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How do you on-board and welcome new teammates via a screen?

15 April 2020 <> Written by Jamie Hinton
Working Remotely

So we are in uncharted waters. In our social and professional lives, conventional norms have all but disappeared. Coronavirus has brought about a huge change to the day to day running of every business, and for those of us who are able to operate digitally, it poses new and interesting challenges - how do you recruit when you’ve never shaken hands with the talent?

As someone who has been lucky enough to welcome a new recruit in the past week, I had to somewhat reimagine the process of hiring & virtual onboarding.

Welcoming team mates virtually is obviously not a new process for some, but for many companies who now find working from home their new reality, it'll be a novel experience. It is undeniable that this will present some challenges: how do you welcome someone to your team without pressing the flesh? This new-norm presents a chance to be creative, to challenge and improve our current approach. It’s a great time to think about new techniques and methods of working and see the opportunity to do recruitment differently and better.

Beginning to recruit

Be specific: Now has never been a better time to find people, use this time to target specifically and be personal. Don’t be “all recruiter” in their faces. Be real and be specific. You probably don’t need 100’s of CV’s, just one - the right one will do.

Open conversation: Get talking. Sure it’s harder over the phone, but that’s OK you get a different perspective. We do this anyway as it removes some of the other inputs and it can go a long way.

The next step

Video calls: Video calls are the next step. In the current situation, you may actually find out a lot more about how they function and respond so take it as a positive. Remote working in many industries is a big thing so if you can’t even get this bit right with someone then the bigger picture of working together doesn’t stand a chance.

Remote tasks: Set tasks that someone can do remotely. Use digital collaboration tools to explore how they think and see if their style of working fits in with yours.

Virtual Onboarding

Mental Wellbeing: We all need people right now - it just so happens that those people will be on our screens. It's undeniable people will be struggling with the changes imposed upon us, and mental wellbeing needs to be a serious focus of the onboarding process. We’ve found a ‘Communal lunch’ on hangouts is a great way to keep up morale and stay connected, and will help a new starter get a feel for the team in a more casual way

Introductions: Ensure your new starter knows exactly who is who in the team and what their roles are, arrange virtual meetings with everyone across the business, so that they get to know their colleagues both personally and professionally and get a feel for what everyone does

Ice-breakers: Try new ways to engage your employees - do you normally have a Friday night social? Bring it online - give the new starter an authentic experience

Work buddy: Assign a ‘work buddy’ to ensure the new starter feels safe, has someone to ask questions to and be pointed in the right direction

Equipment: Organise a hangout call to go through equipment, setup, instant messenger, email, timesheeting system etc. It’s really important to find ways to get essential kit to your new recruit, which is hands down an act of trust and gets everyone on the right footing.

Planning: Create a clear and detailed plan for the first couple of weeks, so that the new starter has a routine to stick to - outline tasks for each day and set up calendar invites in their diary ready for them to make this crucial period easy to navigate

All of these may seem like obvious steps in the new-hire process, but we have found from experience that being able to physically introduce a new member to the team and clients is second-nature, and doing this virtually took a lot more forward planning.

The important thing to remember is that preparation is key to build that connection between new team members and the team. Try and think outside the box with the process, there is no norm to adhere to, so introducing someone to your company at this time may also bring about a bit of self-reflection; helping you portray the core of what you do in new digitally enhanced ways.

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