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Remote onboarding: getting new sales staff up to speed

In the digital age, remote onboarding has become of significant importance to teams worldwide. While human interaction and face-to-face meetings used to be integral when showing someone the ropes, onboarding can now be completed remotely. 

But what exactly is remote onboarding? What are some of the challenges of bringing someone up to speed without face-to-face meetings? And how can you build a good team ethic remotely? 

We answer these questions and more below as we show you how to get your new sales employees up to speed without the need for face-to-face communication.

What is remote onboarding? 

Remote onboarding involves all the traditional steps associated with preparing employees for working with your company but is aided by various digital tools. In other words, there’s no need for face-to-face communication. Onboarding is a crucial part of the recruitment process and ensures your employees can work to their full potential. 

Thanks to the broad range of digital tools at your disposal - CRMs, video conferencing, direct messaging apps, etc. - you can onboard new employees from practically anywhere, allowing you to increase the scope of your prospective talent pool and attract the best candidates for the role in question.

The importance of getting the onboarding process right 

Glassdoor statistics (The True Costs of a Bad Hire, Laurano, 2015) show that effective onboarding can improve employee retention by 82% while increasing productivity by 70%. Ultimately, suppose a new hire doesn’t feel at ease and empowered throughout the onboarding process. In that case, it will affect their performance and the time they spend with your company. 

When a new employee is working remotely, onboarding is even more critical. After all, they can quickly feel isolated and detached from the company when working from home, particularly if you don’t integrate them into the team effectively from the very start. 

Three unique challenges associated with remote onboarding 

Onboarding employees is tricky, no matter how you go about it. However, there are some challenges unique to remote onboarding, including: 

  • Unfamiliarity with new systems & processes: To succeed in a remote working environment, your employees need to be fully integrated into all systems and processes that facilitate the arrangement. Given how many new tools and systems a new hire is introduced to at the same time, it can be overwhelming and difficult for them to become efficient and familiar with their new working environment.

  • Introduction to teams: When you onboard a new hire in person, you will probably take them on an office tour, introducing them to all the teams and showing them the ropes. It’s much more challenging to manage this process remotely. As such, new employees might not fully understand the connection between each of the teams and their position within your company. 
  • Feelings of isolation: While the whole world is getting used to remote working, new hires can feel particularly isolated if the entire onboarding process occurs online. Human interaction has traditionally played a big part in the onboarding process, and no amount of tech can replicate the act of welcoming a new employee to the office. 

Additionally, you’re faced with all of the traditional challenges relating to onboarding. It might be deciding what to teach and what your new hire can learn on the job, allocating a buddy and mentor to a new hire, and ensuring your new staff member is guided efficiently through their first weeks and even months on the job.

We’ve put together a post on devising an induction programme to help you tick all the relevant boxes and seamlessly integrate any new hire into your team, whether you complete the onboarding process in person or remotely. 

How to build a good team ethic remotely 

Each of the three unique challenges associated with remote onboarding is exacerbated because it’s much more challenging to build a good team ethic remotely. While conventional team-building exercises have focused on get-togethers and outings, remote team building requires more imagination. 

To ensure the remote onboarding process runs as smoothly as possible, here are some remote team-building exercises you can try: 

  • Schedule regular check-ins and meetings: During and immediately after the onboarding process, it can be easy to fall into thinking that your new hire is now ready to crack on with their work and your job is done. But in reality, you need to regularly check in with them to monitor their progress and offer support. One of the most important things about building an excellent remote team ethic is showing everyone that they’re valued and supported, so don’t overlook this after completing the onboarding process.

  • Set up virtual break rooms: Now that remote working is here to stay, research has found that employees miss socialising with colleagues and office banter more than anything else. One way to ensure your employees can maintain their relationships is to create virtual breakout rooms. This allows your team to let off steam throughout the day and provides new recruits with an opportunity to get involved in the social dynamics of the office. 
  • Host virtual company events: Arranging key-note speakers and other events are vital for building the company culture. Therefore, don’t stop planning these events because you can’t do it in person. Virtual events enable you to attract guests from further afield and add excitement to a scheduled event. They also allow your new recruits to get a feel for your company’s culture. 
  • Arrange face-to-face meetings: At the height of the pandemic, face-to-face meetings were out of the question. However, now that life is back to normality, consider inviting your team to meet in person for work or purely a social get-together. Your team might do lunch or dinner once a month, or you may schedule a bi-weekly in-person team meeting to go over some important points. Few things are as effective at binding a remote team as occasional face-to-face meetings, so be sure to schedule some in the diary. 

 

When you’re onboarding a new hire remotely, the critical thing to remember is that you need to help them integrate into your team. The last thing you want is for your new recruits to feel isolated and left out, as it will affect their productivity and cause them to look elsewhere for a new opportunity.

Final thoughts 

While onboarding new hires remotely isn’t easy, it’s far from impossible. Just be mindful of the unique challenges that remote onboarding presents and ensure you offer support and guidance to your new recruits throughout the entire process. 

Sure, you will encounter snags along the way, but remote onboarding is an excellent way to integrate new talent into your team and is so vital in the digital age and post-pandemic world that we now live in.

About the author

Darren Dewrance

Darren spent six years in sales and field sales before joining the original sales recruitment specialist, Austin Benn, in 1998. After achieving the status of top consultant, out of about seventy at the time, Darren rose from Senior Consultant to Operations Manager of the commercial sector before leaving to join a London based Headhunter in 2003 before setting up Aaron Wallis with Rob in October 2007.

With a natural leadership style, Darren is an expert on putting his finger right on the heart of the problem. His natural commercial instincts have helped hundreds of employers make better recruitment decisions. Darren is married with two children, and when not at work or with his family, he likes nothing more than to be on the side of a river or a lake with a rod in his hand.

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