Remote Onboarding - Tips for Virtually Integrating New Employees into the Company

by Thomas Zembacher in — March 2020
Good onboarding was already important for incorporating new employees into the team before the corona crisis. Now the big question is how to conduct onboarding successfully in times of social distancing. Good onboarding has always been about giving new employees a sense of security and taking their individual needs seriously. Companies have to create a connection with open and honest communication.

Technology First

Remote working is difficult when you do not have the right equipment. Every new employee needs a laptop with a VPN connection. The easiest way to provide the equipment is in a welcome package delivered by a courier. It is important to coordinate closely with the IT department, which should make sure that all the important software like the email client and communication tools have been installed and work properly (test them beforehand!).


Interaction Is Worth It

Here are the main recommendations from Human Resources Manager“ by Quadriga Media Berlin for smooth virtual onboarding.

1. Buddy

The dialogue that began with the boss, HR, or buddy should be continued. A daily call to ask the new colleague how they are doing, not just about their tasks, is a must. The new employee should be assigned a buddy. Then they have someone they can ask any questions they have. It makes sense to set specific times and durations for the calls, which should be video calls if possible.

2. Onboarding App

You would think that the digital transformation arrived in HR departments a long time ago. But the numbers tell a different story: only 12% of companies count on software support. It’s now or never: new employees should be met virtually in the onboarding app before or when they begin so they can get to the know the company culture. Information, tasks, and appointments can be uploaded remotely before the first workday to ensure that the onboarding occurs seamlessly, regardless of whether remotely or at the office. The advantages of a digital solution are obvious: The individual tasks can be completed and checked step-by-step by different people. In addition to workflow support, relevant information, tasks, and news can be displayed at the optimal time.

A person who feels appreciated will always do more than is expected.

3. Remote Communication via Team Chat

The team’s offline dynamic is reflected automatically by the online meetings and chats, which gives the new person a feeling for their new team. Important: interpersonal relationships and humour, not just work, should play a large role. Tip: smileys and GIFs make chats more personal - but stay authentic and do not overdo it. An onboarding networking circle also helps new employees get to know each other. The connections created by new employees in these groups often last long after the onboarding phase, creating opportunities for interdepartmental communication.

4. A Different Kind of Welcome Day

Large companies usually have welcome days for new employees that have the same approximate start date. A joint welcome day gives companies the chance to introduce all their new team members to company guidelines, corporate culture, the product portfolio and general interdepartmental topics. Representatives from different areas can give short presentations about their departments and most important activities. New colleagues can be integrated into the event remotely with a livestream or a video conference.

5. Develop Know-How

E-learning offerings can help new employees learn new skills and develop existing ones. External webinars are an excellent resource. Video tutorials and scripts should be provided for internal workflows.

6. Feedback & Performance Reviews

Feedback is best delivered during video chats so that facial expressions can be seen. During performance reviews, tasks, goals, and past results are discussed. Constructive feedback is especially important during this phase; it helps motivate the onboardee. This does not mean it is a one-way street: Feedback from the new employee is invaluable because it provides a fresh look at entrenched workflows and gives you the opportunity to optimise processes.

Especially important in exceptional circumstances like these: trust your own employees and onboardees that to make the start as successful as possible.