How to onboard remote employees

How toonboard remote employees

Table of contents

By 2025 70% of all employees will be working remotely on at least a part-time basis. This isn’t news and while social factors may accelerate adoption it’s been a growing trend since 2008. Some of the biggest organisations in the world including banks and retail giants like Amazon are shifting towards remote working. It’s easy to understand why because the shift to the secure cloud and high-speed internet has made remote working easier. Not least because much of it is free, or a nominal cost to the average business making it more accessible. Coupled with a changing attitude from employers towards their employees, with trust and company culture becoming a growing priority, the change was inevitable. But there are also clear advantages: lower overheads for business, including cheaper rent on smaller offices. And a better work-life balance for employees. But it does present a challenge in terms of onboarding. Traditional methods simply don’t apply when your new hire is potentially hundreds or even thousands of miles away. In short, businesses need to find a scalable way to onboard remote employees.

Technology to help onboard new remote employees

Much has been written about the ideal tech stack to facilitate home working.  We don’t intend to wade into the Zoom versus Teams debate here! Instead, we want to look at the tools and services that can help you onboard a new team member. 

Digital experiences 

People learn through experiences. That’s why the traditional way to train an employee was to have them shadow one of your best team members.  Mimicking this onboarding experience at a distance can be difficult to replicate. 

Digital experiences are solutions that leverage your existing IT capabilities to deliver immersive, or structured content that helps people navigate a complex process. ‘Some companies are even using games to deliver engaging experiences for new hires or to create immersive tests that let them experience real-life work scenarios in a digitised format.’ Digital experiences, much like modern marketing, are about creating campaigns or exciting new ways to engage audiences in ways that allow them to experiment with what it’s like at your organisation before jumping in.  This ensures they consume and absorb (and employ) the information they need to succeed in their new role. In short, good training is about changing behaviour. 

Digital experiences alone aren’t enough

However, even the best technology isn’t always enough to render the best results when you’re dealing with human beings. 

The early American Science Fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein famously wrote; “Human beings aren’t rational animals; we’re rationalising animals who want to appear reasonable to ourselves”. 

Poor digital experiences assume that human beings are rational and approach content in a rational and methodical way. Instead, human beings approach training with the best intentions but the innate ability to rationalise not really doing the work and the limitations of how our brains work and process information, mean that we often don’t absorb information as we should. That’s why digital experiences alone won’t solve your onboarding challenges. 

To design successful digital experiences you need to understand how humans think, process and understand the world around them. So we turned to academia, in particular the behavioural sciences. Behavioural science seeks to understand how human beings behave and react to stimuli.  

Behavioural sciences seek to understand not only how human beings behave and why, but what influences human decision making and absorption of information. 

The research from these two academic pursuits can be harnessed to design digital experiences crafted with the human user in mind. Subtle changes to a digital experience can facilitate better learning, absorption and even recall of information.  In short, these changes can help people to do the things and jobs you need them to do.

Custom digital experiences are the gold standard

Digital experiences seek to create an immersive training experience to solve business problems.  

Behavioural science research adds empathy and the understanding of how people work in specific circumstances. However, there is still one major challenge for businesses.

When we talk about onboarding employees, the training isn’t just HR content and how to comply with the companies’ rules. Training needs to go much further. It’s about supporting a culture, or a change in behaviour, or helping people become a contributing part of the organisation.

These challenges are particularly important when you are onboarding customer-facing teams. Your new employees need to understand how your product works, how you sell it, what might go wrong and how to support the customer best. 

That’s why custom digital experiences are so important. Some companies will try to sell “off the shelf” solutions but these won’t work for 90% of companies.

This is because most businesses are selling innovative solutions, have complex organisational setups, or face a strict regulatory burden. Therefore they need a digital experience that serves the needs of their business, not the needs of an industry that might not be compatible with theirs.

Behavioural Science inspired custom digital experiences

This unique mix of technology, design, and expertise offers a solution perfectly attuned to the needs of businesses looking to onboard remote employees. Hopefully, the COVID pandemic is beginning to wind down, but even when we no longer need to worry about COVID, the challenge of onboarding at a distance will remain. 

At BAD we help customers every day with custom digital experiences to onboard customer-facing teams. We’d love to speak with you about your onboarding challenges.   

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