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How to onboard remote interns so they feel part of the team

January 14, 2021

If you’re lucky enough to be thinking about hiring in the current climate, you should consider adapting your onboarding process. Your new hire’s first day is crucial so let’s make sure you set them up for success.
This article originated from the Xero blog. The XU Hub is an independent news and media platform - for Xero users, by Xero users. Any content, imagery and associated links below are directly from Xero and not produced by the XU Hub.
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Your new hire’s first day has always been important. A warm and organised onboarding process sets them up for a fantastic employment period. A disorganised and fractured onboarding can set the tone for an unhappy worker.

When you’re taking on interns, onboarding becomes even more vital. When you welcome someone into the office they know where to go for help and support, but remote working can be a lonely, confusing experience for a junior.

It’s easy to assume that managing remote hires has not changed much in recent months. But the move to remote working has put much more pressure on your onboarding process.

1 – Remember to plan

Introducing your new hire to their job, company and co-workers is no easy task. There’s a lot to keep track of and remember, so a good old fashioned plan is always a good idea.

I recommend taking your new hire through:

  • How you run meetings. How often are they? When are they? Who will be there? What will you discuss?
  • The software and applications that you use. Are you more into Zoom or Microsoft Teams? Do you use Slack or Asana or both?
  • Their new co-workers and what they do. Whether this is a quick introduction or separate calls with everyone on the team is up to you.
  • What the company mission is. Why was the company founded? What is your main goal?
  • What their role is. Everyone wants to make a difference with their work, so be sure to let your intern know that their work is valuable right from the get-go.

Next, take them through every stage of their work, remembering that you’re working with an intern. They might not have any experience in this whatsoever! Manage your expectations and be sure to cover all bases so you’re set up for success.

Don’t forget about all of the technical aspects of onboarding too. citrus HR can help you manage all of your important bits – from new starter forms to contracts – in one place.

2 – Involve them from the start

Everyone wants to feel valued, so be sure to involve your intern from the start. This means asking them questions in meetings and listening to what they have to say. No one should feel like they can’t speak up.

Sometimes interns can feel anxious about speaking up in front of senior colleagues. I would recommend pointing them to someone like them, perhaps a younger or newer member of your team. This way they can ask any questions they’re embarrassed about to someone who can understand their point of view – it’s a lot less intimidating.

3 – Jump on a call

We all remember that first day feeling. Sometimes, all of the new information is overwhelming and you need to ask questions. Or sometimes things just don’t work, your new email isn’t letting you log in and you need some help.

When you’re in the office, helping someone with a problem is a no-brainer. But when you’re working remotely, it’s easy to tell someone to Google their issue or look at the employee handbook.

But this isn’t great for fostering that team spirit. To evoke that feeling of being part of a friendly, happy and helpful team, take advantage of any complicated questions or issues and hop on a video call.

It will probably take just as long as typing the message will, but you’ll get so much more out of it.

4 – Keep communicating

It might be obvious, but check up on your new intern! Open communication is vital to your team’s success, so be sure to check in with your intern every day. On their first day consider checking in – at the very least – at the beginning and end of the day.

Gauge how they feel and remember to ask questions about how you can improve your onboarding process. They just experienced it, so they’re bound to have some good thoughts!

5 – Make time for non-work chat

And finally, the most obvious thing you can do to foster team spirit is to have a normal chat.

Making an effort to chat like you’re in the office is a really powerful way to get to know someone new.

So whether you take the first 5 minutes of every meeting to have a chin wag or you schedule some Friday afternoon fun, be sure to try and get to know your new intern.

You never know, they could end up being fantastic if only you put in the effort to make them feel part of the team.

Why leave it there?

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