by | Oct 8, 2020

How do you onboard new employees when everyone is working from home? In a recent Tribe benchmarking survey, many respondents said they’d successfully moved the process online, thanks to the pandemic. To onboard remote employees, they simply send them links to the intranet with all the forms and resources they need to set up everything from health insurance to software log ins. Since working from home seems to be the new normal for the foreseeable future, this is bigger than a short-term fix.

Sharing forms to fill out is easier than sharing the culture

But what about onboarding beyond those logistics? We need to help new hires make connections with the people on their team, not to mention other teams, without the benefit of meeting each other in person. We need to help them get a feel for the culture, without being in the same office with people who live and breathe that culture. When they’ve never stepped foot in the building, how do we help them feel part of the team?

Zoom: It’s sort of almost like being there in person

Right now, the answer to helping new hires build working relationships seems to mean spending a lot of time on Zoom or Teams or whatever video conferencing system your company uses. One participant in our benchmarking discussion said he’d recently brought a new person onto his team and for the first few weeks spent hours every day with her on Zoom. But other managers may not be devoting that amount of one-on-one time to their new remote hires. Another benchmarking participant shared that she’d hired a very senior person to her team several months ago, and didn’t realize until recently how difficult it had been for even a highly experienced new hire to develop those human connections with only the benefit of video, phone and email.

Beyond building human connections, we also need to find new ways for remote-working new hires to become steeped in the culture. Communicating the vision and values is one part of that, but there’s the more complex and organic element of seeing the culture in action, watching how it guides decision making and influences behavior. (For more on how the mission, vision and values impact engagement, try this post.)

As long as you’re on video, you might as well connect globally

One bright spot is that many companies who’ve re-engineered their onboarding process for remote employees have found that it’s helped employees build relationships globally rather than only in their office location. For instance, one participant noted that the first few weeks of a new hire’s tenure pre-pandemic would typically include face-to-face meetings with colleagues in the same and other teams. Now that those face-to-face meetings are taking place over video, new hires are more likely to meet colleagues across the globe as well as those in their local office.

If you have thoughts for how to improve the process for onboarding remote employees, we’d love to add you to our ongoing benchmarking group. And if you’re interested in improving your remote employee experience, Tribe can help.

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