As more professionals are making the shift to distributed, remote, or hybrid work, an increasing number of employers are starting to embrace these flexible arrangements.
To attract and retain both onsite and offsite talent, businesses need to promote a sense of inclusion, connection, and belonging among their remote employees. This should start at the recruitment stage, and be reinforced during employee onboarding.
Digital onboarding is now essential for welcoming new hires to virtual-first teams. It will play an important role in setting your latest team members on the right track, ensuring they have quick and easy access to the resources they need to hit the ground running on their first day.
In this guide, we’re going to explain why digital onboarding is a must-have for businesses today, and highlight some key solutions to have in your digital onboarding “toolkit”.
What is digital onboarding?
Digital onboarding involves the use of online tools and software to get new employees or customers added to a company’s database or CRM system. For this article, we’re going to be focusing just on employee onboarding.
Digital onboarding replicates the traditional, manual employee onboarding process in many ways—during the preboarding stage, new hires will still need to fill out forms, sign contracts, and provide some basic personal information. The main difference is that the digital onboarding experience uses online channels and automation tools to streamline the process.
By digitizing the process, your new employees can benefit from the flexibility of remote onboarding—they can get to know your business from anywhere (and at their own pace) rather than in person at your office.
The digital onboarding process
The ins and outs of the digital employee onboarding process will differ from company to company.
However, it usually begins with some form of identity verification, validation, or authentication so that the new employee can prove they are who they say they are. This might be the employee’s date of birth, email address, or social security number (or similar depending on location, such as a passport in the UK).
There will also be several documents to exchange and fill out, such as an offer letter and employment contract requiring signatures. Compared to physical forms, digitizing these documents and sending them for an electronic signature saves a great deal of time and effort.
Once these preboarding tasks have been checked off, you can host virtual meetings and video tutorials (either in real-time if several new joiners are starting at the same time, or asynchronously for one new team member) to make the process more personalized, interactive, and engaging.
What are the benefits of digital onboarding?
Digital onboarding tools don’t just streamline workflows—they enable businesses to expand their pool of potential hires and attract talent beyond geographical boundaries.
A traditional onboarding program would require new employees to come into the office on their first day to do admin tasks such as setting up their work email. Digital onboarding solutions avoid this—new starters will be ready to go and have some familiarity with your company culture.
Digital tools can have a positive impact on your employee onboarding process in a few ways, including:
- A more flexible and accommodating arrangement for hybrid or fully remote workers
- Better organization and management of materials and resources
- Better compliance with data security and identity management regulations
- Templates and automation reduce the time, energy, and costs involved with manual onboarding, making the process more manageable for HR departments
- Async inductions and tutorials that can be accessed and reviewed at any time create a more consistent new employee experience
- Easier to receive feedback from new hires, to continually improve the process
But none of this would be possible without the right tools and software. So, let’s take a look at some key solutions you should include in your digital onboarding toolkit.
Building the ultimate digital onboarding toolkit
A toolkit of resources and materials is important to a consistent and effective onboarding experience. With the right tools, you only need to create your training materials and templates once—then anyone can access them on demand.
Sending the relevant offer letters, forms, and contracts using DocSend and Dropbox Sign for requesting eSignatures.
Only have paper copies of your onboarding materials? Use Dropbox Scan to transform physical documents into high-quality PDFs and securely store them in Dropbox.
Welcoming new hires
Set up virtual welcome meetings via Zoom or asynchronously with Dropbox Capture. Use Capture to make screen capture video tutorials and introductory video messages instead of asking new hires to sit through long (and often uncomfortable!) inductions and presentations.
Ensure new hires have access to the relevant tools, platforms, and training materials they need for their role—this may be access to a team Dropbox account, collaborative tools like Dropbox Paper, or app integrations to supercharge their workflow.
Training materials too large to send over email? Share large files with new hires with Dropbox Transfer, even if they don’t currently use Dropbox. With advanced file insights, you’ll be able to see if they’ve reviewed the necessary materials, or if they still have items to complete.
Connect with your new team member over Slack, regular catch-up sessions, or monthly meetings, and create agendas in Dropbox Paper to keep track of how they are settling into their new role.
Get your new hires up to speed, quickly
Onboarding just one person to your distributed team can interrupt everyone’s schedules. Async meetings, video tutorials, FAQs, and easily accessible materials stored in cloud storage ensure your new hires have the resources they need while your current team members can focus on making them feel welcome in other ways.
At Dropbox, we’ve made the move to an entirely virtual first workplace. Along the way, we’ve developed some insights for digital onboarding and remote hiring. Explore our Virtual First toolkit to find advice for effectiveness, teamwork, communication, and well-being in remote work.