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Before 2020, a lot of us would have never considered remote onboarding as an option. It was be local to the office, or… you aren’t suitable for the job.

Doing it out of choice just doesn’t appeal to us. Who would be comfortable with no face-to-face conversation, water cooler chat, handshakes, office tours and introductions? Staring at each other through a screen and reading online training docs; it’s just not the same.

How can you truly support that new starter in their new role if you aren’t in the same room?

As an employee, how do you build rapport with your new colleagues if you’ve never actually MET them?

It was just never an option for us. We’re big on culture at StaffCo, and you can’t beat that infectious energy when we’re all together.

We feel so proud to have recently been in a position to hire some new team members. Well, just our luck – as we’re ready to hire, COVID strikes. We had no choice but to get to grips with remote onboarding.

Some of us (Danny, we’re looking at you!) dreaded having to go through remote onboarding processes. Would it be effective? Would the new team feel supported? How would the communication be? Loads of potential roadblocks presented themselves.

Luckily, Francesca was gladly on hand to take on the challenge. Here’s what she did, and her top pieces of advice.

  1. Maintain communication in the run up to their first day

If you’re worried about remote onboarding as an employer, imagine how your new starters feel! Not only have they got to prepare for a new job which is always daunting, they’ve also got to make first impressions remotely. Tricky when you’re not used to it, and it doesn’t come naturally to any of us.

Ease their nerves by staying in contact from the moment the job offer is accepted, to the moment their first day comes around. It’ll mean you’re already building rapport and they’ll feel comfortable from the get-go. 

  1. Give them a warm welcome

Just because they’re not in the office, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a proper welcome. It’s really important that your newbies are introduced to all their new colleagues properly – perhaps you could set up video calls with a couple of people at a time? Instead of saying in the company-wide meeting, “Guys this is Helen”, put some time in everyone’s diaries to have one on one chats, or chats in small groups.  It’ll be much less intimidating and give your new starters the chance to build proper relationships.

  1. Send them things in the post

We all love a new starter pack, don’t we? Sure, they can be made digital. But where’s the fun in that! Send your newbies the usual stuff like a tote, a notebook, a pen – anything else like that – through the post. They’ll get that ‘proper’ new job feel! You could even go all out and send them some sweets or flowers to make them feel welcome.

  1. Have a clear plan in place

Once you’ve decided how to welcome your new team member, it’s critical to have a proper onboarding plan in place – just as you would normally. Create milestones and schedule set times each week to catch up on progress.

  1. Ask for feedback

As we’re writing this, we’re in a pandemic – NO ONE has the right answers! We’re all learning as we go. It’s important to facilitate two-way feedback between you and your new starters during their onboarding phase. Ask questions and give them a platform to provide feedback.

  1. Set expectations

Working remotely means communication can sometimes be a bit disjointed. Set clear expectations as to what hours are expected, when people take lunch breaks and when to clock off. Let them know how best to communicate – such as using Slack, or video calls. Make it clear how you operate so that they fit in smoothly.

  1. Don’t forget to build relationships

Getting to know each other usually comes from casual office chat and banter amongst teams. Make sure you’re proactively learning about them – their home life, their interests, what they’re watching on the telly. Don’t make it all about work!

Hopefully these tips have helped.

Our newbies have settled in excellently, and we’re so proud of the StaffCo team for making that happen!

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