Remote Onboarding: How to Get a New Employee Started Right

Onboarding remote employees is an art unto itself. The traditional onboarding process cannot simply be moved to all Zoom calls and emails. Much of the in-person onboarding process allows for those collisions and moments where a new hire can ask a question, have an impromptu introduction to a colleague in the hall, and gather valuable data through body language and eye contact.

With all of those small but critical pieces missing, how do you make sure a remote onboarding process is a success? Retention for remote workers is difficult but it is possible. It takes an intentional effort to predict remote worker needs, get them connected, and make them feel comfortable enough to ask questions and reach out for the support they need to succeed. 

Here are 8 tips for getting a new remote employee started right.

Remote Onboarding: How to Get a New Employee Started Right 

  1. Start by getting clear on what will be different about the remote onboarding process from the traditional onboarding process. Will it need to be stretched out to accommodate fewer meetings per day? Do additional meetings and structured conversations need to take place because those will not naturally occur around the water cooler and in the hallway? 
  2. Give new hires a “welcome” checklist. This can be a living document that exists in the cloud so both manager and employee can follow along with progress. This also gives the new hire some clear structure and tasks to get started on during the onboarding process.
  3. Create a schedule for the first few days of onboarding. This doesn’t mean you should pack your new hire’s day with back-to-back meetings for eight hours a day, but it does mean that the new hire isn’t tasked with figuring out what to do and who to meet during her first week. Megan Lipera, recruitment professional, went through a remote onboarding process. “Setting an in-depth schedule for training is important so that the new hire isn’t sitting at home wondering what they should be doing. When you are in the office it’s easy to pop over to see your manager and ask a quick question but remotely that can be a bit more challenging,” said Lipera.
  4. Include thoughtful welcome gestures. This goes a long way in helping a new hire feel welcomed. Email an electronic gift card. Send a box of company swag. Even make sure the new hire is invited to the weekly happy hour the week before she starts. These are all ways to celebrate her start at the company.
  5. Update onboarding content with a mix of video, audio, images, and text. Standard messaging such as an introduction to the company’s history or values can be recorded in video format. But remember, an onboarding process that is entirely video can feel slow and passive. And all text can be overwhelming. So make sure you give thought to the onboarding experience. It should be engaging and varied. 
  6. Make sure software and hardware setup is seamless. One of the most important aspects of a successful onboarding process is getting your new hire the tools and support they need to get set up with software, collaboration tools, and email right away. Hack this process so it becomes painless.
  7. Encourage team members who may not be working with new hires directly to reach out to schedule coffee chats within the first two weeks. This will help them feel more connected to the company at large and not feel siloed in the new role. And instead of getting bombarded by scheduling in the first week, it gives them time to adjust to the new role and new company and meet people on a rolling basis. 
  8. Create structure for the first 30, 60, and 90 days. Work together with the new hire to develop a plan for these three milestones. This helps ensure alignment on expectations and gives you a framework to measure success. Additionally, schedule weekly meetings during this period to answer questions and discuss priorities and goals. This meeting exists so the new hire knows he will have the opportunity to ask those questions that would organically pop up and be answered if you were working together in a traditional office. Sometimes asking new hires some open-ended questions gives them the opportunity to ask for clarification. 

By making your virtual onboarding process a pleasant, thoughtful experience for your new employees, everybody wins. Your new hires, as well as the company as a whole, will feel a greater sense of connection and will be set up for a healthy long-term relationship and greater success.

by McKinley Marketing Partners