Remote Onboarding – Yay or Nay?

Are you considering employing and managing a remote team? This blog highlights the benefits and drawbacks of remote onboarding for L&D (learning and development) and HR managers. Continue to read!

Published on Updated on May 26 2022

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Remote Onboarding - The Benefits and Challenges

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, remote models of operation, a previously frowned-upon concept, quickly became a reliable choice for thousands of businesses. After two years of the new normal, remote and hybrid models are here to stay. As a result, we need to encourage our organizations to switch to online recruitment and remote onboarding.

However, the accelerated shift towards these fundamental changes in remote workforce management has left most organizations scrambling, especially because we’re in the early days. Today, many startups, small businesses, and enterprise organizations find it intimidating to scale up while also balancing remote operations and infrastructure.

It becomes increasingly difficult to predict changes in corporate recruitment as organizations remain in transition between conducting operations at home and at office. Sure, on the surface, we can see companies reaping several benefits, such as saving on costs and time by conducting interviews via Zoom and Google Meet.

But what about the challenges?

Remote onboarding comes with several perks as well as many drawbacks. Which also means it may not be the best solution for everyone.

For instance, it disconnects employees from their peers and managers. Some employees report back that the remote work model has eroded their sense of belonging because they feel isolated and invisible working from home. However, a few employees cannot adapt to the organization’s culture due to a lack of human interaction and connection.

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In this post, we’ll discuss both the pros and the cons of remote onboarding so you can decide if it fits your business’ needs and capabilities.

Benefits of Remote Onboarding

Remote onboarding is the procedure of incorporating new employees into the workplace with the aid of digital solutions and technology. Through this process of integrating your new workforce into the organizational structure, they can quickly get familiar with their roles and responsibilities, as well as the company’s policies.

Here are some of the key benefits that remote onboarding offers to recruiters and businesses:

1. Strong Virtual Connections

Onboarding, at office, offers several benefits to employees, most notably, the ability to meet and communicate with teammates and colleagues formally and informally. However, employees also meet for prolonged conversations during coffee breaks as well as when they want to take time out in brick-and-mortar breakrooms. This way, recruiters ensure that, for the most part, employees communicate on work-related issues when working remotely.

Remote onboarding allows recruiters to control team communications and not leave relationships at work to chance. They use remote meetings and virtual events to monitor scheduled interactions, so no employee attending these meetings feels alone or uninformed.

Similarly, virtual connections vis-a-vis video calls or online chats encourages employees’ informal conversations. This form of engagement is an important aspect of workplace culture, as it allows employees to unwind, socialize, and engage in non-work-related activities.

2. Low Cost of Onboarding

An organization’s cost per employee depends on several expenses, such as advertising, in-person meetings and interviews, relocation, recruitment software, travel, accommodation, and corporate training, to name a few.

Remote onboarding reduces these costs. For instance, recruiters can minimize trainees’ travel expenses. They can replace instructor-led classroom training with eLearning or microlearning by hiring specialists to develop targeted courses for learners online. They can do away with the costs of classroom instructions and unforeseen routine disruptions by enabling learning at the employee’s own pace, from anywhere, and on any device.

3. Increased Productivity

According to Tech Republic, 65% of employees claim they would be much more productive while working remotely because of fewer distractions and time saved commuting. Thus, employers that want to onboard employees remotely can take advantage of this trend and smoothen the learning curve.

4. Improved Efficiency

The most important benefit of remote onboarding is enhancing organizational efficiency. Software solutions, like Avature Onboarding, Wrike, Monday.com, and Loop, aid in digitally managing the remote onboarding process. This way, it’s much faster and less repetitive for both recruiters and new employees. For instance, employees can minimize writing and typing the same information on multiple hands-on and digital formats using the copy-paste function.

5. Virtual Instructor-led Training

Remote work has paved the way for global L&D teams to adapt corporate eLearning courses into their training programs as an alternative to traditional classroom training. Recruiters now utilize different virtual or digital learning solutions, such as virtual instructor-led training (VILT), microlearning, and adaptive learning to speed up the remote onboarding and upskilling process for growth and development. VILT is a very effective and engaging style of training delivered using digital media. It encourages learning while also providing access, variety, and flexibility. It guarantees that learners receive instruction face-to-face while also allowing them to work from the comfort and safety of their own homes.

