Five Ways to Onboard New Employees During COVID-19

Friday, March 13th was an unusual day in the First Rate offices in Arlington, TX (between Dallas and Fort Worth). On that Friday morning we made the difficult but necessary decision to go with a 100% remote workforce for at least the next two weeks. This was prior to any of the states mandating “shelter-in-place” provisions and prior to the CDC recommending that groups cap gatherings at 500 people. This cap was subsequently lowered to 50 within days, and then down to 10 a few days later. Beginning March 16th, the entire First Rate office began working remotely.

We quickly realized that we could continue to onboard new clients and new employees during this time because we are able to access the same UAT environments and document repositories remotely.  Making progress on new client implementations is straightforward and not impacted by our location change.

New employee onboarding has been a bigger challenge, and at first we questioned whether we should put their training on hold. In the end, we agreed to give remote onboarding a try. We have had 3 team members start their First Rate careers since March 1st, and while some of their initial training and onboarding took place in the First Rate office, the majority of it in the short-term will be taking place remotely. We have been very pleased with our progress so far. Here are five things we have learned or observed:

  • Zoom meetings help build connections. While they do not replace the benefit of working together side by side, they have been very effective in “connecting” our senior level employees to our new hires.
  • Zoom meetings can be recorded! This gives us the ability to create actual training scenarios with the team, work through them together, and even record them for future consumption.
  • Microsoft TEAMS aids in collaboration. Tools such as TEAMS make document-sharing and knowledge-sharing simple and straightforward, which has been a tremendous help as well. My suspicion is that we will carry forward many of our new “habits” even when we return to the office and work together in a common location.
  • More structure is better. The distributed training environment led to a training plan that is more structured than what new hires are typically put through, and that has yielded positive results.
  • Document tribal knowledge. Because we have not been able to rely on oral traditions or tribal knowledge, we have had to consolidate training materials into libraries that are easily accessible for everyone.

Are you onboarding new team members remotely?  Share with us what you are learning!

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