Of all the concerns managers have about leading a remote team, perhaps one of the most daunting ones is how to effectively onboard a new team member to a fully remote team. In many organizations where remote work is an option, they still choose to initiate onboarding in person. In-person onboarding helps set the new employee off on the right foot and enables them to be effective in their new role quickly. While remote onboarding may not be ideal, with appropriate planning and effort the quality of the onboarding experience needn’t be sacrificed.
Here are a few tips for remote onboarding:
In just a few short weeks the general population went from having an awareness of the threat COVID-19 (coronavirus illness) had on their lives to being faced with possible shelter-in-place orders. When so much has changed in such a short period of time, it becomes hard to remember what “normal” business/life looked like even a few weeks ago. Even now, I’m having a hard time remembering what the most immediate stressors were in my own role a few weeks ago.
As global efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) become more aggressive, many organizations are temporarily allowing their employees to work in remote teams. These proactive steps to reduce the risk of infection are prudent but not without challenges. The concept of working remotely is far from new—roughly 20-25% of the US workforce currently telecommutes at least part time. Yet, when polled, up to 90% of workers said they’d prefer the option to work from home at least occasionally. The technology to meet via video conference, instant message, group chat, and collaborate in real time on documents has been widely used for years. So, organizations that have not yet embraced the flexibility of remote work likely have deep-rooted beliefs about the impact remote working will have on communication, collaboration, and productivity.
The World Health Organization has advised that we should all be prepared for a global pandemic due to COVID-19 (commonly referred to as Coronavirus). In response, organizations are rapidly addressing policies, evaluating risk, and examining their disaster recovery plans. Whether the United States will contain the spread of the virus or not, there will be a significant global economic effect that may continue for some time. While some organizations are being proactive about offering remote working options even in areas where no infections have been reported, others are more aggressively working to prevent infection by prohibiting work-related travel and cancelling conferences.
Identifying and developing your HiPos, the employees who are most likely to make impact on the organization, should be at the top of every organization’s strategic plans. With historically low unemployment and heavy pressure from headhunters/recruiters, your best employees are at high risk of being poached by your competitors every day. By engaging the right employees early, casting a vision for their career progression, and investing in their development, you’re likely to create a stronger talent pool to fill senior leader positions as they become available.
From a very early age, our brains have been trained to evaluate “fit.” We place a series of objects in front of toddlers and assess whether they can identify the common theme and which item doesn’t belong. Those of us who grew up with Sesame Street can probably sing the “One of these things is not like the other” song from memory.
Fast forward 20+ years and our brains are still working subconsciously to evaluate similarities and differences. We tend to connect more easily with people who think, feel, and behave the same way that we do. We accept small variations from our natural preferences in others, but as the differences become more extreme it takes more energy to accommodate others. Collaborating together can be more challenging, and communicating effectively takes effort.