We have been working in our home offices for almost a year now. VSHN has not been deterred by this and has diligently recruited and trained new VSHNeers, all remotely instead of on-site. Of course, this brought new challenges, which many companies are struggling with. What is the recipe for success so that new team members can be successfully trained and integrated without ever having met a colleague? Our tips should help you to carry out a successful remote onboarding process.
Make sure your new team member has a work tool on the first day. We now send this directly to the new employee’s home, as there is no one in the office to receive the package. Allow some lead time for the delivery to be on time. The post office is still overloaded and sometimes a device is not immediately available. Since everyone has a personal hardware budget to choose their preferred work tool, it is a tradition at VSHN that everyone sets up their work tool themselves (if needed, you can get help of course) and sets it up so that they can work with it optimally. This can be done on the first day of work together with the mentor.
One of the highlights of home office: getting packages unexpectedly! We let our newest team members know that we are happy they are now part of VSHN with a nice welcome box. This consists of some company swag, some sweets, and a nice welcome greeting card.
Provide a mentor
The first day in a new job is exciting in itself for new VSHNeers. Whether we work remotely or in-person, at VSHN we assign an experienced VSHNeer as a mentor to each new colleague, providing them with advice, support, and other superpowers. In a remote setup, such a reference person is worth his or her weight in gold. Not only is the mentor a direct and emotional companion during the start-up process, but it also helps introducing other teams and the company culture – which, needless to say, is much more difficult to do remotely than in person. A mentor can best convey what the company stands for, what makes it tick, and what working here is like.
Meet every day!
Just 10 minutes is enough! The best time is right at the first coffee in the morning to plan the day and possibly again after lunch. Discuss how the new employee’s workload is, whether they know which topics they should work on today and where they might have difficulties.
Integrate into the team
Something you can’t underestimate remotely: it’s not so easy to make connections if you don’t know anyone yet. Whereas on-site you could just start talking to new people during breaks, remotely you have to actively add yourself to Zoom meetings to get to know your new colleagues. We support our new colleagues by having the mentor formally introduce them to the team and make sure they are invited to all the necessary meetings.
Plan workloads for the first few weeks
Structuring the probation period helps both sides to assess how the new employee is developing, and where they still need some help. We have solved this with weekly tickets so that the new VSHNeer has an overview of what work is still ahead of them. But don’t overload these weeks and leave enough time to get acquainted with other topics and ask questions. A 60/40 ratio has proven in practice to be a good proportion.
It is a sign of appreciation to keep your promises. Don’t postpone appointments until the last minute, take your appointments with team colleagues just as seriously as client meetings (this is not only valid for new hires!)
Proactively invite to company events!
If your company has a daily coffee together via video call, or a beer get-together in the evening, actively invite the new employee! The inhibition threshold to get to know your new colleagues remotely can sometimes be quite high for newcomers. Make it easy for them to get started and invite them to join.
We hope that these tips are helpful for you. How do you train your new teammates remotely? What has worked well, and what have you failed with?