By: Lilia Choi on July 1st, 2020
How to Review Your New Hire Onboarding Process for a Remote Workforce
Here at Helios HR, we recently welcomed new team members just as we switched to working remotely full time. We understood starting a new job during a pandemic was going to be challenging for our new hires, but with a little planning and teamwork, we could still provide them with a warm welcome and ensure they had everything they needed to be successful. The first step was to review our current onboarding procedure and identify what needed to be virtualized.
When adjusting your onboarding procedure to be done in a remote capacity, there are few items you may want to take into consideration:
Check in with your new employees even after they have accepted their job offer to touch base and see how they are doing with the transition and if they need anything before their first day. Let them know if you are sending them hardware such as a laptop and when they should expect it. Confirm their start date and time of when they should be online or available by phone to start their onboarding, talk about what they can expect on their first day as well. And of course, make sure to keep them up to date regarding any operating changes that would affect their position.
Hardware and Technology
Order necessary equipment that your new employee will need, such as laptop, computer monitor, mouse, keyboard, cellphone, or printer. Work with IT to set up all necessary programs, such as email, video conference service or data management system on the computer before sending it out. Find out if your new hire has reliable internet and it not, consider including a mobile hotspot. Ideally, your new hire will receive all of their equipment prior to or on their first day.
If you are still using paper forms, take the opportunity to go paperless. Certain forms such as tax forms, Confidentiality Agreements, and even the Employment Eligibility (I-9) Form can be completed electronically. You can use an electronic signature service such as DocuSign or Adobe to sign and send electronic forms securely.
In fact, USCIS has released new guidance for completing an I-9 form remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. Make sure to make add “COVID-19” note under “Additional Information” on Section 2. Once you can safely inspect the documents physically update the note to saying, “Documents physically examined on (DATE)”.
Check out my other article on I-9 guidance for when you are operating in a remote capacity.
If you have a first day schedule or orientation presentation, continue that practice. You can send your new employee a schedule, so they know what to expect on their first day or first couple of weeks. Just because you can’t welcome the new employee in person, doesn’t mean you can’t meet “face-to-face” via video chat. The hiring manager can arrange a time to virtually meet with the new employee and also introduce them to their new coworkers and other department leaders to get more acquainted with the business.
Follow up with your new employee as they go through the onboarding process. It will help you get feedback on your new onboarding process and help the new employee feel engaged. Encourage your team to reach out to their new colleague(s) and introduce themselves, answer questions about company culture or to be a resource while they get up and running. If you haven’t already, implement a companywide video and chat so that employees can stay connected while working from home. Consider how challenging it can be to get to know your new colleagues to team in this virtual environment, so there more opportunities you can establish for connectivity and collaboration, the better.
Make them Feel Welcome!
You may also consider sending company-branded swag like pens, notebooks, a mug, or even a voucher for a free coffee or meal (delivery of course). As an HR leader, make yourself available to answer any questions they may have about the company and how your processes work. Give them a “virtual tour” of the office if you have pictures of your worksite or your company data base. Have your team reach out via LinkedIn or chat to welcome them to the team or host a virtual lunch together. Be mindful that your new employee may feel anxious starting a new job during such an uncertain time, so communication is key. Be prepared to answer tough questions regarding salary reductions, the future of the company or plans to return to the office.
As we all adjust to our “new normal” of working remotely, we can still make our core business processes like onboarding run smoothly. Adjust your current processes so that you are intentional and overcommunicating during this time. Don’t be afraid to get creative and find new ways stay engaged with your team members. Guiding a new employee through a seamless virtual onboarding is also a great way to make a first impression!