In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, remote work has officially become the new normal. More and more people are working from home, making virtual training and onboarding a growing priority for human resource professionals.
Prior to COVID, HR mainly utilized in-person methods to guide new employees through orientation, company goal sets and team expectations. However, Forbes reported that up to 74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard after the pandemic. Employees hope to keep the flexibility of remote and hybrid work, so it’s important that employers learn how to meet the digital expectations of the future work landscape.
In fact, as most organizations transitioned to remote work this past year, employees also reported considering or planning a move farther away from their current jobs, according to a separate Forbes article. Employees who were laid off were more likely to report planning a move, as well, which would influence how they applied to future job opportunities.
Returning to fully onsite work will prove difficult for most new employees, so HR must build creative and efficient ways to replicate the training and onboarding process for the remote work landscape. Here are some best practices your company can follow to improve your new employee’s virtual experience:
Provide timely technology and support
To ensure that new hires start off with their best foot forward, organizations must consider what technological requirements need to be addressed for each position. If the employee needs a corporate laptop or cellphone to do their job, reach out and schedule shipping so that they arrive before the employee’s start date.
Once your employee has the proper technology to start their role, HR should coordinate with IT to verify that setup and configuring the new tech is digitally streamlined. Check in with your IT department beforehand to guarantee they don’t become overwhelmed as remote work continues. Ask how the company can automate additional processes to ease the extra workload. Some examples of computer setup automation are interactive platforms that guide new users through setup or step-by-step instructions (written or video) that can be generally distributed online.
Clear communication between HR, new hires and IT is essential to digital onboarding. Don’t be afraid to ask new hires what tools they require to be successful in their new positions and how previously in-person IT tasks can be digitally streamlined. New employees will still need personalized assistance, but automating certain steps in the process is a necessary first step for remote onboarding.
Replicate the remote training process virtually
A great way to build your new HR guidelines for remote work is to use the foundation of previously tried and true methods. If you have set practices for training new hires onsite, go through them and determine how your company can transition each of these steps to online.
Schedule the first day of virtual orientation as similarly to pre-pandemic guidelines as possible, advised the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). This means creating a full-day, interactive schedule for new hires that include team and colleague introductions via video conferencing. By now, employees have become all-too-familiar with the importance of video meetings, so just be sure to include what platform expectations (Zoom, Google Meet, Skype, etc.) are during onboarding.
Once the first day is scheduled, consider how best to guide new hires through their first week, as well. For example, are there any larger company meetings that could demonstrate how your employer operates overall? New questions may arise as employees find their footing in the new digital landscape, so advise managers to schedule daily and/or weekly check-ins in advance. This way remote workers can be certain that they have opportunities to touch base with you.
As your digital onboarding and training schedule is determined, don’t forget to include breaks for your new hires. Employees should feel guided throughout their first day and week at your company, but it’s also important to give them time to go over new materials and properly retain each piece of new information.
Digitize important onboarding materials
Manual paperwork is a time-consuming and stressful part of human resource management. However, a newfound benefit to remote work during the pandemic has been the implementation of virtual onboarding and training materials that can be accessed at any time by new hires and managers from home alike.
By transitioning document signing, company policies, rule books and training materials to digital copies, employers can streamline the onboarding process for both HR and new hires. For example, sharing and filing tax documents, contracts and payroll information can be as easy as sending a link or signing into your company’s preferred platform. Within your company’s online platform or website, HR should also include an FAQ page for more information and a contact page for additional questions.
This cuts back on labor costs as HR and new hires can spend more time engaging with each other and their teams. For some roles, you can also implement onboarding tools that include training videos and/or learning modules that cover specific role needs.
Remote work is here to stay, so learning how to onboard and train new hires in the virtual workplace is a high priority for all companies moving forward. HR teams that successfully transition to online onboarding and training will be able to not only improve efficiency, but also overall job satisfaction and employee engagement.
According to SHRM, overall HR recruiting budgets have decreased this past year due to the pandemic. Employee retention is crucial for companies to be successful in the current remote work landscape. By investing in new hire digital onboarding and training, your team will vastly improve the remote experience for all of your employees — not just new hires.
The best course of action for HR professionals is to mirror the in-person onboarding experience for remote workers as best as possible. The more interactive the schedule is for your employees, the more likely they will have a positive and lasting experience with your company.