How to onboard new starters remotely

by Alison King is MD at Bespoke HR-

When hiring staff, onboarding (the process of integrating a new employee into a role) is just as essential as making a good recruitment choice in the first place. Often when conducting exit interviews, we find that a bad initial onboarding experience set the tone for the entire experience and led to poor motivation, lack of commitment and the eventual decision to leave. In a small business, it’s still just as important to make the right first impression with a new employee, but how can you achieve this if your new hire is working remotely?

1. Prepare an induction planner

Include who the employee needs to ‘meet’ (albeit virtually), the systems they need in order to do their job and any relevant training. It’s a good idea to share this schedule ahead of time to allow your new starter so that they know what the first week will look like and what to expect. This will introduce structure from the beginning and set expectations from the outset.

2. Get equipment in place before they start

It may sound obvious, but it’s essential that the correct IT equipment is in place for them to do their job. There is nothing worse than starting a new job to find the IT hasn’t been set up in good time (how many of us have arrived at a new job to find there’s no email address set up, no PC or laptop ready, all of which gives a terrible first impression). Make sure that any equipment has been delivered ahead of their start date (via courier) so they are ready to go from day one. Incorporate the setting up of any systems into the induction plan so that they are guided through this on the first day.

3. Conduct a home working risk assessment

As an employer, you are responsible for your employees’ health and safety during their working hours and in their place of work – even if they are working from home. This means that you will need to conduct a risk assessment which takes into account their workstation (looking at set up, posture and health) plus safety, online security and working environment.

4. Introduce them to the team

It’s a nice idea to introduce your new starter to the rest of the team before they begin. Equally, it’s also essential that your new recruit knows about the rest of the team, who they are and what they do so they can see where they fit in. Under normal circumstances you may have taken your new starter out for lunch on their first day, but there’s no reason why you can’t do a ‘virtual lunch’ with the rest of the business or prepare a video in advance summarising who is who.

5. Catch up regularly

Schedule regular catch ups to keep them motivated and accountable. Daily or weekly video calls in the first few weeks will maintain the connection, and allow them to air any concerns or issues they have. The most important thing is that they don’t feel abandoned or left to their own devices at any stage. This is essential for workers who are not used to operating remotely and will miss being in an office surrounded by a team of people.

6. Gather feedback & keep talking

This is important of all staff, not just new starters, during these strange times. Ask for feedback on the role, the systems and the working structure so that you can make tweaks if it’s not working as it should. You can iron out any issues along the way and adapt and refine as you go.

Alison King is MD at Bespoke HR,

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