More and more companies are hiring workers that they’ve never vetted in person before. That’s been made possible by tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Whereby, Loom, and many other types of video software.
But did you know that the entire process can be managed online without the workers ever having to go to the main office? Even when it comes to signing legal documents, making deals, conducting interviews, all of it can be done fully remotely.
There are many strategies that can be used to successfully onboard new remote employees, and this article will highlight them, including testimonials from employees who’ve gone through this process themselves. This will show you that the future of work is changing because there are other effective strategies that can be used to redefine the way we approach employee onboarding.
How does remote onboarding actually work?
There are many different ways to approach remote onboarding, but the one that stood out to me the most was the one used by the Pearl Lemon Group. The company has a placement program that welcomes thousands of applicants each year and has a workforce of 50+ full-time remote employees spread across the globe.
Their framework is interesting to analyze here because they’ve been able to have their main operations in London, while onboarding workers in the United States, India, Germany, and other parts of the world with great ease. Here are some of the main strategies this company uses to onboard remote employees that other companies could incorporate into their own policies.
Aside from the usual forms that people fill in when they apply for a job, once they have been accepted to the next stage of the application process, they are given a more in-depth form to fill in.
This online form gives applicants an opportunity to do the following:
With this, the HR rep can have a deeper understanding of the individual applicants instead of just looking at a resume. The video requirement allows the team to put a face to the name and get a glimpse of their personality before continuing with the application.
This is all done in one online form that is then submitted to the HR rep who makes a decision based on all of the above. With this, there’s no need for the candidate to go to the main office and go through multiple rounds of interviews because the video recording can be viewed by the different managers in the company to see for themselves what the candidate is like.
This not only saves time but also eliminates the anxiety that applicants have to go through when they have multiple rounds of interviews to endure.
One way that companies can incorporate this within their recruitment strategies is by asking the main interview questions in these forms and having the applicants record video responses. That way, the questions are answered, you have a recording of the applicant expressing themselves, and the videos can be viewed by other members of the leadership team.
Once the applicant has impressed the team, they are invited to join a WhatsApp or Slack group chat where they get to interact with the head of the department they want to work in and the HR rep. Here, they get to discuss the first task assignment that they have to complete within the first “trial week.”
With this strategy, the applicant is able to demonstrate their abilities and show the company whether or not they can actually do their job. They are given a task via email, and the head of their department also records a video to further explain what the task looks like and how things should be handled.
After they’ve met the agreed-upon deadline, the head of the department can set up a virtual meeting to give them feedback on their work, or simply record a feedback video using tools like Vidyard or Loom. These tools let you share your screen at the same time as you record yourself so that you can “show not tell” and it’s a great tool for virtual communication.
Throughout this “trial week” the candidate, HR rep, and head of the department have all interacted with each other and have a better understanding of whether or not they’ll be able to work together.
This process has been used at Pearl Lemon Group for the past 5 years and has helped them build a strong placement program and international team of talented individuals.
Remote onboarding: the employee perspective
Now that you understand how remote onboarding works, it would be good for you to also hear from employees who went through this kind of experience to better understand what it’s like from their perspective.
Kemi Olaoshun is based in Germany and she went through the remote onboarding process for a Content Writer position at Pearl Lemon Group. When she was asked about how the onboarding process made her feel, she stated, “I would say it was really smooth. I was really satisfied with the whole onboarding process and digital application process because that’s how it should be. The process was smooth and consistent.”
Simeon Lakuch is based in Uganda and he also went through a remote onboarding process for a PR Specialist position at Pearl Lemon PR. He described his experience this way, he states, “At first, I was hesitant because I was nervous my application was going to get lost in a sea of other applications without being able to speak for myself. But I realized I prefer remote onboarding because it’s quicker and I can go through the whole process from the comfort of wherever I am which makes me feel like I’m on top of things.”
Remote onboarding: the HR perspective
The Human Resource department has had to shift its gears since the pandemic started, and it’s interesting to see the changes being made to make the onboarding process less reliant on in-person interactions.
Akhila Nagabandi, the Head of HR at Pearl Lemon Group states, “The remote onboarding process is manageable because we have our own template for the onboarding process. We also use pre-recorded training videos for new interns and employees that make it easy for them to learn more about the role. Over time, we were able to create a standard step-by-step process that is well-structured and easy to follow.”
When there’s a clear set of systems already pre-determined, then it makes it easy for HR reps to manage and it makes the process run more smoothly.
The future of onboarding is not in-person
By now you can see that it’s possible for remote onboarding to be done effectively for a company. The future of work is drastically changing and it’s important that companies have the flexibility to offer their applicants remote onboarding options.
There are many different strategies that can be used to vet applicants before hiring them, and being in-person is not a prerequisite. Use the arsenal of online tools available that have been designed to make remote work easier, and more effective.
With the dramatic changes in the economy and in the workplace, it looks like remote onboarding is the future of work.
Pearl M. Kasirye is the Head of PR at Pearl Lemon PR, she is also a writer and researcher.