How to onboard new starters in the COVID-era

remote work

COVID-19 has completely transformed the way we work. As the rapid spread of the virus forced the UK Government to impose a national lockdown on March 23 2020, businesses across the country were forced overnight to operate remotely. Indeed, many employees have not worked in a traditional office setting for almost one year.

In most cases, workforces have successfully acclimatized to this 'new normal'. Communication platforms such as Zoom and Slack have reigned supreme, ensuring that teams are able to communicate on a daily basis with little hindrance to their performance.

However, remote working can pose a challenge to companies looking to onboard new members of staff. Without the office setting, it can be exceptionally difficult to effectively welcome new starters into the workforce or offer adequate training.

This subject is a pressing matter, given that 6.1 percent of employed people in the UK moved jobs in the first half of 2020 alone. Consequently, many organizations have been forced to update their team integration and training processes.

Make your introductions early

One simple adjustment that companies can make is scheduling introductory meetings and video-calls with teammates and managers as soon as the perspective employee has accepted the job offer.

These meetings needn’t be a formal affair. At NerdWallet, for example, management teams booked virtual coffees and lunches in the diary prior to their start date. This was an effective way of helping our new started to build relationships with colleagues.

What’s more this offered new employees an opportunity to ask any burning questions about their role or the company in a more relaxed setting.

Conducting remote office "audits"

Next, it is vital to ensure that staff are equipped with everything they need to thrive in their new role.

After all, a recent poll from YouGov revealed that over two fifths (41 percent) of remote workers have an inadequate working environment. So, it would be wise to conduct a remote office "audit" to understand what equipment -- from office chairs to software and cyber security tools -- staff need to effectively fulfill their new role.

Introducing a remote working budget ensures that new and existing employees have adequate funds to cater to their individual needs.

Communication is key

In order to succeed, businesses must operate as a cohesive unit -- and communication is vital in achieving this.

For new members of staff, it is important to schedule regular team meetings and 1-to-1 catch ups with line managers. This will ensure that they fully understand what is required of them, and that they able to settle into their new team dynamic.

Employee wellness is more important than ever before

While recent studies reveal the majority (54 percent) even feel happier when working from home, others struggle with remote working.

Dealing with feelings of isolation can be difficult for new members of staff; so, management and HR teams should make devising a wellness strategy a matter of priority. From monthly team socials, regular 1-to-1one meetings, or even facilitating flexible working hours, could prove to be beneficial to the mental health of employees.

Ultimately, there is no reason why a virtual welcome can’t be a warm one. Indeed, through adequate planning and effectively utilizing the communication tools available, the majority of businesses will be able to successfully integrate new starters into their workforce.

Image credit: fizkes / Shutterstock

Nic Redfern is Finance Director for NerdWallet UK. NerdWallet is on a mission to provide clarity for all of life's financial decisions. As an independent financial comparison website, NerdWallet provides consumers and businesses with useful tools and insights so they can make smart money moves. For more information, visit

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