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Return to In-Person Onboarding Without Returning to Mountains of Paperwork

Disorganized documents. Ad hoc training. And so… much… paperwork. That’s what onboarding too often looked like in the “before times” — and why a 2018 study by Nintex found onboarding to be one of the most broken corporate processes.

Remote work over the last year has pushed many businesses to revise their onboarding plans and to move much of the process online, cutting down on wasted time and virtually eliminating paperwork (pun intended).

Now, as employees start to return to in-person work, there’s no reason for organizations to return to the old ways of onboarding. In fact, there’s a lot they can learn from the past year.

Businesses gained a lot from remote onboarding. Here’s how they can use it to optimize the new hire process once employees are back in the office.

What organizations have learned about onboarding in a remote-work environment. The flexibility of remote working has, in some cases, proven to be a very viable option now for companies. But how can organizations successfully onboard new employees remotely? It’s completely normal now for companies to hire people without ever seeing these new employees face-to-face. Communication is and always has been key in getting employees onboarded. It’s not only key for learning the new systems and technology, but more importantly getting to know their new colleagues and collaborate with their team right away.

Companies need to be agile in their onboarding methodology. What might work really well for one person, may not work for another. It’s important to have an onboarding plan with a schedule that new employees can easily follow to help learn the intricacies of their role, the technology, and the team.

At the same time, if something isn’t working as well, then adjust and tackle it with a new approach. Some employees learn by watching someone else do the job, which can be difficult in a remote working environment. Companies have learnt to adjust and be patient. The results pay for themselves: when you have happy employees who at the end of the day — even if they are states apart — still feel like they are valuable and are part of a team.

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Best practices businesses can take back to the office. The new onboarding plans don’t necessarily have to only be for remote workers. The same methodologies and patience can be used with employees working back in the office, when the office opens up.

How to avoid paper processes for new hires. If the last 18 months have shown us anything, it is that remote working can work. It also means that all the paperwork that was done previously isn’t necessary and this has pushed companies to digitally transform. Forms have now moved online. Manual processes have now been automated. But even more important, is that companies had to take an inventory of processes and how they were performing. You can’t successfully automate a process if you don’t know what that process is. Collaborating and understanding the process across different business units allowed companies to map out their processes, and then successfully automate them.

When it comes to onboarding new hires, they can complete a digital form that, when submitted, causes an automated process to start. That process can request approvals, before accounts are created, permissions are granted, and even equipment is ordered. A lot of this was manual before, but now, companies were forced to improve those processes.

As more and more organizations move forward with a hybrid work environment what considerations do they need to keep in mind for onboarding?

It will all come down to communication. As companies reopen their offices and they have at times, part of their work force in the office, it will be very easy to go back to the way it was before. Teams are siloed and communication is declining for those not working in the office. Now that we have more remote workers, it will be vital to make sure we continue to communicate with them and that they feel part of the team. With the job market being quite hot, especially in the tech space, it’s not hard for people who are unhappy with the new working environment to find something else.

Technologies that can be used to streamline digital onboarding:

  • Video conferencing software – to continue the communication within teams and with cross-functional teams.
  • Learning centers – remote workers to have a location to go to with learning modules on how to do their work and what the company does.
  • Process documentation centers – so that all employees, whether in the office or remote, can look up what a process is and how they can initiate it or what its requirements are.

MORE: How remote work led to reshaping the back office

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