Navigating the challenges of onboarding new staff remotely

Aug 11, 2020

The way we work has most certainly changed and those companies who are in a fortunate position to take on more staff may find themselves in unchartered waters. White collar recruitment is not what it use to be.

To help navigate us through these new waters, Rachel Tubridy, Managing Director of finance recruitment company PeopleSource, gives Boost My Business some useful tips to coordinate the remote onboarding process.

"Nowadays when people inquire about a job they'll ask 'Is it homeworking or office working?' whereas that never happened before," says Rachel Tubridy. "People might have asked ‘Do you think there might be a possibility of working from home one or two days a week?’

"And the stock response would have been ‘go in there, prove yourself, build the trust and then there could be that flexibility’."

Around one in ten people now want to work from home full time And of those 80% feel they have proven they can do their job perfectly from home. 

Source: PeopleSource Survey

An independent survey, conducted by PeopleSource, also found that 85% of those surveyed would like to work from home two or three days a week. "You now have to accommodate that and any company who doesn't accommodate that will potentially open themselves up to losing staff members."

Onboarding new staff remotely has its challenges, there are important parts of the office environment which can not be recreated over email or Zoom, and learning new processes can prove difficult and time consuming when staff are not sitting side by side.

Tubridy has the following tips to help smooth over the rocky remote onboarding experience:

Welcome Pack: Send out the laptop, phone and any anything they might need and welcome them to the company. Make them feel like they have joined a team.

Introductions to the teams: Don't add your new hires to six email groups and leave it to them to have make the introductions. Hold Zoom meetings with the new colleagues they’ll be dealing with and have everyone introduce themselves.

Introduce them to a buddy: Introduce them to a someone who they can have a chat with during a work break or if they are close in location so they can meet for coffee in person.

Get feedback from your new hires: Get feedback from the person you are onboarding every couple of days. How are they feeling? Where do they think the gaps are? This is as much for them as it is for you, it’s a learning curve for everyone.

Make sure your processes are up to date: Are they online? Are they easily accessible? Are they relevant and up to date?

Make them aware of who they are dealing with: Everyone has a different personality and approach to their work. This can be easily picked up on in an office setting but working remotely this 'feel of the office’ is lost. Be open and honest about how everyone operates to ensure a better work environment for new employees.

Candidates need to take ownership of their new position from day one

It's not only up to the company to make the onboarding experience run smooth, the employees have to take responsibility and step up to their new position.

"Every company wants somebody who's proactive, who uses initiative, who takes ownership - they are regular competencies that are required for most jobs nowadays," says Tubridy. 

You can't just sit there at nine o'clock on your first day and do nothing. Think about what you going to do and what you want to achieve for the week. What do you need to know to get by? Engage even if you feel it should be the company's responsibility to do that," she advises.

"Just like Covid we are all in it together, we all have to work together to succeed and you can't be waiting on somebody else. There's never been a better opportunity for candidates or employees to shine really - it's not about the hours that you're at your desk anymore it about the output, it's about the projects that you've delivered," she adds.

Fiona Alston - RTÉ Journalist

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