Remote Onboarding: Best Practices for Digital Onboarding
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Remote onboarding - how to make virtual onboarding a success

The world of work is in a period of change, not least because of the Corona situation. The change to a hybrid working model is already taking place in many companies and will be the new normality in the future. Part of this new normality will also be the remote onboarding of new employees in the home office instead of the office. How remote onboarding differs from traditional onboarding, what challenges arise and how onboarding can also be a virtual success is explained in this guidebook article.

Definition: What does remote onboarding mean?

Remote onboarding means that the induction of new employees is not carried out on site but, at least in part, physically separated from the office. Instead, the employees are in the home office or in remote work in general.

Remote onboarding is necessary in various situations:

  • In the days of Corona, onboarding in many companies was forced to take place in the home office, as visiting the office was not possible. This presented many companies with major challenges, as the processes that were often in place anyway were limited and not designed for virtual onboarding.
  • In companies that rely on the hybrid work model or entirely on the concept of remote work, onboarding must also be adapted to the location-independent work of their new colleagues.
With the spatial separation, of course, come new challenges compared to classic onboarding, where employees are for the most part physically present to have contact with the new environment and new colleagues.

Using digital opportunities for virtual onboarding

Digitalisation has also found its way into HR and many companies, not least driven by the Corona crisis, are increasingly using digital onboarding solutions to optimise their HR processes. Numerous digital software and app solutions are now also available for the onboarding phase. With these, the workload can be significantly reduced and made more interactive. But especially for virtual remote onboarding in the home office, digital solutions are elementary in order to design a meaningful onboarding process.

The possible uses of digital tools are as diverse as the onboarding tasks themselves. Possible areas include, for example:

  • Onboarding software that can be used to digitally map the entire onboarding process
  • Company wiki to make general information about the company and processes centrally accessible
  • E-learning software to teach contents on occupational safety, hygiene regulations, etc.
  • Interactive product demonstrations showing the use of internally used applications

Tips for virtual remote onboarding

Due to the physical distance, virtual onboarding differs in some respects from classic onboarding. This fact should also be taken into account when developing the onboarding concept and the different requirements should be taken into account.

We give you some tips to make remote onboarding a success.

Communication is King

Onboarding is an important part of the employer experience. Communication is the key to making new employees feel welcome and integrated in the new company right from day one. Communication should be given even greater importance in remote onboarding, according to the principle "more is better than less".
However, the exchange with new colleagues should not start on the first day. For example, frequently asked questions can be answered in an email a few days before the start of work. This is also a good opportunity to let the new starters know that you are looking forward to their start.
Nothing creates more trust and a positive feeling than personal contact. When new employees are welcomed in short one-on-one meetings, they feel respected and valued. Video conferences with the new team also make them feel that they have arrived professionally. To get to know the new team members better in person, virtual coffee breaks with individual colleagues are a relaxed addition.

Well equipped - even outside the office

To ensure that the new colleagues are fully operational from day one, they should be equipped with everything they need for working in a home office or remotely from day one. On the one hand, this includes high-quality office furniture, above all ergonomic desks and office chairs. What else is needed to work productively (e.g. table lamp, mobile pedestal or similar) should be decided by each employee.

Besides an ergonomic workplace, the most important thing is the technical equipment. This usually includes a laptop, an additional monitor and a keyboard and mouse as basic equipment. What else is needed depends on the area of responsibility and must be clarified individually. The technical equipment includes all the necessary software programmes, such as the classic office programmes, video conferencing software and collaboration tools. In the best case, these are already pre-installed so that the "newcomers" can get started immediately.

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Personal Onboarding Buddy

In the first few days, many impressions have to be processed and numerous questions arise. An onboarding mentor is worth his or her weight in gold here. As a direct contact and reference person, he or she accompanies the newcomer in the first few days, introduces other colleagues, shows processes in the company, answers questions and thus makes the start in the new social environment much easier.
Remote Onboarding - Onboarding Mentor

Teaching how to deal with remote work

Not everyone is confident in dealing with remote work. For some, video conferencing and the digital exchange of information are still unfamiliar territory. But in a hybrid working world, meetings and digital collaboration can only be effective if every employee is familiar with the most important tools.

For this reason, it should be ensured that all new starters receive a brief introduction to the regularly used collaboration tools and rules of conduct in the first few days. Setting up meeting rooms, turning cameras and audio on and off, sending files or mentioning colleagues in group chats are essential functions that all staff need to master.

Accompanies new colleagues throughout the onboarding process

Of course, the topic of communication should not be limited to the initial period. Even if the first days have been successfully completed with many impressions, there should be a regular exchange with the new colleagues at every stage of onboarding. In the context of remote onboarding, it is advisable to hold discussions at shorter intervals.

Supervisors in particular should take the time to discuss open questions or problems in short pulse checks. This shows the new employees that they are noticed and are an important part of the team.