Employee Onboarding in a Remote Team
by Ryan Rinehart, Solutions Advisor
When I was hired on as a Solutions Advisor for Boomer Consulting, Inc. in April of this year, I knew the onboarding process would be different from any job I’d held in the past. Not only is the BCI team fully remote in normal times, but due to COVID-19, we weren’t sure when we’d be able to meet in person. That meant 100% of my training and onboarding had to occur virtually. Four months later, I can confidently say that the process went smoothly.
Here are some of the tools and processes our team used to make it effective.
My first few weeks at Boomer Consulting involved a lot of video conferencing. It’s one of the primary ways our team communicates, and I had to train with our business development team, meet my new coworkers, and learn about the company, its culture and services.
Being able to share screens during these meetings was really valuable. My trainer could open an application, share their screen and demonstrate exactly how to use the features I needed. Then I could share my screen while they watched me perform the same actions.
In fact, I found it even more comfortable than training in person and having someone hovering over my shoulder while working.
Anyone who’s started a new job is familiar with the mountain of paperwork that needs to be reviewed and signed: W-4 and I-9 forms, state tax withholding forms, direct deposit forms and more.
Our Financial and Accounting Coordinator, Jenna Blackwood, used PandaDoc to send all of the necessary forms to me and collect signatures. It’s more secure than email and easier than mailing a packet of paperwork to someone to sign and send back.
Document management system
We use Box as our document management system, and that’s where I could find any other PowerPoints, handbooks and other documents I needed for training and onboarding. Putting it all in one place that’s easily accessible for the whole team helps ensure we have the most recent version available. It’s also helpful for preventing our email inboxes from becoming document storage.
It’s helpful to have those things in the document management system. To this day, I often refer to the information we covered if I have any questions or need a refresher.
Open door policies
Most people have had the experience of starting a new job and discovering that their bosses or managers aren’t accessible. At Boomer Consulting, the “open door policy” isn’t just on paper – it’s a reality at all levels of the company. Everyone we work with is easy and approachable, and welcomes hopping on a call to answer a question or listen to ideas.
So how do we have an open-door policy when nobody has an actual office door? First off, during onboarding and training, everyone encourages the new employee to reach out and ask questions. Next, we have weekly team meetings, one-on-ones with our managers, and meetings with a “buddy” where we’re encouraged to bring up issues, ask questions and build camaraderie. Finally, we use the status features in Google and Zoom to show when we’re available for a quick chat without scheduling a meeting on the calendar.
Virtual “happy hours”
Culture is an essential part of any organization, but it can be a challenge to maintain culture in a remote workplace. One of the ways we promote culture at Boomer Consulting is by holding virtual “happy hours.” This might be a morning get together over coffee or an after-hours meetup with your beverage of choice, but the number one rule is we don’t talk about work. Instead, we might talk about what we’re watching on TV or weekend plans – anything that helps people get to know each other outside of work.
These meetings aren’t mandatory, so if we have something more pressing to work on, there’s no obligation to be on the conference call. However, they’re one of the ways I’ve gotten to know my coworkers well, even if we’ve never been in the same room.
Tech set up
One issue firms face when hiring remote employees is deciding what equipment the company will provide versus what the employee is expected to provide. At Boomer Consulting, the basic rule is the company provides everything that sits on top of the desk: laptop, speakers, monitors, keyboard, mouse, headset, etc.
Our Technology Business Analyst, Chris Rochford, had everything shipped to me, but his involvement didn’t end there. Chris knew when each piece of equipment was being delivered and scheduled a meeting shortly thereafter to help me get set up. This extra effort ensured I had everything I needed to get started successfully on Day 1.
Welcoming new employees in person makes it easy to answer questions, introduce them to team members, and get a sense of company culture. Handing this process remotely provides unique challenges (and opportunities). Still, by making an effort to offer a great virtual onboarding experience, you can help people adjust to their new roles easily.
As a Solutions Advisor for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Ryan Rinehart is committed to building relationships with clients and helping them reach their goals as a firm. His primary focus is on Communities, Consulting and Training services.
Before joining Boomer Consulting, Inc., Ryan worked in corporate sales for Payless ShoeSource and as the Sales Team Lead for LBM in Topeka, Kansas.