Digital onboarding - 5 tips for remote employees

The goal of successful onboarding is to train new employees in new tasks through targeted training and discussions and to get them used to their new work environment so that they can find their way into the new role as quickly as possible. In addition to professional input, this also includes regular social contacts with the new team.

In times of Corona, companies are faced with an additional challenge in this context: purely digital onboarding. How can such a process work without direct personal contact? We have put together the most important tips in the following article.

Onboarding completely digital - is that possible?

A pure digital recruitment process is a major challenge for both companies and employees. Job interviews via Skype have already become standard methods if, for various reasons, the applicant cannot appear in person for the interview. However, complete digital onboarding is not yet so widespread.

Some companies that have worked with remote freelancers or employees from other countries in the past have already been able to gain experience in digital training. For such a process, you not only need the technical requirements, you should always take into account the skills and responsibilities of a new employee and his integration into the new team.

Phases of onboarding

Depending on the role of the new employee and many other factors, the onboarding period can last from a few weeks to several months. However, it always consists of the following phases:

Preboarding : Preboarding pays particular attention to social integration into the new team and company. The new employee should feel that the employer is taking care of them. In this phase, in addition to initial technical information, organizational aspects should also be communicated (e.g. working hours, break times, work clothes, etc.).

Orientation : The process phase "Orientation" should offer a great start in the new company with the first working day. The first impression of the team, superiors and company counts more than you think. This phase comprises approximately the first weeks of the new employee.

Training and integration: The focus here is on structured and efficient training. The better this is designed, the sooner the new employee can work productively. A well-designed induction plan is extremely helpful. 

Practical tips for digital onboarding

In the following paragraph you will find concrete practical tips for the digital training of new employees:

1. Organization is everything

Document your onboarding process so that it can be easily adapted and digitally implemented. Your onboarding document should be in the form of a to-do list. Share it with your new employee right from the start to make sure you share expectations and both are on the same page. The document should also be divided into different sections to track employee progress while increasing motivation.

Items listed in this list can be:

    • Things to do before the new employee starts work, including a welcome email to the team and documents to fill out (e.g., tax, wage, and insurance forms).
    • Information to collect the new employee comprehensively about the company, the product or the service. For example with facts about the company, an introduction to relevant tools and software, login / password / security information and a list of employees and how to get in touch with them.
    • Descriptions of recurring tasks, including regular catch-ups with your manager and anything else you can think of to make your new employee feel like a valued member of your team despite the lack of personal contact.

2. Personal conversations via video conference

New employees should be greeted personally. This gives the new team member the opportunity to introduce themselves, ask questions and memorize the names of new colleagues faster based on their faces.

With the right video conference tool , you don't have to do without this personal communication even in times of Corona. By integrating video conferences into your onboarding process, you bring the office to your new employees. How about a team lunch for the first day? Or a virtual tour of the office?

3. Set clear expectations and goals

It is particularly important for the new employee that you communicate clear goals and expectations right from the start. The lack of direct and personal contact can easily lead to misunderstandings. On the other hand, if you sit together in a team in the office, there is less inhibition to ask questions. You might not put this on your home PC, because you would have to write an e-mail or make a call.

Another way to set goals for new employees to work on is to assign a mentor or coach from the team. Its aim is to make the new employee feel like a member of the working family despite the lack of personal contact.

4. Socializing with the new team

This is possibly the most difficult part of the digital onboarding process. The corporate culture is conveyed effortlessly when new employees spend time in the office and interact with their colleagues. But how do employees get to know a company's professional and social norms remotely?

A little work is required, but building relationships between local colleagues and colleagues outside the company is well worth the effort. Communication is the key. Speaking "face to face" via video chats, instant messaging and conference calls helps to maintain connections. Always remember that you also involve employees in other locations in meetings and encourage them to share their ideas and opinions.

5. Get feedback regularly

Constant evaluation and adjustments are important. After onboarding, ask new employees for feedback on the process and the first few weeks in the new company. What could or should you have done better or differently? What questions were asked that you didn't expect? Did you offer enough support so that your new employees feel comfortable working remotely?

The more feedback you get, the better, because every company is different. This applies not only to the service and product offered, but also to the way in which employees act and communicate with one another.

Digital onboarding - soon a routine?

In the age of Corona, digital onboarding is an important step in maintaining normal everyday work in many companies. Because the hiring process and the training of the new employee are digital, new employees can still start at the start of the contract. In addition, companies do not have to order a hiring freeze, for fear of not being able to onboard the new employees.

The weeks after the Corona pandemic will show the extent to which digital onboarding is also integrated into normal corporate processes. However, the digitization trend speaks in favor of this, because home offices, video conferences and other digital processes are becoming an increasingly common part of everyday life for German employees.

Do you have questions about the digital onboarding process and the training of new employees in your company? Computer Futures consultants will be happy to assist you - we look forward to hearing from you using our form.


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