A good onboarding process can improve staff retention by a huge 82%. This makes it worth investing in creating a great remote onboarding process as part of your best hiring practice. 

The first impression of your company can’t be ignored. 33% of new employees start job hunting within the first six months after joining a new business. Recruiting and onboarding an employee takes  so much, time, money and effort. It's a massive hit to the company if the employee doesn’t work out. 

Having a strong and well planned remote onboarding process will make someone feel welcomed and a part of the team from the very beginning. But keep in mind, a remote onboarding process is quite different to one conducted in person. 

Create a successful onboarding program

Creating a checklist of everything the recruits need to start on the first day. From their email address to laptop, desk and chair, phone, even uniform and stationary, get the basics sorted so they’re ready to start work on their first day. 

Prepare the new employee in advance for their onboarding by sending them documents in advance. Examples could include an employee handbook, a team overview, a company presentation or similar. 

Make sure to set up a structured plan for the first few weeks and send over the plan to the new employee so that they know what to expect. Prepare the team members involved in the onboarding to ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities and are familiar with the objectives of their assigned sessions. Give your new recruits everything they need to hit the ground running. 

Decide whether the remote onboarding process will be formal or informal, and this will depend on your company culture. If you decide on an informal route, this should still be organised. A chaotic first day reflects badly on the team.

Consider how to digitize your onboarding process. This could be a handbook that has the company culture and policies written down or a set of tools to cover the social aspects of onboarding, such as the watercooler chats. These are quite hard to recreate in a remote onboarding process. 

When making a structured plan for the onboarding, consider the four Cs:

  • Compliance - the basics of the role.
  • Clarification - and explanation of their job.
  • Culture - explain the office norms.
  • Connection - introduce them to their colleagues.

Start by introducing new employees to the team and provide details of the company they now work for. Walk them through our expectations as this will set out how they will work ongoing. This includes:

  • work and quality
  • performance in the team
  • bonus allocation if applicable
  • company policies
  • resources
  • tools
  • team hierarchy 
  • performance reviews
  • line manager details

And finally, look into the opportunities of giving the new employee a gift that represents the company on their first day, such as a cool bit of gear, vouchers, a mug or something more. Make sure you purchase it ahead of them starting, make them feel welcome! 

During the remote onboarding process

First things first. Make sure to have all types of equipment and access levels ready for the employee’s first day. Ensure they can log into their emails and access all the tools they need to do the job. All paperwork needed should also be read and signed in advance, to show the new recruit you are serious about their value to the team. 

Onboarding is the perfect time to introduce the new team member to the company culture and how you work. Spend more time during the first weeks on how you work and how the organisation looks, strategies, visions, team structures, etc. before you dig into the more tactical parts of the role. The new employee needs to have the big picture before digging into the details. Make them feel included in the team and in the organisation as a whole. 

Schedule follow ups sessions each day to check-in and see how things are going. Are they missing any information, do they have any questions etc. Consider assigning a buddy or someone responsible for the person’s onboarding, both work related and socially to help them get to know the company and team. 

There are plenty of tools to help with the remote onboarding, such as the Donut extension on Slack that can randomly match the new employee with other people in the organisation for a quick coffee, or the Slack extension Greetbot that can act as an onboarding assistant for new employees. Set aside time for social meetups, with the team or across teams. Create goals for the onboarding and the first period with the employee.

After the initial remote onboarding

The first three months of work at a company is where employees decide whether or not they want to stay, which implies that having a good onboarding process and regular follow-ups is important to keep your employees from leaving. We’re not suggesting you go to the extreme length that Zapier takes, offering new hires $4,000 to leave the company after a few months. They want people to really work there!

Communication forms the backbone of the team and you will want to know that the new employees are progressing well. Have regular check-ins with them, daily or weekly, to discuss how they are settling in. Check progress, catch misunderstandings or potential questions early on. It takes about a year for a new recruit to get up to speed and it’s important to ensure they’re on track and that you follow them closely. 

Joining a company is exciting for the individual because it brings new responsibilities, tasks and routines, and most new recruits are keen to make a positive contribution from the start. Let them be their authentic selves from the start and they will bring fresh ideas and perspectives before company culture takes over. 

You should also remember to evaluate the onboarding process, especially from the employees perspective. Ask them for feedback on what has been good and what could have been done differently. Use this feedback loop as a learning point to ensure the best possible onboarding experience and to establish a process you can harvest value from in years to come. 

Next steps

Curious to discuss some best practices for onboarding remote employees? Talk to us about how to create the best onboarding experience for your new recruits. We have plenty of experience onboarding remote employees ourselves and have helped companies worldwide hire and onboard new team members remotely.

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