How you conduct remote onboarding of new hires will make a big difference in the success remote workers.

Remote Onboarding: Essential Steps To Set Up Your New Hires for Success

Fully remote and hybrid (combined onsite and remote work hours) workstyles have opened new opportunities for employees and employers alike. Employers are more comfortable now hiring the best qualified candidates regardless of geographic location. And employees are finding it easier to achieve their desired work/life balance.

Employers who succeed with a remote workforce ensure that networked technology facilitates collaboration and productivity among professionals with specialized skills. Employers who get the full value out of employees regardless of their location integrate them as completely as possible into their operations.

This is the goal of the onboarding process. How a skilled professional is introduced to a company, their colleagues, and their role has a huge impact on the quality of their contributions and may even determine how long they stay with the company. According to a study published on LinkedIn, 38% of workers will change jobs within the first year, with more than half of those leaving in the first 45 days.

Proper onboarding can put your company on the right side of those figures.  

What is Remote Onboarding?

Remote or virtual onboarding can generally be broken into three categories:

Technical: Remote jobs are dependent on technology. The surest way to make an employee feel welcome and capable of their best work is to make sure they have all the technology they need. This includes access to all the systems and proper orientation on how your company uses them, and responsive technical support if they run into any issues.

Operational: Remote employees need to know how workflow is managed, how they will be receiving tasks, and how to deliver their finished work. Most importantly, they need to know who to go to for answers to any questions they have and who will be evaluating their work. This is almost always the responsibility of their supervisor.

Cultural: Every company has a culture. The more deliberate a company is about bringing new hires into their culture; the more successful employees will be. This applies a thousand-fold for remote employees who cannot engage in the casual, in-person social interactions commonly known for building a sense of community and belonging.

Remote Onboarding Checklist: Key Stages

Onboarding – especially of a remote employee – is not a one-and-done event. It requires an extended, systematic approach.

1. Pre-boarding: Offer acceptance to first day

As soon as they have formally accepted your offer, they should receive a personal note from their supervisor. Depending on the circumstances, a phone call may be even better. It’s never too soon to start cultivating a personal bond with the company and the team.

Following up with a welcome gift – ideally, something branded and relevant, and with a personal note – shows you’re excited and happy to have them on the team.

Administrative paperwork can be handled electronically before their first report day. This  gets it out of the way and lets them know the company is already involved in their success.

All essential technology should be delivered in plenty of time for them to get set up and oriented. This should be accompanied by clear set-up instructions and a contact for any support. A personal follow-up by their supervisor confirming receipt of all the above tees up the best possible first day.

2. First Day & First Week

The remote employee should be welcomed by their supervisor on the first day, and that welcome should be the first thing on their schedule. The supervisor is that employee’s lifeline in their new situation, and best positioned to handle any miscues or gaps in the process.

The supervisor should explain the schedule for the day and week ahead and the intention of each event. This sense of order and engagement gives them a dynamic they can plug into, rather than feeling they have to make everything happen on their own.

If paperwork still needs to be handled, get that out of the way. Then have brief virtual meet-and-greets scheduled with every relevant colleague. If practical, these should include the most senior executive of the company available for a quick introduction, to let them know their position is important and their arrival matters. The last of these virtual meetings should be a longer orientation (usually with HR) to review company policies, benefits, and administrative resources. Even if technology was successfully delivered before the first day, the supervisor should double check to make sure the employee has all the technology and tools they need.

Lastly, the new employee should meet with their supervisor again to lay out the long-term, intermediate, and immediate goals and expectations for their role. By working back to their upcoming tasks, new employees can better understand how their work fits into the entire business.

3. First Month & Beyond

That first day, their manager should schedule regular (usually weekly) 1:1 meetings with the new hire as a golden thread tying them into a future together. With that in place, the new hire should participate in any necessary training  for their new role with a clear completion date established.

A daily manager check-in is recommended, even if it’s just a quick message asking how they’re doing. The 1:1 meetings will assure deeper dives into any challenges they’re facing. Each week should include formal debriefs with all their critical collaborators, as a group or individually. Ideally, your company also has a schedule of virtual social events the new hire can join immediately. Otherwise, such a schedule should be established to promote team cohesion regardless of where team members are located.

If your company offers recurrent training, make sure your virtual employee knows about it. Build out a 30, 60, and 90-day plan for how to engage your remote staff as thoroughly as possible. Tasking colleagues – including remote ones – with planning team events helps engage them in a meaningful way.

Tools for Remote Onboarding

With remote and hybrid workstyles becoming common, most people are now familiar with the tools that enable it. But which tools and how people use them vary from company to company. Here are some examples:

  • Video conferencing and communication platforms (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Slack) Virtual platforms such as Teams facilitate calls, meetings, quick messages, file sharing and informal chats to help your onboarding.
  • Project management (e.g., Wrike, Freedcamp) A collaborative workflow system is a good idea under any circumstances. For onboarding remote personnel, it gives real structure to where to expect assignments and how to deliver them.
  • Document sharing and collaboration (e.g., Google Drive, SharePoint) Depending on how you manage your workflow, you’ll need a way to move larger files around and a central repository for assets. This not only simplifies remote workflows, but gives remote staff one more shared space to remind them they’re part of the team.

Best Practices for Remote Onboarding and Beyond

You may have noticed that each of the recommendations above are best practices for onboarding generally, only here being executed virtually. The key is remembering that if your company has practices unique to your organization that help new hires get settled more quickly, you should find a way to do the same thing virtually.

A major difference between in-person and remote onboarding is the different effort required to build team and comradery in a virtual setting. That effort is well worth it to have your pick of the best talent available anywhere in the world.

By setting expectations and tone early on, building relationships and fostering a sense of belonging, offering ongoing support and feedback mechanisms, and effectively using technology to streamline the process, you can enjoy the benefits of each successful remote onboarding for years to come.

Solvo drives business growth by connecting North American companies with exceptional remote workers and AI-powered tools. Our unique nearshoring model ensures efficient collaboration in the same time zone, reducing turnover, and driving cost efficiencies. With a focus on fostering a great work environment, Solvo is dedicated to attracting top talent, ensuring our partners never have to choose between cost and quality.   

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