Now more than ever, we are relying on technology to continue working in today’s unprecedented climate. For some companies, this was likely an easier transition if they were already set up for remote work access. How does today’s virtual workforce affect onboarding new employees who will start their new job from home instead of in the office?

While hiring and onboarding a remote employee might seem daunting, consider this checklist to get started:

Before the first day

  • Does your company require a background check and/or drug screen? If so, facilitate the background check online, and if the employee needs to go somewhere for the drug screen, consider providing additional safety measures or consider sending an at-home drug screen.
  • Consider facilitating the onboarding paperwork virtually with e-signatures.
  • Send a welcome gift in the mail (i.e., card, company swag, business cards, fruit basket, cookies, thought leadership book).

Workspace requirements

  • Determine what equipment is needed (i.e., phone, laptop, printer) and consider shipping it to the new hire.
  • Identify what systems the employee will need access to (i.e., email, systems, Zoom, Skype) and work with HR and IT to set them up virtually.
  • Determine if the employee will have a secure internet source and office space to perform their job responsibilities.
  • What office supplies will this person need? Some companies are giving allowances for office supplies in lieu of using company resources.
My virtual onboarding process has been very smooth. Replacing normal, in-person meetings with video meetings has been helpful, and it seems like it is becoming the norm for everybody. We are able to connect on a personal level in a world that sees us creating more distance.
Danny Wojtowicz, new hire in Chicago for Baker Tilly Search & Staffing

Expectations

  • Cleary define expectations from day one – this is no different than if you were working in the office.
  • Communicate with your new employee what the expectations are for each week for the first month.
  • Stay connected on a daily or every-other-day basis. Consider setting a time toward the end of the day or beginning of each day to check in with the new employee to discuss progress and make adjustments as necessary.
  • Assign a training schedule and discuss the tools necessary to facilitate the training. Will training take place over the phone, Zoom or another process? Is there a screen-sharing option that might be useful?
  • Understand that each employee might need to be managed differently while working from home, so leadership needs to react and plan accordingly.
  • Set ground rules on Zoom calls – a strong facilitator is needed to keep calls on track and effective. Use the chat tool to help drive the discussion, reframe scenarios, etc.

Facilitate introductions with the entire team

  • Set up an all-team connection via Zoom or other meeting platform to introduce each team member to the new employee. This can be over a virtual lunch or a virtual team happy hour. Consider doing this monthly with your team to keep morale and engagement up among the entire team.
  • Coordinate 1:1 connections with key players on the team that will be crucial to the new employee’s success. (i.e., IT, operations, HR)
  • Include the new employee on any relevant team and/or company updates and meetings.
  • Share relevant thought leadership articles with the new employee.
I onboarded at the beginning of April, and was surprised at how well everything went. There were 40 people in my training class, and the whole process was very well organized. Both the HR and IT teams leveraged technology to ensure the process was as seamless as possible.
Harrison Cohen, new hire in Milwaukee for Baker Tilly Search & Staffing

Follow-up

  • Identify who will check in with this person to make sure that they have what they need. Should it be multiple people from different areas?
  • Determine how feedback will be delivered. Feedback might need to be more deliberate because proximity won’t be the same as “in the office” where feedback is typically more “real-time.”

While this list is not all-inclusive, it is a great starting point for companies that are re-evaluating their hiring and onboarding processes in today’s climate. Onboarding any new employee is truly a team effort, but this is even more important now with remote employees.

If your organization is experiencing discomfort due to the pandemic, consider reaching out to one of our industry leaders today for guidance on issues related to staffing, hiring, onboarding and more.

I think the greatest benefit to come out of the work challenges caused by COVID-19 is increased trust.  For so long, a barrier to work flexibility and employee development has been limited by the natural human need to control a situation.  In this situation, we have no control and that requires all of us to rely on our fellow team members more than ever to complete their responsibilities and support one another.  As a leader, I know that I will be more apt to provide my employees work from home capabilities because I have developed more trust in their skills and trust in my own abilities to hold them accountable.
Minneapolis candidate placed in a direct hire role
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