Onboarding Remote Employees? Here’s What You Need To Know

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Think back to your very first day of school- filled with excitement, anxiety, and uncertainty of what to expect.  To ease your nerves, your teacher likely started by introducing you to the class, providing an overview of the curriculum and highlighting what it would take to succeed.  Now fast forward to your first day at a new job. What did your employer do to support you?

One of the primary goals of Employee Onboarding is to integrate new hires physically, emotionally and professionally into the workplace. Yet, as more and more workplaces transition to remote work, gone are the days of traditional employee onboarding.

Before we discuss the process of onboarding remote employees, let’s first consider why employee onboarding is critical (hint: it might be more important than you think!)


Did you know?

  • Organizations with strong employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82%;
  • 54%of companies with onboarding programs reported higher employee engagement;
  • A negative onboarding experience results in new hires being 2x more likely to look for other opportunities;
  • 88% of employees think their employer did a poor job with the onboarding process;
  • 72% of employees say one-on-one time with their direct manager is the most important part of any pre-boarding or onboarding process;
  • 87% of organizations that assign a mentor or a buddy during the onboarding process say that it’s an effective way to speed up new hire proficiency.

As we can see from the above statistics, onboarding is a key component of the overall employee experience and should not be overlooked. That’s why we’ve put together a list of our top tips to ensure that your remote hires have the tools they need to hit the ground running- (even before day 1)!



 Why wait until the first day to start the onboarding process? Connect with new hires early and send them a welcome email a week or two prior to Day 1. This is a great time to introduce the team, set expectations of the first week, complete any administrative paperwork, and provide details for a main point of contact in the case they have preliminary questions.

This is also a perfect time to get new hires set-up with any necessary equipment. For some organizations, this may require you to send any IT hardware (i.e. laptops) to an employee’s workplace, or have them come do a pick up at a suitable location.  You might also need to work with your IT department to ensure that they have access to any relevant systems including office 365, CRM, and cloud storage.

If you are sending equipment we recommend including company swag such as a welcome package and company branded merchandise at the same time!


 The First Day

The first day can be an overwhelming experience for any new hire, particularly when you’re not meeting face-to-face. From our experience, remote employees are often faced with information overload, so it is critical that you have a one-on-one with them as soon as possible.  If you haven’t already done so, get them online ASAP! Without web connection, your remote worker is virtually useless and will likely feel cut off from the rest of the team.

Likewise, if you haven’t already introduced them to them team, set-up a Zoom and/or video call where team members can provide brief introductions of themselves and their work roles.  For Slack users, check out the feature called “Donut”, which reminds coworkers to meet up, whether for a virtual coffee or a 15-minute phone call.

The goal for Day 1 should be to make new hires feel part of the team. If possible, provide them with a virtual ‘office tour’ to provide insight into your organizational culture. At this time, we also recommend setting them up with a dedicated mentor or ‘buddy’, who can answer any questions they have during the first few weeks of employment.


The First Week

 During the first few weeks of employment, remote workers should start to feel immersed in their role. You can start by creating a checklist with goals and clear expectations of the first week. This will help ensure that new team members feel like they’re progressing during the first few days and have a clear understanding of what they’re expected to do. This is the perfect time to work collaboratively with them to define their short and long-term goals.

However, be sure not to confuse a checklist with onboarding. A checklist is merely a starting point to get them up to speed during the first week, whereas successful onboarding can take up to a few months.


Ongoing Support

Remote employees should not be out of sight and out of mind, so don’t let support end after the first week. Make time for face-to-face and schedule ongoing virtual meetings to continue to build rapport and help avoid feelings of isolation. At this time you can discuss progress and areas of concern, as well as encourage feedback on the onboarding process.  This will aid in their progression, as well as provide insight into improvements for future hires.

Similarly, don’t let remote team building activities dwindle after the first few weeks of onboarding. Check out our previous post, which discusses ways that teams can stay socially connected in a virtual space.

Finally, at the end of the onboarding process remember to celebrate their accomplishments and goals achieved along the way!


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