This year, COVID-19 has flipped the working world on its’ head and due to COVID’s effects on global business growth, more and more companies are now engaging in remote interviewing and onboarding processes as opposed to in-office methods. Video job interviews, remote inductions and the extended onboarding process for an employee are now an increasingly common part of bringing a new-starter on board.

Here at Miller Leith, we know how important it is for our clients (and ourselves) to maintain company culture and on-board effectively when building out teams, whether virtually or face to face. When you create a strong onboarding process, it sets the tone for the employee’s entire experience with your company.

We’ve put together our top remote hiring and onboarding tips, as a reference for our networks going through, or planning to go through this process.

1. When Interviewing & Offering Remotely

Setting yourself up for a successful virtual onboarding process should start as early an interview stage, as more and more, it’s something that candidates will be sure to enquire about. Make sure to check the following:

  • During the later stages of the interview, explain to the potential employee what the current remote onboarding process will look like, and how it’s been used so far
  • At the offer stage, make sure you have the option for documents to be completed & signed digitally. Enabling employees to sign important offer letters or contracts online, is much easier these days and will speed up the initial onboarding process
  • Once the offer has been accepted – make sure to send a warm welcome. A warm welcome will reinforce a new employee’s decision to accept your offer and set the tone of voice for employee engagement. Let them know how excited you are to have them join the company and what next steps will be
  • Make sure there is plenty of contact in the lead-up to your employee’s start date; whether that be regular calls; video sessions or even a socially distanced coffee and intro.
2. Have A Solid Onboarding Plan

The key to effectively onboarding remote employees is to create a detailed onboarding plan. This plan should cover all aspects of the onboarding process, and importantly include key milestones and check-in dates to measure and understand how your employee is progressing through the plan. Make sure to check:

  • That the wider team are well prepared for your new hire, their background and what they’ll be doing on a day to day, within the business. Encourage the team to reach out individually as to welcome your new employee
  • That prior to starting that your employee has all of the correct hardware and everything is secure, setup and is delivered on time, so there’s plenty of time to assemble before starting a new role. Consider setting a budget for each remote worker to set up their home office. It may also prove useful to provide a list of office essentials to simplify the experience for your new employee
  • On your new employee’s first day; try matching new remote workers with a colleague as to take extra care in welcoming your new employee. Virtual coffees, one to one introductions welcome drinks or activity can also go a long way
  • Send around or welcome email introducing your new hire; or even better have a branded welcome pack delivered!
  • Use an employee Checklist – giving new hires a way to feel like they’re learning and making progress on the job, is crucial. In advance, an onboarding check-list can be a useful way of warming them up to the role and getting them immersed immediately
3. Maintaining Company Culture & Employee Engagement

An efficient remote onboarding process will help to promote employee engagement and strengthen company culture, both for new starters and existing employees (who are also working remotely). Make sure to consider the following to support team engagement:

  • Coach team leaders to manage remote teams – offering additional communication platform, and team management training to managers is a great idea, especially as remote working culture is based on having good communications. Knowing how to use platforms such as Microsoft Teams, GSuite and Office 365 is crucial!
  • Create regular breakout sessions or “hangouts”, virtual meet-ups and cross-functional one to ones. Even better – encourage weekly team activities or an after-work drink.
  • Create a remote-friendly culture; ensure your workplace is inclusive and constant communication takes place
  • Regular check-ins. This is so important as it allows you to assess the effectiveness of your onboarding process and well as making sure all employees are progressing as expected.
4. The Longer Term

Your new remote employee’s second, third and fourth weeks are just as important as their first.  There’s no doubt it will take longer for remote hires to get up to speed on the team and feel most comfortable. So even after the initial onboarding, remember the following:

  • If possible, and ensuring that you’re following COVID safe regulations, try to organise an off-site meeting or group gathering as to integrate the team further
  • Gather employee feedback; ask your new employee what could have gone better or been made easier, or if there’s anything you can do to better support them. Also ask what worked well, and what you should keep going
  • Extending Responsibilities – give your employee extra, small projects that is low-pressure but allows them to showcase their expertise and gain confidence within the workplace
  • Refine the Onboarding Process. It may take time to master a seamless onboarding process and even then, there will always be room for improvement

In any business, it’s always important to focus on human interaction and the relationship-building aspect of work, on top of the day to day accountabilities – and to be there for your new and existing remote team, will play a huge part in retaining your staff long-term!


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