How to onboard effectively during today’s new way of working

Posted on 18/08/2021 by Julie Rodrigues

With the new hybrid way of working, the onboarding process has had to change too. How do you make newcomers feel integrated and welcome remotely?

We used to have a pretty robust onboarding process prior to Covid.19. The training was mapped out from day one.  A nice welcome pack would be waiting packaged up on their desk for their first morning.  We would go out and have a team lunch to get to know each other and we had a buddy system in place.  We would arrange for face to face catch ups and the whole team would be on hand if you had any questions.

Like many businesses when Covid hit last year and we all suddenly found ourselves working remotely and amongst other things, our onboarding process took a hit.  With our minds elsewhere we let the process go and this unfortunately made a less than perfect onboarding experience for our new starters who joined during this period.

In a company retro, it came to light that our onboarding process had fallen below expectations and we decided we needed to resolve this quick to ensure our new starters got the onboarding experience they deserved and the time to train built into their first few weeks.


Here is what we did to gain some feedback and insights:

  • We asked for honest feedback from those who had recently started on our current process and how it could be improved.
  • We asked our Heads of Departments what an ideal onboarding process would look like in their teams
  • We made a comparison with what we were currently doing and pinpointed where the gaps were and the areas in which we could improve

Once we had a final process we were happy with we published it company-wide so everyone was familiar with it.  The various elements of the onboarding process were also tied into our HR system which ensured that tasks were delegated to relevant people.

What does a good onboarding process look like?

For us, it is important that new starters have enough time built into their first few weeks to fully complete their onboarding.  We learnt during the feedback that some people had no real time to onboard and just got straight into work. This is not ideal although an easy trap to fall into when your department is busy.

Some ideas which have helped improve our onboarding include:

Giving new starters access to the onboarding process

Giving new starters access to the onboarding system prior to their start date means they can start to familiarise themselves with what is expected and start completing some of their tasks if they have time. It also helps them get to grips with systems before they start.

First day virtual/in-person breakfast with manager

A great way for the manager to meet and greet their new starter on their first day. If you are working remotely why not send a small breakfast hamper to you both so you can have breakfast remotely.  If you are in the office why not take them to your favourite place for breakfast.

Assigning a mentor/buddy

Assigning a buddy or mentor for them to have lunch dates with and have someone to directly talk to during their first few months can be valuable especially for remote workers.  It can help people settle in easier if they have someone who they can reach out to if they have questions or even just to have a chat with someone familiar.

Meet their new team

Meeting their new team either remotely or coming together if possible to meet face to face in the office is a great way to help them feel more comfortable and part of the team as well as build bonds with those who they will be working closely with.

Asking for their set up requirements 

If they are working remotely, do they have all the equipment they need? Do they need any specialist equipment?  Will they want to come into the office? Are they fully working from home? 

We feel it is important to treat remote workers the same as those who come into the office. This means providing desks and chairs if needed.  You wouldn’t expect someone to work in the office without those so why would you expect them to work from home without them?

Send out welcome packs

Welcome packs can be a fun and lovely surprise to new starters and a great way to receive some on-brand items to help them on their new journey with you. Who doesn’t like to receive some SWAG!

Create a set training schedule  

This is something that has gone down really well with some of our newest members of Team Hallam.  Having a training schedule set up ready in their google calendars can be really helpful to ensure that they have time carved out for them to complete their onboarding in their first few weeks.  It can also be helpful to book in time for them to speak to the key business stakeholders where they can learn more about how you work and the history behind your business

Regular 121’s

A valuable bit of feedback we received was how isolating it can be for new starters joining remotely.  With this in mind, we have ensured that we work in more regular 121’s and daily catch up’s during their initial onboarding period.  This gives an opportunity for them to ask you questions and for you to ask them how they are getting on and ensure they are not feeling too overwhelmed.

Final thoughts

With employers shifting more towards the wellbeing of their employees, this could be a chance for you to audit your own onboarding process. It is easy to forget how we used to work pre-Covid-19 and it’s often easy for processes to slip.  Why not ask your newest recruits for some feedback, you might be surprised by the response you get.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for advice or any questions.

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