Expert Tips for Successfully Onboarding Remote Workers During the COVID-19 Crisis

Don’t Stop Training During Times of Crisis

These precautions are forcing companies to move quickly to find alternatives to onsite training initiatives. Organisations generally struggle to onboard employees even when times are good and relatively stable and predictable. However training programs like leadership development, sales training, onboarding, diversity and inclusion , and digital transformation are more important than ever right now to business and employee success.

They can’t be delayed or put on hold as they are vital to employee skill-building and engagement as well as business growth and continuity. As a result, companies are seeking efficient and effective ways to quickly move these training programs online during these uncertain times.

Online training programs are nothing new, but for organisations that are new to remote work, managers may have a difficult time prioritising their employees training needs. We suggest the best place to focus on, first, is the onboarding experience.

Prioritizing Onboarding

For employers lucky enough to still be hiring, the first impressions count, and that applies to the new hire experience just as much as it does to meeting any individual for the first time.

If the onboarding process is confusing or disorganised your new employee may just start job hunting again before they even get through the first day. To get your new employee to stay and succeed, you need to supply the tools and connections required to allow them to succeed. This includes helping them integrate into the company culture, as well as training on processes and procedures.

It is quite important to set the right tone for who you are as an employer, you want to address individuals’ primary concerns, and make them feel welcome and supported as they start this new journey while making sure they understand your company’s mission and values.

Consider a virtual mentor

Assigning new employees a virtual mentor who can build them a customized learning path can speed up the onboarding time and allow for more personalised learning. This sets them for success and gives them a strong foundation to build on.

When employees who are used to working in the office start working from home, they can wind up feeling isolated and cut off from their co-workers. Research published by the Lancet revealed that people who are isolated with no support systems, especially when working from home, reported multiple negative psychological effects. Emphasising the importance of an integrated onboarding process. Having a reliable Employee Assistance Program (EAP) can also give your employees the support that they need during the pandemic.

Imagine how much more this applies to someone who hasn’t already established personal connections within the office, who needs that extra support and guidance. Your onboarding process needs to include ways for new hires to create those connections with management, co-workers and with other new hires.

This may seem like a difficult task, but it is far from impossible, especially with all of the online tools available today. As you start to create your vision of an onboarding process for employees who will be working from home, look at the content that you usually give your new hires–including company history, mission, vision and values–and then think about what you might have them DO with that information.

Instead of a quiz on the company’s mission, perhaps have the new recruits record a video of them explaining the mission as they would explain it to a friend or family. Get creative, and have them interacting with others and using the materials as they would use that information in real life.

However, onboarding is only part of the battle. For your existing workforce, you must get creative in how you’re offering these workers other training opportunities.

Remote Training for Existing Staff

The key to training existing talent for skills like leadership in a remote setting is to seek out virtual solutions that allow employees to maintain—if not improve—the impact and engagement from your original training program.

Given the need for time and ease, many companies are tempted to utilise video conferencing as their only training solution. If you are planning a short information-sharing session, a video conference might be a fine solution. But, most companies are looking for a rich learning experience to train employees on deeper, high impact skills that they were previously doing in onsite workshops.

In this case, they need a scalable, flexible online platform that incorporates virtual instructor-led workshops, self-study sessions with articles and videos, peer feedback, group projects, and mentoring and coaching, all designed to generate powerful learning and to scale culture and performance change. When done well, effective and engaging online learning will also enhance employee connections and a culture of togetherness in today’s environment, which can be very isolating.

Best Practices for Remote Training

Due to the new normal of remote work, many global enterprises are grappling with the transition to remote training. To maintain quality, companies should be selective in how they begin this process, meaning don’t move all of your training online at one time. Start small before going big, Then, develop a clear plan which includes identifying your team and clarifying learning objectives before identifying the appropriate technology solution and the desired content.

It’s helpful to develop a common framework and structure for moving training online. For example, migrating workshops completed in one day will have different components than a 8-week stress management or leadership program.

Lastly, HR and leaders should identify content that currently exists and that can be easily developed, and can be repurposed where possible to help train your existing workers.