Remote Onboarding: What you need to know

how to onboard remotely

“I truly believe that onboarding is an art. Each new employee brings with them a potential to achieve and succeed. To lose the energy of a new hire through poor onboarding is an opportunity lost.”

Sarah Wetzel – Director of Human Resources at engage: BDR

You’ve gone through the recruitment process while in lockdown. You’ve chosen your new recruit. It’s now time to get them working, but more importantly get them engaged. It wasn’t too long ago we put together an article on onboarding, why it’s important and how to do it. You can view it here. But now we face a new challenge – how to onboard remotely. We’ve gathered the top tips on getting your new employee fully functional and also excited about working for you.

With all the uncertainly and instability in the job market currently, it’s important to keep in touch with your new recruit and get them onboard before day one. They’ll feel more secure, and what’s better, more excited and keen to prove themselves in your business. So here are our top tips on how to onboard remotely.

Step 1: Get the paperwork done

Don’t start the first day with unnecessary admin. Get the contract out to them as soon as they have accepted your job offer. Get any checks needed done, contracts signed, health questionnaires filled out and their right to work proof taken. The Government have recently updated the temporary guidance on this which can be found here . If you have a company handbook, send it now, get them up to speed with company culture and policies.

Step 2: Get things set up

No one can do their job remotely without the right tech. Get the laptop set up, write down all the passwords and store the securely. Ensure you have the right level of anti-virus protection and all relevant software loaded on and where necessary, have the tech set up to remote into the shared space.

Step 3: Introduce them to the team

Now our teams and offices are split and the usual office camaraderie isn’t present within everyone’s working day, it’s ever more important to get the new recruit involved and meeting members of the team remotely. Get them feeling part of it and get them building the relationships they’ll need to work effectively and as part of a team. Of course you can’t just invite them for after work drinks or a lunch time coffee, but why not do a ‘pub quiz’ online. This could be a great ice breaker, and help them feel a little more at ease and more likely to reach out if they need help or support.

Step 4: Give them a key contact

It can be easy to give an employee all the materials and tell them to essentially ‘get on with it’. But make sure they know who to reach out to if they need to. Give them the contact numbers, introduce them if they don’t report to you, and all importantly, check in with them regularly. Make sure they know you are there at any point to answer questions, clarify and reassure. If they report to you, but you don’t have the time to manage them, assign them a ‘buddy’. An experienced member of the team who can show them the ropes and be there for any and all questions. Feeling comfortable and confident to start with is a much needed foundation for employee retention.

Step 5: Tell them what you’re expecting of them

Clear guidelines should be set out from day one. This is especially important when you have a new team member starting remotely. Be specific (but realistic) with regards to their working hours and what you expect them to achieve in this time. Outline what you hope they achieve within certain time frames over the next few weeks/months to track their progress. Regularly check in with them to ensure this is manageable, and adjust as necessary.

Step 6: Plan their training

No one can walk into a new job and immediately know what to do or how things work. Plan and schedule training to get the new recruit up to speed in a quick and comprehensive way. If you’re unsure on what’s most helpful or what needs to be covered, brainstorm with your team and set aside time to plan and adapt it. Don’t leave it until the last minute!

Step 7: Give them a timetable

To help a new employee get into the rhythm of a new way of working, it’s often helpful to give them a calendar or schedule. A set structure is reassuring but let them know they can come to you if they are struggling to get things done.

In summary: Communication is key

A new hire’s first week should be a balance of being excited, settling in, and some easy wins. It’s important for the onboarding experience not to feel overwhelming and for new hires to accomplish things—even if they’re small—in their first week. Make them excited and ready for the next week. Onboarding is one of the first steps you take towards setting your employees up for success, and knowing how to onboard remotely is an ever-evolving process. As more people join your company, new and different opportunities to improve it will arise, so keep adapting. Get feedback often, find what works for your team with how to onboard remotely, and continue developing on it with each new hire. Communication is key, not just between yourself and the new recruit, but also with the team.

Onboarding is a huge group effort. So many people come together when someone is hired—HR, functional teams, coordinators, IT—that to have their efforts fall flat would be a huge disappointment. But by following these best practices, you can provide a great onboarding experience together.

Related Dovetail articles
How to conduct a good telephone interview
The art of onboarding
How to make candidates feel comfortable in a telephone interview

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