Few things in life are more exciting than the first day of a new job. Between going over job expectations, meeting new colleagues, and mapping out exactly how long it takes to get from your desk to the breakroom, there’s a lot to cover.
That’s true even if your new job has you working from home and you’ve already timed your pace from office to kitchen. In many ways, a more thorough onboarding process is even more important for remote staff.
Not only does it set the tone for their tenure at your organization, you also want to ensure remote employees have a good sense of your company culture. That’s an experience that can be harder to grasp, especially if they’ve not worked remotely before.
What’s more, it’s estimated that 36.2 million of us will work remotely by 2025. To put that into perspective, that’s 87% more than in 2021. Yet, only 17 percent of organizations have “developed systems for onboarding new leaders in remote-work environments,” according to a survey in Harvard Business Review.
To simplify the process of remote onboarding, many organizations are utilizing technology tools to help them roll out the welcome mat for new hires. Here are four you can use to make a good first impression.
1. Invest in a comprehensive online onboarding portal.
Streamlining all the necessary info that comes with ramping up a new employee can be challenging. Doing it remotely adds on yet another layer of complexity.
Because the information exchange needs to be both seamless and secure, digital portals are becoming the go-to solution. Making your onboarding materials more centralized and easily accessible can substantially improve the efficiency and effectiveness of your remote new hire training.
2. Utilize chatbots to answer FAQs.
It’s estimated that 1.4 billion people now use AI–enabled chatbots on a regular basis. They’re not just helpful for retail or banking organizations either. Chatbots are also proving particularly helpful early on during remote onboarding scenarios.
Think about the questions you’re liable to hear most often during an onboarding session. They’re likely more generic. Things that can be easily answered by a handbook – but who actually reads those all the way through?
Chatbots are superstars when it comes to addressing frequently asked questions with a bit of friendly dialog. In fact, chatbots can fully answer about 80% of standard queries.
3. Use collaboration and communication tools to build stronger remote teams.
In their 2020 State of Remote Work report, Buffer revealed that 20% of remote workers regard difficulties with collaboration and communication as their biggest struggle with working remotely.
The solution? Digital collaboration tools that open up new lines of communications among WFH teams.
In thinking about how to better manage the loneliness and isolation of remote staff, Adam Hickman, Ph.D., content manager at Gallup shares, “Employees dealing with isolation at work can’t get the materials or information they need, they think their achievements or development are ignored, they feel cut off from the business. That isn’t an emotional issue, it’s a technical one…having the materials and equipment you need to do your work right is fundamental to engagement.”
His suggestion? Encourage online group chats to give teams a sense of hallway or watercooler chitter chat.
4. Encourage videoconferencing.
Working remotely makes it hard to put a face to a name, even if there is an image icon in your email or messaging profile.
To help team members establish trust and get a sense of the person behind the title, set up video introductions with different departments. Include managers and supervisors, many of whom may want to do more frequent video check-ins as remote new hires are getting established.
If you really want to go the extra mile, try organizing video mentoring pairs!
As Lauren Smith, vice president in the Gartner HR practice, tells Eightfold.AI, “Integrating a new hire into an organization and ramping them up to full productivity and engagement is challenging with traditional onboarding programs. As onboarding for many jobs has now moved to be virtual, these challenges can be compounded by the realities of remote work.” Following these suggestions will help everyone navigate the new normal and give it their all – no matter where they punch the clock.