The technology you need in 2021 for the best remote onboarding processes

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.

In recent years, technology’s played an increasingly important role in hiring and onboarding new employees. And now, with a COVID-riddled world prioritizing remote work, many companies and employers are looking at the latest tech as the end-all and be-all of onboarding procedures.

In a remote world, the software used for a company’s inner workings is more or less its lifeblood, so such dependence is understandable. This leads to a question: If your company needs to be dependent on onboarding technologies to get new hires primed and ready to go, then which technologies should you choose?

Such a question is tricky to answer since every technology is going to have different utilities and advantages. Furthermore, if you’re looking for truly new technologies, remember: the pool of software options for remote onboarding is already dominated by major corporations—small companies fighting for space in the field might have the “newest” technology by virtue of being able to independently innovate, but they’re going to have an extremely hard time keeping up with established giants’ offerings.

As a result, your company is probably best served by using the newest technologies found in widely used services that receive constant updates.

Technology for setting up your new employee

I spoke with Sean O’Connell, an IT Applications Specialist at Complete Discovery Source, to hear his thoughts regarding beneficial onboarding technology, based on his technical background and experience with onboarding processes.

“I have seen a rise in software like Workday, Paychex, and Paycom being used to help with getting new hires set up with all of their new hire forms and their pay information,” O’Connell said, in response to a question of mine regarding which technologies were making waves in current onboarding processes. “Workday especially has been used to help train new hires with interactive videos and activities.”

When asked about the current difficulties of onboarding in a remote environment, O’Connell reiterated the importance of an effective setup. 

“The hardest part is getting all the accounts, software, and equipment set up remotely,” he said. “I work in my organization’s IT department. Any IT can tell you, supporting users remotely is always a bigger challenge than being able to be hands-on in person.”

So it goes without saying—if Workday, Paychex, and Paycom can make that part of the job easier, they’re definitely technologies to keep in mind.

Technology for communication

If you’re going to onboard new employees remotely, you’re going to need to communicate with them and ensure that they’re able to talk to you whenever necessary. They won’t have the luxury of tapping you on the shoulder in-office, so good communication technology is the next best thing.

For this sector, there are three standouts: Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom. For a while, Zoom was leaps and bounds ahead of Microsoft Teams in the video conferencing department, but Teams has upped its game with recent features such as Dynamic View and Virtual Breakout Rooms, making itself a more competitive offering. Zoom is arguably more versatile and still the leader in a lot of ways, but Teams is closing the gap with new technology updates.

As for general messaging purposes, for companies that aren’t in need of Microsoft 365 integration (in which case, Teams would be ideal), Slack does the job just fine. It’s also great if there’s a need to invite guests or folks from other organizations into shared communication channels.

For example, businesses that want to onboard independent contractors can use Slack to keep them in the loop without having to integrate said contractors into other internal systems typically reserved for employees.

Technology for sharing and storing content

Some of the aforementioned technologies listed above are perfectly capable of acting as content sharing platforms. Still, platforms built with content dispersal as their primary intention do carry some special benefits, be it in terms of the size of files you can upload or unique methods of distribution.

Services that are ideal for sharing content include Google’s suite of applications, among them the ubiquitous Google Drive. It’s perfect for sharing everything from written documents to large video files, so bundling onboarding packages that include welcome videos, orientation instructions, and essential forms is easy.

Dropbox can fill Google Drive’s position as well, though it lacks the versatility that Drive enjoys as a result of being integrated into the large umbrella of a zillion other useful Google products.

There is also Loom for video sharing purposes if you want a service that’s newer, snappier, and potentially more efficient than Drive or Dropbox. It’s built for quick and easy video recording and sharing, which means it’s a good fit for tutorials and onboarding walkthroughs that don’t require the full Drive or Dropbox treatment.