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Remote onboarding is something entirely new to many companies in Cayman, so for those that are now having to face this latest hurdle in the pandemic: what are the best practices to manage this process, and how can you keep your new staff engaged and feeling welcomed?

The first few days (and weeks) at a new job are critical for new hires, not only to settle into their new role, but to also get a feel for the company culture, and to start building solid relationships with their colleagues and teammates.

Normally, this is all happening in an office environment where people can engage and interact directly, with the global pandemic throwing a spanner in the works, all of that has changed. For companies that are still actively hiring for roles (there are more than you would think!), the newest hurdle is navigating not only the remote interview process but how to successfully onboard new staff in a way that engages them and makes them feel welcomed into the organisation.

How do you extend a warm welcome to new hires when you can’t do the typical first-day activities like office orientation, team introductions, and a group lunch?

Transparent Communication is Critical for Remote Onboarding

Set expectations clearly in the first week

Clearly outline what the first week will look like and how essential information will be shared (e.g., using a mix of pre-recorded videos and webinars, employee handbooks, and one-on-one video training sessions). This is crucial to set the tone for the rest of their employment as you will want them to understand the targets they are expected to reach and also for them to feel supported. There is nothing worse than going into a new job and having no idea what you need to be doing or who you need to turn to if you have a question.

Assign a mentor or “virtual buddy”

One of our top recommendations would be to assign a mentor! Not just any member of your team though; it should be someone who is a ‘culture carrier’ for your organization and represents the values you want to highlight. Regularly scheduled conversations would give your new staff opportunities to ask questions they might not otherwise ask, and the mentor a chance to offer guidance or coaching when needed.

When a new employee can make just a few high-quality connections, it sets the tone and provides them with the confidence to create new relationships for themselves.

Use technology to create simple and open communication channels

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: communication should be more than just email! To keep your staff connected, you need to have a robust communication tool (the team here at Nova use Microsoft Teams) so that you can easily chat with a teammate or hop on a video call if need be. This will help your remote workers fit in with company culture and get to know their coworkers while keeping all communication visible, organized, and easily accessible.

If you use Slack as a communication platform, there’s an add-in called donut, which assigns your staff short calls at random with another member of staff. This is an excellent way for new members (and your existing staff) to get to know the larger organization, rather than just your immediate team.

Use project management and planning tools

When starting a new job, it can be challenging to know what you need to do, and that is only compounded when everything is virtual. Do yourself a favor and get your teams using project management or productivity tools to ease communication on deliverables.

These tools, like Asana, Productive, or Trello, will allow everyone on your team to see the projects they need to complete and access the information they need to get work done. These project management tools are so much more than a glorified to-do list; they also mean that managers can see the status of workers’ progress on different projects and give new employees a platform to show their work ethic and success.

Remote Onboarding isn’t Complete Without Training

Have a repository of relevant information for staff to refer back to

This knowledge center can include anything that would be beneficial for a new hire: employee handbook, explanation of the processes in place in the company, or access to the go-to-documents that staff members use daily, just to name a few. If there is information that is going to be shared time and time again with all your new hires, considering pre-recording the information with a video and then providing that to your new staff.

Of these, having process documentation is going to be the most beneficial as you likely won’t be able to walk them through every process. By having these documented processes and making them accessible, you will enable them to complete their core activities right off the bat with minimal training.

When set up well, this repository will have many of the answers to frequently asked questions. It can be an incredible resource for training, allowing new hires to refer back when they have a problem and then only needing to reach out with questions when necessary.

Learn from Each Remote Onboarding Experience

All in all, remote onboarding will take time and patience, and you will learn with each new employee what works best for your organization. If you strive for transparent communication, authenticity, and understanding over process, you can never lose.

Onboarding can often be a huge blur and most employees don’t remember all this new information, but they will remember how you made them feel. If you do it right, that feeling will stick throughout their time at the company and they will pass that same feeling on to other new starts in the future. That is the sign of influential, positive company culture and is what every company strives for.

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