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Remote Onboarding: How To Successfully Onboard New Employees

Monday February 8, 2021

Remote Onboarding: How To Successfully Onboard New Employees

Monday February 8, 2021

Recently hired new employee working from home, sitting at a desk and greeting new colleagues by waving at them and smiling

Remote onboarding is a top challenge for leaders today. According to Harvard Business School, remote onboarding requires a different set of skills than onboarding in-person employees, almost doubling the effort required.

In response to this challenge, many leaders doubled down on structured, clinical learning curricula and prioritized technical onboarding. This involved equipping new employees with the skills required to complete their tasks, and helping them set and achieve performance goals.

This approach, while important, needs to be paired with social onboarding, which is the process by which new hires:

  • Learn team norms
  • Get to know colleagues
  • Gain psychological safety

This type of onboarding happens naturally in-person, but in remote work it requires deliberate planning.


Why Is Social Onboarding So Important?

Social onboarding is important for the following reasons:

1. It Builds Relationships

Relationship-building is critical in any team, but especially distributed teams. When teams operate in silos, they’re not as likely to feel connected to the company culture, or to other team members.

Conversely, when team members know each other better, it creates psychological safety, which is a prerequisite for trust and creativity.

Harvard Business Review (HBR) research revealed that facilitating opportunities for remote workers to engage in small talk helped prevent burnout and increased happiness. These benefits ultimately boost a company’s bottom line, as well as lowering attrition rates.

2. It Helps Employees Understand Team Norms

New employees can often feel like they’re intruding on existing team norms and rituals, unaware of how to incorporate themselves into the company culture.

They might have questions or concerns about the following:

  • How to ask questions about completing a project
  • How receptive leaders are to new ideas
  • What behaviors are considered acceptable and what’s considered rude

Social interactions can help newcomers understand acceptable behaviors and effective means of communication. If nothing else, it helps them become more comfortable interacting with employees who have integrated into the company culture, opening the door to ask questions about norms and processes.

3. It Promotes Authentic Self-Expression

HBR research showed that when new employees show their authentic selves shortly after being hired, they perform better—as does their employer.

That’s because it’s easier to share information, ask questions, and share new ideas, ultimately increasing productivity.

Social interactions help new employees become more authentic sooner, expediting this process.

How Teamraderie Can Facilitate Social Onboarding

Here are three examples of virtual Teamraderie experiences that leaders use for social onboarding:

  • Reset & Accelerate: Stanford’s Kathryn Segovia joins you live and leads your team through two science-backed exercises. Through “The Mistakes Game” and “The Similarity Hunt”, you and your new teammates will accelerate bonding in just 45 minutes.
  • Recognizing Strengths: This experience is a chance for each person to share something they have come to appreciate uniquely about their team and colleagues.
  • Empathy Matters: A powerful experience where a famous poet trains your team to self-express quickly through poetry. Participants discover more about themselves and deeply connect with their colleagues.

While remote onboarding can be difficult, there are many unique ways in which emerging leaders can approach this challenge. Through planning and exciting experiences, social onboarding can be done in a way that promotes connection, commitment and trust in your team.

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