Updated with new Onboarding Templates – at bottom of article.
Let’s Reminisce: Your First Day
How about a brief trip down memory lane? Recall your first day in a new role.
- If you worked in a traditional office, was a workspace set up just for you? (Maybe a fun company swag bundle came along with it!)
- Did a supervisor or teammate walk you through internal processes, giving you the inside scoop on resources and a list of where to go for help?
- When Day 1 concluded, were you left feeling positive about your next professional chapter?
Your responses indicate whether your first onboarding experience was wholly worthwhile—or worth forgetting altogether. The hard truth: even the best recruiting efforts go to waste when faulty processes disengage employees on Day 1.
So how do we describe this all-too-important intro to a new role and workplace? Onboarding is the process a company employs to acclimate recent hires to its culture, team, workflows and policies. Traditionally, it occurred in face-to-face work environments; fully virtual and distributed firms are now grappling with ways to successfully onboard colleagues at a distance.
Solid onboarding is the lifeblood of every remote team because:
- It provides the necessary structure for early success;
- It introduces new teammates to the company culture;
- It identifies learning gaps and skill development opportunities early;
- And it accelerates recruits’ effective contributions and competencies.
These are all things you want for your company and your job, right? Yet getting to those outcomes involves thoughtful planning. The Workplaceless team has attempted to demystify remote onboarding for you, below.
Ideally, onboarding programs should have the following six interconnected components. (These definitely impact one another and often occur in tandem).
Adapting to a virtual environment requires a number of mental, emotional and procedural adjustments. Having a remote-focused training program in place can set a new employee on the right track immediately.
Protip: Effective training requires a deliberate method, not an ad hoc approach; companies need to invest in instruction that will grow with employees. Our acclaimed Workplaceless certification program provides the structure and tools to ensure organizations and employees are reaping the benefits of effective onboarding right from the start.
Teams today stay in touch through both synchronous and asynchronous options, which form the basis for the majority of their interaction and collaboration. When new remote employees join teams, it’s critical for managers to take a proactive approach in introducing those new employees to colleagues—for both relationship building and access to resources. If that’s missed from the beginning it can be difficult for the employee to feel integrated into the team and take longer to form relationships. Not to mention it can delay work product with employees not knowing who to turn to for resources and guidance. Consider setting up some virtual teams events as well as 1:1s within the first week of employment.
Protip: Whether using messaging platforms, email clients, or video conference systems, consider the ways in which each medium could be optimized to benefit different types of information exchanges (e.g. internal discussions, status updates and more.)
The almighty (and incredibly dusty) handbook has gotten a digital makeover. Cloud-based documents and interactive checklists now help teams to quickly and easily navigate complex processes and vast amounts of information.
Protip: Take a peak at Trainual for help in keeping all your documentation in one virtual location. We’ve also recently launched Goplaceless, a comprehensive program to provide structure when transitioning traditional roles to remote work. Our remote handbook helps you develop the start-to-finish documentation best suited to your company.
Processes & Schedule
These are the steps taken to ensure that information is conveyed and that opportunities exist to provide feedback and ask questions. The process and schedule for your firm could include a mix of meetings, check ins, emails, Slack messages, etc.
Protip: Provide an example schedule for a teammate’s first day and week of work. Day 1 plans should provide as much structure as possible, including critical AM and close-of-business check ins.
The programs and platforms you use for planning, knowledge management purposes, and day-to-day work constitute your organization’s tools—and play an important role in onboarding.
Protip: Tools can serve as digital communications hubs and as company archives; providing immediate access (along with a tutorial) and creating a tool dashboard offers a helpful overview of the tools your team uses daily.
Establishing Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) and aligning them to Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) help fresh recruits understand how their work ties into broader company goals and how their performance will be assessed.
Protip: Create rubrics/matrices for your company’s work products that clearly convey expectations; set, share and discuss guidelines so that everyone starts out on the same page. We recently started using Weekdone to keep track of individual + team + company OKRs. Share what tools you use to keep track!
The Final Word: Rocking Best Practices Remotely
We can’t emphasize enough just how important it is to have a central location where your documentation ‘lives’ (e.g. at Workplaceless, is curated in the Learning Management System also used by our clients). Here are a couple of examples from our friends at Trello and Gitlab
Plus, our very own checklists. Feel free to copy & modify to fit your team needs!
Have other examples to share, or a protip to offer? Hit us up on Twitter: @Workplaceless.
Kristi DePaul contributed to this post.