals, intentions to remain, and turnover are all impacted by how connected an employee feels to his team and the company.

However, don’t rush to cram numerous team-building activities into the first week, as that can also be overwhelming. Whether it’s over Zoom or in person, new information and new people are a lot to take in. So, rather than filling a new employee’s first week, schedule weekly or monthly events so that new hires always have something to look forward to.

4. Assign a dedicated onboarding buddy

Starting a new job can be overwhelming. And in a hybrid or remote setting, you can’t always pop by someone’s desk to ask a question. An assigned buddy who checks in with newcomers daily can make the transition easier. This person can answer questions, share tips and tricks, guide you toward the right people for answers, and just generally provide guidance.

This person can either be a team member or a colleague in the same region or timezone. Being able to connect with someone available during working hours adds a layer of comfort and support.

Additionally, connect your new employees with one of your in-house IT specialists. This person can help them set up all the necessary programs, better understand company tools, obtain credentials, or simply serve as a resource to ask questions or address any IT-related problems they may experience. Thus setting up your new employees for long-term success.

5. Add interactive elements to your onboarding process

Traditional onboarding material can be dry and uninspiring. Few of us look forward to reading cybersecurity information or tax documents, even though this information is crucial. To keep new employees engaged, add interactive elements to your virtual onboarding process.

Use video, interactive tutorials, quizzes, and gamification elements to make the onboarding process more fun. Create a visual learning path that new hires need to complete. Doing so makes people feel more engaged and motivated to get through the more tedious tasks.

By implementing an alert system for HR, Team Leads, or IT when a person scores below 80% on required training, you’ll always be aware when someone needs additional explanation or education.

6. Celebrate milestones and achievements

Work hard but also play hard. Celebrate the milestones of each new employee. From their first week to their first month to passing their probation period. Recognize their achievements to make them feel seen and part of the team.

To do this, send them a personalized gift, shout out to them in a team meeting, or deliver a bouquet or house plants for remote employees. Doing so further solidifies someone’s feeling of connectedness and keeps them motivated to succeed.

Be sure to communicate milestone celebrations. For example, if you celebrate birthdays or a person’s first 30, 60, and 90 days at a company, share this information and add it to their calendars to give newcomers something to look forward to.

Prioritize your remote onboarding experience

After 30 days, ask for feedback on your onboarding process to keep optimizing it and ensuring new hires truly feel welcome.

A great onboarding process ensures that new hires feel welcome, quickly connect to your remote teams, and feel part of the team, no matter their location.
Therefore, prioritize the onboarding experience to ensure people are excited to be working for your company, ready to get started, and have all the tools and help they need to thrive.

Let's Recap!

In summary, creating a successful remote onboarding process involves scheduling team-building activities periodically, regular check-ins, assigning a dedicated onboarding buddy for daily support, incorporating interactive elements for engagement, and celebrating milestones and achievements. When you prioritize the onboarding experience, new hires will feel welcomed, connected to the company culture, and ready to thrive. Asking for feedback after 30 days allows for continuous optimization of the process. Ultimately, a well-designed remote onboarding process sets new employees up for success and ensures they are excited to be a part of the team, regardless of their location.

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