3 onboarding processes that are about to become a lot more common

Welcome to our new series where we explore the most important industries, trends, and topics related to your career from every angle. This month we are exploring remote onboarding in 2021.

Remote work has existed long before COVID-19 came around and made it the norm. This means that most “new” onboarding processes sneaking into the mainstream have actually been around for quite some time.

They just haven’t been widely utilized because the masses haven’t had a need for them until now. After all, who would’ve preferred lunch via GrubHub and Zoom when most workplaces had the option to hold in-person, in-office meals to bond with new hires?

Be they entirely new or simply increasingly commonplace, here’s a preview of the onboarding processes that are about to appear in many workforces.

The new-school inaugural goody bag 

One common practice from the ancient times of early 2020 and the years preceding it was the act of giving new hires a welcome package. Perhaps it’d contain a company-branded T-shirt, thermos, or earbuds. Whatever the items were, the HR idea behind them was always that a cute little bundle of goodies would help make a new hire feel welcome.

So now that said goody bags can’t be physically delivered from within an office, the new process that’s replacing them is mail-in onboarding gifts. Karyn Mullins, the President at medical and pharmaceutical sales job board MedReps, gave me some insights on how companies are facilitating this shift.

“Without the handshakes and meet and greets, companies are finding new, non-tech based ways to make that start into the onboarding process more personal,” Mullins said. “More and more brands are turning to sites like swag.com or Baudville to incorporate employee welcome packages as a critical step in their onboarding process.”

Efficient and effective virtual greetings

Back in the days of physical workplaces (which, technically, still exist), onboarding usually involved office tours, meals, and meet and greets with employees. Now, a new set of processes—a virtual equivalent of the old ones—has risen to the forefront. I reached out to Jenna Knudsen, Principal at CO Architects, to learn about what onboarding practices she’s seeing become commonplace.

“At CO Architects, every new candidate is scheduled for the following onboarding sessions on their first day: IT, HR, General Office, Intranet, and project,” Knudsen told me. “New hires also have lunch with their assigned office buddies, one to two peers who are resources and friendly faces.”

One important thing to note is Knudsen’s mention of assigned office buddies. A lot of popular onboarding advice indicates that having a mentor or knowledgeable coworker assigned to a new hire will benefit them greatly, so this element being referenced above is a prime example of how the best in-person onboarding processes are being translated to a remote environment.

“All new employees are introduced with a write-up on COnnect, our intranet site, and introduce themselves to the entire office at our bi-weekly Town Halls,” Knudsen continued. “This has created a more consistent onboarding experience, and the office meets new employees quicker virtually than they did when we were physically together.”

Efficiency and effectiveness are placed at a premium in the world of remote work. Seeing those traits, alongside friendliness and inclusivity, appearing in remote onboarding processes such as these ones has positive implications for the new normals in workplace onboarding.

The all-in-one training package

In the worldwide transition to remote work, not one onboarding process was bound to be streamlined as intensely as the day-one training experience. In non-remote work settings, such training processes could look like anything. Perhaps a new hire would spend weeks shadowing different employees in their natural habitats or be given a company training handbook so they could figure things out themselves.

Alternatively, an employee might be tasked with completing online training modules from their cubicle or have to constantly meet with their manager to learn new skills. The point is, onboarding in an on-site environment could (and still can) take a lot of different forms, depending on how a company saw fit to educate new hires.

For the sake of adaptability in remote environments, onboarding training has become a far more streamlined, easily deliverable process. Many companies have worked to create one-stop-shop training packages that include video tutorials, walkthroughs, greetings, and other key documents that single-handedly prepare a new hire for work.

Not only does this process provide employees with all the information they need in a format they can digest at their own pace, but it does so in a way that can be delivered via a single Google Drive or Dropbox link.

And given the ease of delivery, said training packages can be perfect for on-site hires as well. The distribution of all-in-one digital training packages is a flexible, effortlessly administered training solution for every kind of workplace, meaning it’s a new onboarding process that’s virtually guaranteed to become a lot more common.