You’re excited and ready for your first day as a new employee for a remote company. You get up, get ready, then… take a few steps, sit down at your own desk in your own house and meet your new coworkers over Zoom. Slightly anti-climatic no? As we know, working from home can be isolating even for employees that have been working with the same company throughout the pandemic, so beginning a job without having even met your colleagues in person can double down on that feeling.

As remote working structures become more and more prevalent in today’s corporate world, it is clear that the new hire onboarding processes of yesteryear simply can’t cut it any more. Whereas new employees used to be welcomed in person, get a tour of the office, meet their coworkers, easily ask questions, have open conversations and enjoy a sense of belonging, remote employees are not able to receive that same welcome into the community.

Having a successful and structured employee onboarding process is absolutely integral to the long term success of your team and company. Not convinced? Studies have shown that a strong onboarding process can improve employee retention by 82%, not to mention boost both job satisfaction and productivity. To contrast, a different study suggests that a negative onboarding experience will lower morale, increase inefficiencies in workflow and lead to higher employee turnover.

So how do you improve your remote onboarding process? Keep in mind, we’re not just thinking about the first few weeks, but well into the future. Your goal should be to integrate your new hire into the community you’ve built while maintaining positive company culture and fostering professional growth and personal connection. Well luckily at Moniker, we’re experts at corporate culture and we’ve got you covered. Here are 6 Ways to Improve Your Remote Onboarding.

1. Treat Them

Your new hire has worked hard to get this job; they’re excited, they’ve celebrated and they’re ready. Show them you are just as excited to have them here. One of the easiest ways to show them they’re welcome, and start off on the right (read: amazing) foot is to send them a unique care package. Company swag, gift cards and yummy treats are always welcome. However, you can certainly take it up a notch with some fun and fancy welcome balloons like we did for one of our newest hires last year! Make sure to include a personal note as well. This is a chance to make them feel valued and appreciated so don’t skip out on this step!

2. Create Structure + Learn in Small Steps

It is clear that unstructured and casual onboarding not only contributes to a negative onboarding process but also does not yield the same long term positive results as a more comprehensive plan. Creating a clear structure and effectively communicating that to your new hires can make a world of difference. The key here is to facilitate learning in small steps, and don’t bombard them with information all in one day. Instead, create a schedule that outlines a logical order of disseminating information. Communicate this schedule, your expectations and learning outcomes in your first meeting. This clear understanding automatically helps your new hires feel more at ease and taken care of in their process and will lead to a much more effective onboarding process.

3. Provide an Orientation Buddy

When an employee starts a new job, there are bound to be questions…and lots of them. And because they can’t simply swivel their chair to their desk neighbour and fire a question at them, we need to mimic that same ability in an online setting. Setting your new hire up with an “orientation buddy” is a great way to ensure they have someone dedicated to answering their questions, even the small ones. So instead of not knowing who to ask, being scared to ask questions, or going to different people for every question, having an orientation buddy will streamline this process. It also allows some friendly connection right off the bat and will improve your onboarding and efficiency.

4. Keep it Social

One study has shown that 58% of organizations admitted that most of their onboarding was simply filling out official paperwork and forms. While these are obviously important to get out of the way, employee onboarding needs to be seen as much more. In fact, it needs to include all aspects that allow an employee to get to know their coworkers, and feel like a valued part of the team.

So this includes, you guessed it, company socials. These can be internal such as virtual happy hours, get-to-know-you questions in staff meetings, or other fun virtual activities. Or you can outsource for an interactive, unique and immersive team-building game like Moniker’s very own virtual experiences. Either way, organizing a social event soon after your employee’s start date will not only bring everyone together but also show your employee that you value positive company culture.

5. Mimic The Quintessential Watercooler Chat 

Ah yes, the watercooler chit chat. A seemingly small, but in truth quite significant part of the workplace that is sorely missed in the virtual world. It helps with day to day communication, getting to know people from other departments and encourages healthy breaks throughout the day. Well luckily, Donut realized the need for this in the remote working space and created a way for us to take part in this vital activity via Slack.

You can add this app directly to your company’s slack and throughout the day it will prompt everyone with unique and out of the box, get-to-know you questions. Think: What’s your favourite pasta noodle? If you could live in any fictional world, which one would it be? Show us a photo from your childhood! These questions are designed to put a smile on your face, encourage further conversation and even start a friendly debate! Is cereal classified as a soup? Who’s to say!

The advantages of these small but significant moments are not just for the new hires, but for everyone. They’ll brighten everyone’s days, foster connection and encourage a valuable mental health break, increasing productivity and job satisfaction.

EXTRA TIP: Take it one step further with Donut Intros. Donut will automatically introduce teammates via direct message and encourage virtual coffee chats, virtual lunches or even a little cheeky after work drink over Zoom. These smaller meetups allow employee connection to grow and strengthen workplace culture. Not a Slack user? That’s okay. Try Coffee Pals instead!

6. Think Long Term

According to this study the general mindset around onboarding is that it should only take a few weeks. In fact only 37% of companies extend their onboarding beyond a month. Ideal onboarding time is actually much longer than that and can last anywhere from 4 - 6 months. While you may be surprised, you can drastically improve your process by reframing the idea of onboarding to encompass an employee’s long-term learning progress and then analyzing how to best help them improve.

If 4 months seems daunting, break it down into a 30 - 60 - 90 day checklist and include a one-on-one check in with them at each of these intervals. Offer extra training opportunities, answer questions and have an open conversation about their goals. This shows them you genuinely care about their achievements and will not only make them feel valued, but also incentivize them to keep working hard in return. Remember: if you want them to succeed long term, you must also think well into the future and give them the proper tools to do so. 

EXTRA TIP: Ask for feedback. Your new hires are the best assets for improving your onboarding process as they have first-hand experience. Allow them to provide feedback and be willing to make positive changes, and you are well on your way!

Keep Improving

From the first few days on the job to 6 months in, the onboarding process is a journey. Putting time and effort into creating a clear, long-term and structured system will make all the difference in your employee productivity and satisfaction. Don’t forget the invaluable social aspects of this process; a sense of belonging is vital to a strong and positive company culture. Your onboarding process is the perfect opportunity to show your new hires exactly why they chose to work with you.

Happy Onboarding!