By Claire Boucher

The world has seen a dramatic shift in 2020 from established office life to the majority of professionals working from home. While completely unexpected and unplanned for, this shift has revealed a number of significant benefits that now have many businesses considering making the change permanent. Employers are realising that they can significantly reduce overhead costs, and are no longer geographically limited in their hiring choices.

Some of the greatest benefits are for employees who are reclaiming time and money from their commutes. Research from McCrindle shows that 65% of Australians who worked from home through COVID-19 reported a better work/life balance, and over half felt their productivity had improved. A full 88% said that working from home was here to stay.

Many businesses are also adopting a hybrid approach to capitalise on work-from-home advantages and mitigating the disadvantages. The hot desk is ready to make a comeback as businesses offer smaller, flexible office spaces for team members to drop in one or two days a week.

If you’re thinking of adopting a fully remote or hybrid workforce, you’ll need to reconsider how you onboard future employees. That’s why we’ve put together all our best tips for adapting your onboarding program to cater for employees working from home.

Tip #1 - Identify the need-to-know

Whether you’re a veteran onboarder or just starting out, the first step is to identify the content that your new team members need to know to get started. And we really mean get started. We don’t mean “teach them everything that Gary who’s been here for 20 years knows.” That approach will lead to a bloated program, overwhelming your new team member and placing unreasonable expectations on their ability to get up to speed.

Instead, consider constructing two to three learning objectives by asking the question, ‘What do I want my new team member to be able to do?’ and using verbs to answer it. Potential learning objectives may be:

  • Apply company values to their work
  • Identify and use appropriate tools for completing tasks
  • Follow company policies

Clear learning objects will help you to carefully review all potential content and evaluate the value of each piece to identify what content is truly relevant to your onboarding program and what is better placed elsewhere. 

Tip #2 - Order your content

As you narrow down the content you want to use, it’s important to structure it in order of importance or urgency. The first day on a new job is always intimidating and there will be plenty of new faces, places and procedures for your new team member to process. Avoid overwhelming them with less important information that could be shared at a later time.

At HowToo, we like to structure items around the three categories of “First Day, First Week and First Month.” This allows us to really hone in on what is most important, and what can wait until the new team member is more settled. We then create checklists that align to each category to keep everyone on track with key tasks.

As you sort your content, collect any documents, links or other resources that match your key items so that everything is in the same place.

Tip #3 - Develop your virtual content

Once you know what your new team member needs to know, it’s time to put it together in a form that can be delivered remotely. As HowToo has onboarded a number of employees remotely this year, we’ve found a blended model of video calls and digital learning has worked brilliantly.

Video calls are crucial for welcoming the new employee to the company and introducing them to the rest of the team. However, video calls can also be exhausting, and your new employee is unlikely to enjoy hours of listening while you teach them everything they need to know.

Instead, take off the mental load and change things up by putting content online with a digital learning platform. This consists of two elements: 

  1. A content authoring tool to create modules that contain the content, and
  2. A Learning Management System (LMS) to host the modules and track completion.

HowToo is an example of a content authoring tool that allows you to turn your content into beautiful induction modules that can be easily uploaded to an LMS, or shared with a URL. We’ve used HowToo to create an induction module that introduces our new team members to our company story and values, answer FAQs and introduce our mental health support program. We’ve even included audio snippets from different team members sharing their advice for getting started on the right foot. 

With an LMS like HowToo Hub, you can connect several modules on different topics together in a learning pathway shaped by the new team member’s role. They can work through these modules at their own pace between video calls, giving them some much-needed down time, as well as a single point of reference for information and resources.

Learn how to make dull training engaging.

Tip #4 - Designate a buddy or point of contact

Your new team member will undoubtedly have plenty of questions as they get started. In an office location, they might find it easy to turn to the people seated around them, but when working alone at home, they might find it much more challenging to know the etiquette around who they can call, and when. This can be particularly challenging if they are joining a large team, or their onboarding is being handled by the HR department.

One way to overcome this uncertainty is to designate a buddy or point of contact for your new team member. This person should be someone in the same department, either a team leader or a colleague working in a similar area. Let both people know that the buddy is open to calls to answer questions when they need.

It’s also a good idea to schedule calls with different team members across their first week, or invite them to join additional meetings where they can meet new people. This will help them to feel more at ease when reaching out to others as they work.

Now it’s your turn!

Remote onboarding shouldn’t be a daunting task, and executing it well is key to developing committed and enthusiastic team members. By planning your content carefully and choosing the right tools to execute it, you’ll find it a breeze.

Download our FREE eBook on ‘4 Ways to Maximise Effective Remote Working for Teams’