How to achieve successful remote onboarding during the Covid-19 lockdown - and beyond 

06 May 2020

By Oliver Small

How to achieve successful remote onboarding during the Covid-19 lockdown - and beyond 

While Covid-19 is tragically wreaking havoc on the health and safety of millions of people around the world, the economy is feeling the pressure, certainly in terms of job growth, with companies across the world severely restricting hiring, budgets, and growth plans. Yet not every company can afford, or needs, to completely halt their hiring plans, as certain roles are vital to sustaining and growing the business during these uncertain times. Indeed, for some industries - such as IT, retail, distribution and logistics - hiring is still essential, and interviews are being carried out remotely, very effectively via video call.

However, welcoming a new starter requires more consideration, because it’s the employee's first formal impression as part of the company, and is typically conducted over a series of friendly, face-to-face meetings. This often includes one-to-one meetings with HR, direct managers, and members of the leadership team, as well as group meetings involving various specialist teams.

If you’re continuing with hiring plans during these times, you’ll be heavily reliant on technology for the onboarding process. So, here are some key tips for developing and implementing a successful virtual onboarding process, which will help you explore the unique needs of new workers based outside your physical office space, both during the restrictions of Covid-19 and beyond:

  • Discuss with the new starter their individual requirements and their ability to meet demands of the role remotely.

  • Determine their wifi needs. Do they have sufficient connection reliability and speed to perform their role? Will they require VPN access to ensure a secure connection to certain applications or business data?

  • Do they have a dedicated workspace at home? Do they need support setting up an appropriate workspace? Are there any equipment requirements – an additional monitor, for example, or a suitable desk, filing system or a webcam?

  • What role-specific tools, platforms, and systems do they need access to? Try to ensure necessary accounts, permissions and applications are arranged well in advance, to streamline the onboarding process.

  • Set up essential systems, accounts and communications platforms with IT support, if not already done – for example getting email and other accounts up and running, providing complete access to cloud storage and intranet platforms, or setting up a messaging / Zoom accounts. Give an overview of security best practices for IT and systems.

  • Book and add induction sessions to online diaries for those charged with delivering such sessions to your new starter.

  • Introduce the new starter to the team: set up a video call team meeting to introduce everyone. Ask each individual to give an overview of what they do, and how they’ll be working with the new starter.

When employees are physically distanced from their team members, direct managers, colleagues, and leadership, it can be easy for them to disengage with others. This is especially true for newly hired employees who haven’t had the chance to experience the company’s culture and social life. At a time when employee engagement and retention could dip significantly, employers should seize the opportunity to lean into the socially collaborative nature of digital tools - indeed, this is where digital tools and social networks carry tremendous power in their abilities to bring communities of globally dispersed and remote employees together.

What’s equally important is that levels of communication and collaboration do not wane. So keep up the momentum with regular virtual meetings and calls to ensure employees maintain their motivation.

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