Uncertainty is rife in the workplace right now. With the onset of the social isolation policy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home has become the norm in many sectors. 
 
So how do you repurpose your on-boarding strategy to engage, prepare and train your new starters under these unique conditions? How do you create a sense of community, when many new colleagues might not meet a single new work colleague face-to-face for many months? 
 
Review your processes 
 
Review your on-boarding processes and try to identify those activities that currently rely on face-to-face interactions, from welcome drinks and induction days, to systems training. Then plan how you can best achieve them remotely, through everything from online training videos to webinars. Alongside this, ensure you’re gathering the right data on your new starters, from what tech they have at home, to an individual’s particular vulnerabilities in relation to COVID-19. 
 
Get the technology you need 
 
From the laptops and phones your new remote workers will require, to the software systems that will help deliver more efficient remote working, technology is key. Involving your IT and procurement department in these discussions as early as possible will be vital. Work with your HR department to ensure everyone is clear around the number of new colleagues due to start over the next 3 months. 
 
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate 
 
Communicating regularly with people due to start in the next few months will instil confidence and prevent new colleagues feeling concerned.This could include: 
 
· An initial ‘holding’ comms piece explaining that you’re putting in place a new on-boarding strategy in light of COVID-19, and will be in touch regularly with all the information needed. 
 
· Specific information for each person (for example around whether their employment date will be delayed, whether they will now be working from home or how their probation period might be affected). 
 
· Information on how your organisation is responding to COVID-19 both in terms of how you are looking to protect and support your workforce, and how you will be minimising the damage to your business because of the crisis. 
 
· News about any work you are doing to help fight the pandemic, or any good news stories from around the organisation should help maintain engagement and emotional connection of new colleagues to your organisation. 
 
· Weekly Q&A sessions for all new starters via an online channel to allow them to ask general questions. 
Virtual teams (and virtual drinks) 
 
How do you build a team when people can’t meet face-to-face? 
 
· Line Managers need to be more accessible than ever to a new team member. Create a Line Manager’s checklist complete with guidance so they understand their new role in light of COVID-19. 
 
· Run a meet and greet video call or group chat to introduce your new starter to the team. 
 
· Organise virtual team drinks, where everyone joins an online meeting at the end of a Friday afternoon, for a chat and some team building activities- even have a few drinks. 
 
Remote working training and information 
 
Try to think of everything you would cover in a normal on-boarding process and induction. Do you need to create some videos or e-learning to help colleagues get up to speed with systems and processes; can you create team biographies that give new starters some background on who their colleagues are and what they do? Providing this type of information can make new colleagues working remotely feel less remote. 
 
Above all, keep communicating with your new starters in every way you can. By giving your new colleague the tools they need to communicate, learn and support each other, you’ll help them assimilate quickly to the ways of working and the culture of your organisation. 
 
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