Guide to Onboarding Remote Employees

Table of Contents

Businesses must realize that COVID-19 has dramatically changed the way we work. As new hires come onboard, companies should transition from a physical onboarding process to ingenious virtual programs aimed at enabling new hires who are working remotely feel welcome.


For new hires missing out on physical workplace experience and direct team bonding, companies are rolling out initiatives that include interactive digital onboarding sessions, virtual programs with hiring managers and company heads, connecting new hires to buddies who can coach them as they work remotely, access to online learning and training resources.


New hire onboarding is critical for organizations that want to improve employee engagement & retention and provide a culture-building employee experience. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, many companies have had to digitize their onboarding programs which requires a new strategy for effectiveness. Fortunately, with some innovation and customization, you can still tweak your onboarding process to meet new hire needs and set them up for success. Here are some methods to design online onboarding programs for new hires.


  • Redesign the current process


For the best virtual onboarding experience, retain best practices from your existing onboarding checklist. Businesses need to be diligent when designing the onboarding program for remote new hires and communication should be intact between key stakeholders. Every stage of the new hire orientation demands greater focus and clarity. How you tailor it for remote work determines your new hire’s remote onboarding experience.


  • Arrange an in-person meeting.


It’s great to start proceeding with a visit to the main office headquarters if it is feasible. If your new hire is placed near your office, consider having them visit the office for a face-to-face meeting. This is important to build meaningful relationships with remote workers. Make sure to schedule quarterly or annual events and social outings, where teams get a chance to bond and get to know each other.


  • Specify channels of communication


Specify what modes of communication can be used such as slack. Use internal networking tools such as slack for communication within teams and departments. Employees should be required to share daily email updates with work status reports to ensure work schedules are on track. Establishing and conveying expectations around responsiveness helps improve coordination between managers and employees and enhances productivity. Setting schedule expectations from the start eliminates any ambiguity between employees based on time. Having one common policy for all concerned is preferable since allowing an employee to set their own schedule, but allocating set hours to another could breed employee frustration and create an unfair work environment.


  • Break the ice meeting


The company should provide resources for learning and engagement to facilitate a smooth onboarding experience for the new hire. Managers and leaders should hold virtual ‘meet & greet’ sessions with the new hires to foster camaraderie. Set up a Zoom introduction virtual meeting with the team, have a Q&A session to ask questions, and get to know his team. Give your new hire’s number to his reporting manager so they can initiate a welcome call.


  • Digitize processes to streamline remote work


Employers need to get work done, whether they work remotely or from the workplace. Employees need to keep in mind that working from home is work. While some employers offer some flexibility in the work timings, the work still has to get done. By digitizing work processes such as work hours tracking to time logging, managers can monitor work to see if it is on schedule. Time spend on each project, the status of each delegated project should be updated digitally. By digitizing work-related documents companies can save time and reduce errors. Leverage web conferencing tools like zoom where teams can participate in a call with video, screen sharing, and recording functionalities.


  • Care Package


Put in place a care package that includes what you’d normally provide a new hire and something more to demonstrate that even if they are not present in person at the physical work location, they are still an integral part of the company. Packages can include a notebook, a pen, a 25$ gift card,  a candy, a snack, and a personalized note.


  • Assign a virtual buddy


Assigning a buddy for the first week or first month would be helpful. The buddy could handhold the remote employee in doubts relating to work as well as the work culture. Communication is a challenge with remote employees. Hence greater attention must be paid to ensure that the employee has understood his role as well as the expectations from him. Remote work policies should specify how an employee’s productivity will be measured. Productivity can be measured using different methods, such as time spent on the project, the number of bottlenecks resolved, the number of projects handled, the billing of projects allocated, the number of client interactions, etc.


  • Transfer equipment in advance


Ensure new hire equipment like laptops, and phones, are shipped early so that new hires don’t have to wait for it to arrive to commence work. Before the new hire’s official start date it is good to have all things ready and shipped to avoid unnecessary delays which can be frustrating for a new hire. Choose services like FedEx with a proven track record and guaranteed delivery timelines.


  • Schedule a training session with your IT department


Remote workers should get trained on how to use workplace communication tools like slack, project management tools, file-sharing solutions, and cloud applications like Google Drive. They should also get familiar with installing anti-virus software, setting up 2-factor authorization, and security of laptops and other equipment. Required credentials should be shared to access official documents and remote hires should be trained on password protection and encryption.


  • Company ethos and culture


Employees work better once they have grasped their work environment. The culture and ethos of a company can be communicated through mailers, emails, company paraphernalia, and video interactions. When a new hire comes onboard, the quicker he integrates with the company culture the better. Video calls should be scheduled on priority with the new hire to help them acclimate to the company’s culture and its new way of doing things. It’s critical to use every step of onboarding as a channel to reinforce the company culture, values, and norms.

EMP Trust new hire onboarding software helps improve employee engagement & retention and provides a personalized and fun new onboarding experience. Our employee onboarding software provides new hires forms with an intuitive new hire portal and branding with electronic form I-9 and E-Verify. New hire forms include Federal and all State Tax Forms, Direct Deposit, New Hire Policies, and Handbook Signoffs. Our onboarding wizard helps new hires learn about company culture, complete all required paperwork, understand HR policies, sign up for benefits, and view training and orientation schedules.

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