With more companies transitioning to remote hiring and operations, managing onboarding for remote employees has become more challenging than ever before. 

We’ve created this guide to help you navigate through these changes and to create processes that will help you onboard new hires effectively and build great relationships from the start!

Remote onboarding

Having A good onboarding process for remote employees can improve retention by a huge 82% and help new employees get fully immersed in both business operations and company culture. 

The first few months are crucial for new hires as research shows that  33% of new employees start job hunting again within the first six months after joining a new company.  Both Recruitment and onboarding of employees require a big investment of time and money so it's a massive hit to the company if the relationship doesn’t work out. To minimize the risk of  mis-hires or increased employee turnover make sure you hire the right people.  

Having a well-planned remote onboarding process will make someone feel welcome and build a good relationship from the very beginning. But keep in mind, a good remote onboarding process needs to be designed in a way that’s adjusted for the new, remote reality.

First things First 

To design a seamless and organized remote onboarding experience, we recommend starting with creating a clear roadmap of the first few weeks. Make a checklist of all information and introduction needed for the new employee and block sufficient time in their calendar to familiarize themselves with it.

Give the new employees access to email, shared calendars, online drives and tools, as well as relevant communication channels. Provide them passwords and equipment before their first day to eliminate unnecessary stress. Make sure to set up online meetings with relevant team leaders and share access to documents such as the employee handbook, a team/organisation overview, NDA, and relevant information about your company and ongoing projects.

If you’re using a work planning tool like Monday or Asana, give your new employee a virtual tour and introduction to work breakdown structure and initiatives in progress. 

An important note - make sure not to overwhelm the new hire with large amounts of information, which can be daunting at first. Set clear expectations, priorities and let the first few days become an opportunity for the new employee to get to know the company and the team more than anything else. 

Another important thing to remember is to gather all the required information for the employee’s payroll. Learn more about how to successfully manage remote payroll and compliance here.

Develop a structured plan

Create a structured plan for the first few weeks so the new employee knows what to expect. Brief and prepare other team members that are going to be involved in the onboarding to ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities and are familiar with the objectives of their assigned sessions. This will give your remote employees every tool and introduction they need to hit the ground running. 

Review every necessary step of the onboarding process and decide how each session should be conducted in order to be efficient and to make sure that you maintain a good experience when onboarding online. Do you need to organise a video call or can you rather share some documents that the new employee can review in their own time? 

Apart from strictly work-related sessions, you also have to remember to plan and facilitate more social sessions such as “online watercooler chats” or an online after-hours meetup to break the ice. 

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

  • Compliance - the basics of the role.

  • Clarification - explanation of their job responsibilities and tasks.

  • Culture - introduction to the norms and team activities.

  • Connection - introduction to teams and colleagues.

Getting down to business 

It’s important to walk your new hires through your expectations as this will set out how they will work going forward. This includes:

  • Expected deliverables

  • Breakdown of individual and team responsibilities  

  • Bonus allocation if applicable

  • Company policies

  • Available resources and tools

  • Performance reviews

Consider setting up a mentorship program

Explore the idea of connecting your new employees with more senior team members and assigning a buddy or someone responsible for the person’s onboarding, both work- and socially-related to help them get comfortable in the new environment. Having a one go-to person can make the transition into a new role much easier and help your new employee onboard much faster, by eliminating confusion as to who’s the right person to contact for specific issues.

Communication is key 

Be mindful of how open and frequent you want the communication to be in your organization, plan regular updates and make sure that everyone has equal visibility of what’s going on in the company. 

Schedule follow-up sessions with a new employee to check-in and see how things are going. Check if they are missing any information or have questions. 

Encourage other team members to message a new employee to start building relationships and exchange information about the company and projects.

Useful tools for remote onboarding

There are plenty of digital tools to help with remote onboarding, such as the Donut extension on Slack that will randomly match the new employee with other people in the organisation for a quick coffee. Greetbot is another extension that can act as an onboarding assistant for new employees and Kahoot quizzes can be a nice addition to your social meetups and serve as a nice icebreaker. 

Keep evaluating

Make sure to constantly analyse your onboarding process, especially from the employees perspective, to see if it delivers the intended value and outcome. 

Ask new employees  for feedback on their experience and focus especially on what has been good and what could have been done better and refine the process as you go to ensure the best possible onboarding experience. 

Go the extra mile 

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 etc. 

Make sure you purchase it ahead of them starting - make them feel welcome!


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