How to Onboard an Apprentice Remotely: Top Tips for Success

Written on: 10 March 2021

Written by: Frances Hardcastle

Topic

[Employers]

With remote working expected to continue into the summer and beyond, you may be wondering how to integrate a new employee within your socially distanced team.

And when that new team member is an apprentice, getting the remote onboarding process right takes on a whole new importance.

When you consider that this could be your apprentice's first ever experience in the workplace, you want to make sure you're giving them the information and support they need to succeed.

That's where we come in! We've been successfully interviewing and onboarding new apprentices from home for a while now, along with our other new employees. In this blog, we'll share our top tips for remote onboarding of a new apprentice. 

Related Blog: How to Interview an Apprentice Remotely

Can an Apprentice Work from Home?

The short answer to this question is yes. Apprentices can work from home as long as their job role can be performed remotely with appropriate support in place. While a construction or butchery apprentice would struggle to complete their tasks remotely, there is nothing to prevent office-based apprentices working from home.

Right now, we have many apprentice Software Developers, Data Analysts, Digital Marketers and IT Support Technicians working remotely full-time or for part of the week.

For Baltic Apprenticeships, home working is an extension of our digital-first training and support approach, where apprentices can learn from anywhere with an internet connection. 

How to Integrate an Apprentice into a Remote Team

Getting to know your new apprentice and helping them feel at home within your team is an important aspect of onboarding.

In an office, there are more opportunities for spontaneous chat: bonding over the latest Netflix series, joining in with the 3pm tea run, and catch up with all your office in-jokes and shared experience. When joining a new team from home, these organic processes need a bit more encouragement.

Matt Welch, our People Manager here at Baltic, shares his top tips for welcoming someone into your team remotely:

  • Before your apprentice starts, give them a quick snapshot of who they'll be working with. A short "meet your team" guide with photos and a quick "about me" section can reduce those first day nerves and help your apprentice know what to expect.
  • Schedule a half-hour virtual get together, either pre-boarding or on the first day so that your apprentice can meet their immediate team. Chat about your team ethos, experience within the group, exciting projects that are coming up, and things to look forward to.
  • Assign your apprentice a buddy - someone experienced who can be their go-to for any questions as they come up.
  • Have a schedule of engagement activity lined up: a virtual brew, regular check-ins, and a weekly open-ended team chat can be useful prompts to make connections with the team online.

The secret to remote onboarding is simple: make time to make connections. Your apprentice should always know when their next one-to-one session is with their line manager, and how to ask for help or guidance in-between.

Read more: How to Get the Best from Your Apprentice when Working from Home

Meeting your Apprentice's Wellbeing Needs Remotely

Starting a new job is often a daunting process, especially for a new apprentice where the learning curve is steep.

An apprentice dives in at the deep end of both your business and their chosen industry. Add the fact that they're starting this journey while working from home, and the experience suddenly becomes more intense.

To prevent your new apprentice feeling like Fran in the office episode of Black Books - with no idea what they're support to be doing and too afraid to ask - it's important to take the time to support them. It's up to you to ensure they know about, and have access to, your support resources. 

Just as you'd show a new employee around the office, explaining where to find stationery and shared documents, it's really important to show a remote apprentice where to find information and support for wellbeing issues. 

If you have an employee assistance programme, make sure they know where to find the details and outline how they can ask for help within the team.

By asking your apprentice what they need from you early on, and by establishing clear expectations from both sides, the onboarding process will run much more smoothly, and your apprentice will feel more secure and confident in those vital first weeks.

Read more: An Apprentice's Guide to Working from Home

How to Make a Remote Onboarding Plan for An Apprentice

To make a formal onboarding plan for a remote apprentice, our People Manager Matt recommends defining your goals and then adapting your current onboarding processes for the virtual world.

"Before Covid, we'd never virtually onboarded new employees before. So, when making preparations, we started by asking ourselves what impact and outcomes we wanted from the onboarding process," explains Matt.

He asked himself and the team four key questions before creating his virtual onboarding plan:

  • What are the main activities of this role?
  • How does this role relate to other teams in the business?
  • What knowledge about the business and our industry would a new employee need?
  • How long will it be before someone new to this role achieves full competency, and what support will they need to achieve this?

"Once we'd landed on these answers, it was a case of going through our previous onboarding tools, looking at what works online and what needed tweaking."

Our virtual onboarding tools included PDF guides, pre-recorded videos about our programmes, listening to recordings of model calls, remote shadowing across different teams, and asking new recruits to complete simple onboarding journals to reflect on what they were learning. These journals formed the basis of one-to-one onboarding meetings with line managers. 

"When creating a virtual onboarding plan, it's tempting to throw all the information you have at a new employee," said Matt. "But this can be overwhelming and ultimately disengaging. Set someone up for success and ask what is relevant, what is important, and what is necessary for them to get started in the role. 

"Onboarding is process, not an event."

Find out more:

To find out more about recruiting an apprentice remotely, or to discuss how an apprentice might fit into your team, please browse our programmes or get in touch with our friendly Employer Engagement Team. 

 

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Apprentice of the Month - July 2021

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