In recent weeks more companies have started to hire and onboard new employees remotely. PageGroup is no exception.
We asked one of our managers in Switzerland, Luis Granato, for his thoughts about the virtual onboarding process he recently conducted with his newest team member, Sophie Dornbach.
Are you interested in advice around hiring and onboarding remotely? Download our free infographic on remote recruiting now.

What does remote onboarding process look like compared to conventional onboarding?

In a conventional onboarding set-up Sophie would share her day with the consultants around her, joining interviews face-to-face and learning a lot by observing our daily activities in the open space we have. Her manager would see how she is doing and be available for any questions.
In remote onboarding, however, being very organized and planning everything beforehand is key. Sophie is still joining interviews, but virtually. The other teams were encouraged to invite her to their appointments. 
For the social aspect of meeting and becoming part of the team we arranged virtual coffees and included Sophie in our groups (WhatsApp, Yammer, Microsoft Teams, etc.) on the first couple of days. She received welcome calls from me, HR and her Buddy, who supports her especially in the first weeks answering any questions she might has, explaining the ins and outs of the company and culture and making her feel welcome. Sophie on the other hand sent everyone a nice e-mail introducing herself. 
Regarding the technical set-up we use the same tools in the remote onboarding as in the conventional process, which is mainly Microsoft Teams. In the first step Sophie received the theoretical training from HR and our Boost platform. Boost is our own online training platform, which runs a one-month induction training for all our new consultants and other modules for specific programs and skills. Our talent development team is working constantly on new insightful content. Sophie continued her learning journey with shadowing sessions with clients and candidates from other consultants. 
Then she moved on contacting her own candidates and clients. After her first calls we reflected on how it went and clarified any doubts or questions.
Even though we implement these levels and are communicating continuously, as a manager I’m less in control in the remote onboarding. I need to give a lot more freedom to the consultant to get the job done and stablish clear targets.

Is remote onboarding and working good for the team spirit?

The short answer is: Yes. 
HR and my team did an outstanding job to prepare Sophie for her role. She was in constant contact with her team and the other employees from her office and has become part of the team very quickly. 
I like to see my team back in the office, but we will start step by step and on a voluntary basis. Remote working is here to stay, but I can see my team working partially from home and partially in the office. 
With the experience of the last months we also know now that we can conduct many interviews virtually. Face-to-face meetings are not as critical anymore as before. 

What feedback did you receive from Sophie regarding her onboarding experience at PageGroup?

Usually I like to organize my day with a high degree of flexibility. This is not possible in a virtual process. You need to be very strict with your agenda and the agenda of the new consultant. For this reason, we defined a clear structure from the beginning.
Sophie received a lot of invitations to join virtual coffees and interviews, which was overwhelming for her. I went through her calendar with her to prioritize meetings and appointments.
We came up with a clear plan with what is expected from Sophie during the first months. Sophie’s Buddy also had an important role by helping her with questions or doubts and supporting her in bonding with the team. 

Remote – is it the future of work?

I think working from the office is still going to be important, because we have a great team spirit and you can feel the energy in the room.
On the other hand, I see remote onboarding as a fantastic alternative to the conventional process. Virtual trainings are shorter and more interactive, which helped Sophie to learn quicker. The internal communication during the onboarding was great, too. 
Sophie could read news from our CEO on Yammer, hear interesting insights from other countries and get tips on how to work. 
Are you planning to onboard your new employees remotely? Get in touch with a member of our team here.
If you’d like to read about Sophie’s experience of her onboarding, click here