How to Successfully Onboard Remotely
Updated: Aug 24
As more companies choose to hire remote workers, they face the challenge of creating an onboarding process that accommodates the need to successfully integrate the social and commercial expectations of the business.
Engagement levels are harder to achieve virtually.
Limited opportunities to participate with fellow staff members can make new starters feel disconnected. But there are ways to ensure your onboarding program minimises the obvious disadvantages of remote integration.
Here are some best practices for onboarding remote employees and assimilating them into your organisation:
Okay, so you’ve offered them the job and they’ve accepted. Great news.
Ordinarily, the next stage might be to invite your new hire in to meet the team, perhaps take them out for some bonding over a couple of drinks. But if, climatically or logistically, this isn’t possible, you do need to ensure the purpose isn’t missed.
If you have company videos that explain culture, working practices and general expectations, send them for viewing. Perhaps there’s a section on your website? Forward a link to this. In the absence of video (but you really ought to have video), a regular brochure would be useful.
And if you really want to make an impression, why not break the ice with a virtual team get-together? An online game is great for this.
Welcoming a new staff member to your organisation is as important as the interview process preceding it. It is their first exposure to a new job, a new world. Make sure it starts right.
The onboarding period will depend on various factors. How and when you converse during this time is crucial. Remember, you aren’t conducting this face-to-face.
Working to a schedule will ensure nothing is missed.
Confirming the Employment Contract is signed and returned is a priority. Online document-signing software such as DocuSign and Signable makes this easy for both parties. You can also use this to send any additional forms and legal reference points, as well as highlighting a point of contact for any queries.
Arranging a video call between the hirer and leading protagonists in the business is essential. Separate sessions or a series, this is time to foster deeper relationships and create clarity around expectations. Whether your new employee is commencing employment immediately or in a few weeks, their understanding of the integral nuances will help them acclimatise more quickly.
Of course, video can be used for training purposes too – either in real time or pre-recorded.
Follow these initial video calls with regular check-ins. And if there are logistical issues around video, a phone conversation will suffice. The purpose is to engage as many touch points as relevant to ensure your new hire has a broad understanding of the business, what’s required of them and, of course, to ensure they are happy.
Accentuated efficiency is the outcome of effective onboarding communication.
One of the downsides to remote working can be a sense of isolation. Humans are wired to be sociable, so it’s important to ensure people in your business feel connected.
For new starters, quickly building rapport with their peers will build confidence and reduce the feeling of separation. Consider connecting them with existing members of staff and encourage regular catch-up chats. Bonding over common interests is a sure-fire way of integrating people, strengthening the team and generating productivity.
Perhaps you have someone responsible for organising team get-togethers? This is the ideal person to enlist. And if you don’t – and it can’t be you – perhaps now’s the time to change that! Your onboarding could take on a whole new dimension.
Few things disrupt remote working than technological inadequacies. Then things, quite literally, don’t work.
To enable a smooth remote onboarding process, you’ll need a tech capability checklist. Your new hire will need (and expect):
A fast, fully operational, laptop or desktop computer
Powerful fibre broadband, to reduce lag and increase efficiency
Video web meeting software such as Zoom, Crowdcast or Whereby
Apps and download resources for role requirements
IT/cyber security measures implemented via your IT support
Onboarding remotely presents leaders with different challenges. But with a well-honed structure, no hurdle is insurmountable. Yes, it may take time to implement something perfect for you. And this is fine. Just make sure you have stakeholder buy-in, and everyone acts on their responsibilities.
And remember, communication is the key to successful remote onboarding.