How to Onboard an Employee Remotely

Have a new employee joining your team? Are they joining remotely? If you answered yes to these questions, you have come to the right place. Onboarding is never an easy task. There’s a lot to consider when you’re bringing a new employee onboard – from meeting the team to being set up with the right tools. Onboarding new team members is easy when it’s face to face but what about when this whole process has to be done remotely? In this blog, we help you strategise and plan how to best onboard a remote employee in your team.

Why is onboarding important?

A structured onboarding process is essential to ensure new employees are set up for success. This will put them on a strong footing from the outset and will allow them to feel confident immediately. Most managers are aware of the long-term impact onboarding has on the business and want to help their team get off to a positive start, build networks and understand the team culture.

What are the barriers to onboarding remotely?

Onboarding new employees remotely comes with its own set of challenges and considerations. When staff are working remotely, employee engagement and company culture is only being delivered by video or verbally so it’s important to pay closer attention to how it’s managed and explained. Businesses and leaders need to develop onboarding programs that are tailored to time and technology. You also need to consider the timing vis a vis geographic location, number of employees to onboard at the same time and how to best showcase your business, whilst ensuring new employees do not suffer from information overload.

Here are our top recommendations to help you plan your remote onboarding programs Succeed:

Be empathetic to this change

Remember your first day at a new job? You were excited, but anxious too. A friendly warm smile, quick hello, and a team lunch were moments that solved the anxiety. These are opportunities that your remote hire will not have. It is also highly likely that they have never experienced a fully virtual onboarding process until now. With this sensitivity in mind, ensure you share that this is a new way to onboard even for you (or your first!) and create a plan that helps you leverage your strengths to welcome your employee.

Provide a liaison person

It is critical to have a dedicated onboarding liaison person for remote onboarding. Not only will they fill in the role of the informal mentor, but also answer any questions as they come up. Make sure you identify, appoint and communicate about this liaison early on. If possible, this mentor should be someone other than the person’s manager, so that there is no formality in asking questions. A new employee can have a lot of questions, and the last thing you want is to have them feel uncertain about who to ask.

Create a connection before their first day

As soon as the candidate has a start date, take the opportunity to showcase your business and make them feel part of the family. Send an onboarding checklist to complete before their team member starts. Send employees a welcome email from the Director before their first day. Some companies send a care package filled with the business’s merchandise, a warm note and a gift card, or just a bunch of flowers – this can work wonders to setting the person up to start on a positive note. This also holds equally true for technology. Offer the employee a session with IT to share your videoconferencing platform, communication channel, project management software and unwritten rules around virtual meetings, communications etc.

Plan their catchups

It is tough to have lunches, coffee catchups and crossovers in the hallways when the workplace is predominantly virtual. Be proactive with setting up a mix of formal and informal interactions between new employees and other team members. If you are onboarding multiple employees together, consider getting senior management to have an open-ended discussion with them. Ensure their direct managers have a one-on-one catchup mixed with lots of informal catchups with the team members. Avoid silos by doing this proactively.

Make the most of technology

Without technology, remote working as we know it wouldn’t exist. While the technology already existed before remote work became more commonplace, it’s important to embrace tech and use every resource available. Streamline the apps you use to ensure your tech is relevant to the employee’s role and doesn’t create excess admin (eg: don’t have 3 different message systems). 


Help new employees feel included

Starting a new role can be nerve-racking for anyone, and it can be harder to break the ice if employees can’t meet each other in person. That’s where regular video chats can help staff feel comfortable and engaged and give them that key social connection they would otherwise miss. Virtual daily start-up video call helps the teams discuss business priorities. They can have a team Google Meet wrap-up with some fun and celebrations at the end of the week. Encourage feedback throughout the onboarding process. Your remote employees can tell you exactly where you can improve for your next group of new hires.

Explain the company culture

Workplace culture is the single most important thing that defines how well a business performs. Don’t believe us? Read this blog to understand how workplace culture can impact your bottomline. Spend time talking about typical cultural dimensions in the workplace, unwritten rules around online chatting, and raising any grievances or sharing experiences. Highlight any key ‘non-work’ chat groups or places where they can share a cute pic of their dog/cat. Create the space for the new employee to ask questions, and explain answers using different scenarios that they may encounter. Supplement these with a session from a senior leader on workplace culture, values and behaviours.

Onboarding is an important driver of employee, and business success. Getting off to a great start with clarity creates momentum and provides confidence to the employee.

Your onboarding program should however not just be limited to this early period of time, it should also provide an ongoing developmental foundation that continues to strengthen your employee’s experience and performance.

Click here to access our Onboarding Checklist now

Connect with us and get support with designing a recruitment process that delivers fast results.

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