Challenges Associated with Remote Onboarding

If you’re intrigued by the benefits of remote onboarding and are ready to get on board, then you must also find out about a few challenges associated with this practice. This way, you can determine whether it’s a good fit for your company and devise a strategy to work around the drawbacks. So, let’s explore the obstacles associated with remote onboarding:

1. Reduced Accessibility

Unless teleportation becomes possible in the future, there isn’t an adequate substitute for human face-to-face communication with employees, especially those recently hired. There’s also no replacement for being able to walk over to a colleague’s workstation for updates, guidance, feedback, and questions.

However, with the digital technologies we have at our disposal, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, as well as synchronous communication tools like emails, message boards, and forums, recruiters can partially replicate the in-person learning environment.

2. Limited Engagement

Undoubtedly, remote onboarding offers many benefits. However, these advantages often come at the expense of learner engagement. Specifically in the new normal, now that offices are reopening and covid restrictions are coming to an end, things are gradually going back to the way they were. Plus, many employees have desperately waited for workplaces to open so they could return to the brick-and-mortar work environment where they thrived. Thus, choosing online hiring and remote onboarding processes could be counter-productive and challenging to maintain consistency in recruitment schedules and training programs.

3. Changing Time Zones

Asynchronous communication and coordination can be challenging, depending on your employees’ location and time zone. For example, picture a member of a globally dispersed team clocking into work while the other member is clocking out. The potential issues arising from this situation, such as lack of collaboration, delays, and conflicts, especially if both employees are working on similar projects or consequential tasks, can have a major impact on the organization.

With asynchronous learning, the instructor and learners need not connect in real-time. New employees can complete training at their own time and pace.

Of course, you can rectify issues with changing time zone using technology. For instance, you can employ email communication to plan tasks and projects. Similarly, you can use project management tools like Wrike to assign tasks and share updates to help you streamline your work with global teams.

4. Different Cultures

Another significant challenge associated with remote onboarding is dealing with cultural differences when working with teams in other countries and regions. Apart from coping with language barriers, recruiters must understand business expectations and cultural norms, and they need to adjust their communication and training style to match their employees’ cultures.

For instance, when Japanese employees conduct operations, they want to interact in person and communicate face-to-face. Whereas, in the US, employees require a certain amount of autonomy and breathing space when carrying out tasks.

L&D teams can work out cultural differences as they do for changing time zones. For instance, many companies use eLearning translation and localization to build trust with employees of diverse ethnicities and countries. With eLearning translation, corporate training material and courses can be accessed by employees across the globe so they can reach the required skills and improve their on-the-job performance.

5. Security Risks

The transition to remote work during the early days of the pandemic saw a surge in cybersecurity threats and attacks worldwide. Businesses had to cope with elevated security risks, from hacking to external security breaches and leaks, and, as a result, they shifted online to conduct operations.

Unfortunately, many companies don’t have the resources or technical know-how to upgrade their security infrastructure, making digital training, such as remote onboarding, incredibly risky. There are many solutions that can help mitigate these risks, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and password managers.

However, they might not be worth the investment, depending on the size and scale of the company. For instance, startups and small businesses don’t hire employees as frequently as their larger counterparts, so they could easily manage with traditional onboarding methods and avoid the digital route.

Parting Thoughts

So, there you have it. These are the benefits and drawbacks of remote onboarding. Now that you have read the blog, you can decide whether this practice is a “yay” or a “nay” for your business by assessing your resources, IT infrastructure, and schedules. Virtual onboarding can be lucrative for organizations that play their cards right and take advantage of the technologies available at their disposal.

While onboarding your remote team is difficult, training them using online courses is an additional, enormous task. Also, training new employees online and keeping them motivated throughout the course can be immensely challenging. Check out our free eBook on “Generating Motivation and Excitement in the Virtual Classroom” to discover more on how to keep your learners engaged and delighted in the virtual classroom. Grab your copy now!

Generating Motivation and Excitement in the Virtual Classroom
Remote Onboarding - The Benefits and Challenges
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