Onboarding Remotely? We’ve Been There!

Today, amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 virus, employers are turning to remote working to continue operating business at a semi-normal pace. In fact, in early March allsynx’ office locations were temporarily closed to protect the safety and well-being of all employees and their families. Employees from client service representatives to executive levels were asked to stay home, stay healthy and work remotely until further notice. This scenario may be more than familiar to you as well. As the lead for the Talent Development team at allsynx, it is my responsibility to make sure my team is well trained to conduct virtual learning, especially in the case of onboarding.

As a business, allsynx markets a software to organizations looking to simplify their HRIS and benefit enrollment. Our product makes insurance enrollments easier for the average employee, while also customizing the experience. The majority of our core client’s enroll in their benefits during the summer months, making our busy season roughly April through September. Due to the productivity increase, allsynx’s biggest hiring month is March, allowing enough time for new hires to be trained before they hit the ground running. When March 2020 rolled around, my question became: How can my team successfully onboard our new hires with a completely remote staff? From my experience the success of a remote onboarding program can be best characterized as preparedness, time dedicated to learning, and support.

Remote working may be an entirely new concept to any new hire, which can be extremely daunting. The best way to ease this transition is to make sure everything is ready for them come day one. The best way to prepare is to do the following:

  1. Submit a Request for Equipment

An obvious statement is, remote employees can only work if they have the equipment to do so. It essential to order any staple before a newbie’s start date. Required materials may include a laptop, desktop monitors, a headset, a backpack, encryption or security attachments and more. At allsynx, we partner with the IT and Human Resource departments, as well as the hiring manager to be sure these mandatory equipment items are available for pickup or delivery for the new hire.

2. Send a Welcome Email

If possible, a great way to jump-start the remote onboarding experience is to send a welcome email two-three weeks before the determined start date. It is important that this email come from the employee who will be spending the most time with the new hire during their first few weeks. This person could be the trainer, the supervisor or even a peer. The purpose of this email to make the new hire feel welcome and give them a taste of your company culture. At allsynx, we recently started to include a survey asking fun questions like, “What is your favorite candy?” or “Do you have any hobbies?”. Any response we receive from the survey, we can use to purchase a customized, first day swag bag.

3. Add New Hire to Company Org Chart

One challenge when working remotely is introducing new hires to current employees. A great way to start this process early is to add the new hires to your company organization chart. allsynx utilizes PingBoard software, which is an interactive org chart that makes it easy for employees to view department hierarchy and personal employee details, like birthdays and position titles.

4. Create Logins

Let’s say the remote new hire has successfully received all their required equipment – but how can they start working if they do not have access to their accounts? In my past experience, it is best to create all necessary logins at least one week before the new hire’s start date. Here at allsynx, we recommend sending all login credentials to the Hiring Supervisor; this not only verifies that the logins have already been created, but also gives the supervisor access to the Newbie’s account until their hire date.

5. Send a “Survival Kit”

Often times when a new hire starts a remote position, it can be intimidating to understand an organization’s culture. Several years ago the manager for Benefits Technology at allsynx, Amanda Cheek, came up the idea of “newbie survival kits”. The survival kits lend comfort to all our remote new hires. In these survival kits we include personalized items based on the newbie’s survey answers from the welcome email, a company branded t-shirt, a few branded pens, mouse pads, and whatever else we have in stock to share. We have the survival kit packaged and ready for delivery the first week of the newbie’s employment!

6. Schedule Orientation Day

About two weeks before the new hire’s start date, Orientation Day should be scheduled and put on the new hire’s calendar. Orientation Day for a full-time remote worker is more than important! While it is commonly advised to host an orientation day in-office, the Talent Development team at allsynx has found that hosting orientation day in the location where the newbie will spend their regular day to day is much more efficient. There are a lot of new habits that these new hires will need to adapt, so make it easier on them by hosting Orientation Day remotely as well. Schedule these video conferences with all appropriate parties in advance so the newbie knows exactly what to expect from his or her first day.

7. Encourage Peer Knowledge Transfers

I mentioned earlier the challenge of introducing new remote employees to current employees. Another great way to get new hires comfortable with the rest of your teams are Peer Knowledge Transfer. At allsynx, we actually incorporate these hour-long meetings into our new hire training program. We schedule one Peer Knowledge Transfer (PKT) every day with a new department member. During these PKT sessions, the veteran employees will walk the new hire(s) through their daily tasks. This allows the newbies to meet their coworkers, get a glimpse of the work going on in different roles, and gives the newbies a sense of respect for that work. The Peer Knowledge Transfers are usually the most popular part of orientation. The new hires seem to really enjoy it – and it gives you, the trainer, a break to focus on other work!

8. Create and Provide ‘First Day Docs’

It can be intimidating for any new hire to start at a new job. A great way to get your new hire comfortable sooner, rather than later, is to provide a few First Day Documents. These documents may include a contact sheet of important phone numbers, policies and expectations, login credentials, and more. In addition, we have found it helpful to include photos on this documentation. The photos are another way for the remote new hires to associate names to faces! Lastly, be sure include these documents in an email available to the new hire on their first day. The individual can keep these documents online or choose to print them out.

9. Request a Photo

Ask the new hire for a photo! These photos can be used as a staff photo, in a social media post and even in a company announcement! At allsynx, the Talent Development team will create an internal welcome post introducing the newbie with their name, position, team and submitted photo. Like they say… a picture is worth 1000 words! Just make sure to include some guidelines when you request the new hire’s photo. At allsynx we have found that 800×800 dimensions work best, landscape style is ideal, and the picture should be taken from the sternum up.

10. Update Training/Content

Prior to the new hire’s start date, remember to update any content or training relevant. It is important to do this before the new hire’s first day because they will immediately feel like they are part of the organization. The more you can do to help a remote employee feel welcome, the more quickly you will see them succeed!

Onboarding a new hire is already intense without the extra challenge of remoteness. That being said, remote new hires are more than manageable. If you remember nothing else from this post, remember that the success of remote onboarding lies in your preparedness, your dedication to remote learning and your extra support. Be there for your remote newbies, and they will be successful!

To learn more feel free to contact us at learn@allsynx.com, and happy learning!

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