If your company has hired anyone over the last year, chances are you've had to do at least some of that new hire's onboarding and training remotely. If you haven't hired yet but have decided to move your operations fully remote, it's only a matter of time before you have to design a great new hire experience to be delivered over Zoom.
Tips for remote new hire onboarding:
Take a step back. When designing a remote experience, it can be tempting to dive into your existing checklist for onboarding in person and stick a Zoom link on everything. Done! Easy! Right? You'll be better off if you take a step back and think about the purpose of your new hire's first day, first week or first quarter. How do you want them to feel after the first day? If burned out and bleary-eyed from 8 hours of Zoom is what you're going for, then running your same playbook remotely might be fine. Chances are, though, you want them to be excited about joining your company—not burned out from staring at a screen all day.
Plan in advance for their needs. In preparation for the great first day, the hiring manager should find out what the new hire will need. In addition to any equipment you'd provide anyway like a laptop, phone, etc., find out if they need a comfortable desk chair, or a better lighting situation to have a productive home work space. Put a little thought into the experience of receiving the equipment. Maybe you box it all up with some company swag or treats and ship it like a present, or maybe you arrange for a masked meet-up to personally deliver it.
Arrange a warm welcome. If you can coordinate the first day so it aligns with a team meeting, this is a great way to introduce the new hire and give them some time to observe the team in action. If you'd typically take a new hire out to lunch, arrange a food delivery or gift card. If new hires usually meet with the founder, that's a Zoom call worth arranging. Make sure you keep some of the special things that make new hires feel excited!
Share the company strategy, history and goals. If you use a system like Rhythm, walking through the company's strategy and how it cascades to the team's goals is a simple and powerful way to get new hires up to speed quickly. You can also use Rhythm to collaborate and keep progress visible on goals for the new hire.
Move as much as you can into self-paced learning. Share your employee handbook and written or video training materials so the new hire can consume them at their own pace. Set specific goals of how far and by when they should complete their independent learning, and schedule short check-ins every day or every week to ensure they are retaining key information and to answer any clarifying questions.
Arrange for interviews and job shadowing. A benefit of being remote is that it's easier for your team members who are interacting with customers or prospects over Zoom to record conversations for training purposes (with permission, of course). If that's not possible, setting up "office hours" on Zoom or a dedicated Slack channel for co-working where at least one more experienced team member is online and can answer questions or just share their screen and walk through something the new hire is learning.
Having the purpose in mind for your remote employee onboarding is key, and setting some clear goals for what they should be learning/doing and by when will help you stay on track for a great new hire experience, even if it's not the same as what you've done in the past. Enlist help from other team members, and ensure you are frequently checking in and making adjustments based on the person's progress. If your company is planning to return in-person at some point, keep this remote onboarding process flexible, and see what you can learn from it that might save you time or provide an even better experience for new hires joining in-person in the future. Creating the best environment for a new hire is one key way to win the talent war.
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