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Best practices for onboarding a remote employee

Posted by Neha De

October 1, 2021

Remote work has gone from being the exception to becoming a norm, largely in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This has made complete virtual onboarding of new employees a necessity. 

Onboarding new staff members remotely is no easy feat. Companies have come up with innovative ways to welcome their new employees. For example, Dell has placed all of their onboarding materials in a digital format, including a website, documentation and video. Stack Overflow sets up a series of orientation calls between all new hires  and all members of the executive team. They also assign a mentor for the new employees. 

Building a robust onboarding process is essential to developing a productive, cohesive and engaged workforce. Yet, according to a Gallup study, only 12% of employees believe that their company does a good job onboarding new employees.

Best practices for seamless virtual onboarding

Research shows that almost half of employees quit within the first 18 months of employment. Onboarding plays a huge role in retaining staff members because it helps set them up for success from day one. 

Check out these four remote onboarding techniques you can use to make sure new hires have a smooth landing in their new roles: 
  1. Come up with a step-by-step remote onboarding plan

    – The virtual onboarding plan should be concise and well documented; you should be able to share it with anyone, regardless of job title. An effective remote onboarding plan can include the following:
  • A list of items the new hire can look at before their first day, such as a welcome email that gives them a deeper insight into the organization,tax and insurance documents, payroll and an overview of what their first week or month will entail.
  • A document that introduces them to their login and security information, software and tools they will be using, the orientation schedule and a list of relevant team members’ contact information.
  • Reporting managers can schedule one-on-one sessions with the new hires, to share information about the company and their team. They can also get them up to speed on existing projects or anything else they deem necessary to make the employee feel welcome. 
  • Create a space for the new hires to access online manuals, training tools and other relevant materials so they can reference them when needed.
  1. Set expectations upfront

    – Lay out the expectations for new employees before their first day. With a clear picture of their roles and responsibilities in addition to what is expected of them, they will not be confused when they join and will not end up asking too many questions (still, be open to answering any questions).

  2. The best way to communicate expectations is by scheduling time for training, reviews and check-ins. One-on-one time with their reporting manager on a weekly or bi-weekly basis can also go a long way in easing things for the new hires. Make the new staff members understand about company values, their responsibilities, team goals as well as their individual objectives, and projects they will work on.

    Also, ensure that the new employees have all necessary tools, software, applications and the like they will need to do their work. Don’t forget to give them access to the entire documentation of the onboarding process for reference during their first few weeks.
  1. Develop a connection from the start

    – Remote employees can feel isolated and lost at times. They often don’t know who to turn for questions, feedback and checking in. To combat this issue, consider giving new hires a buddy or mentor who they can go to with any questions and who can help them get acquainted with their new role. According to research by Harvard Business Review, “56% of new hires who met with their onboarding buddy at least once in their first 90 days indicated that their buddy helped them to quickly become productive in their role.”
  1. Identify milestones

    – A successful remote onboarding plan should also identify milestones that new employees can use as guidance. Their direct managers can use these milestones to gauge an employee’s progress and how well they are blending with the team.

  2. Also, lay out an approximate timeline for all milestones in order to give them the motivation and structure to stay productive during the first month of their employment.


Neha De
Neha De

Neha De is a writer and editor with more than 13 years of experience. She has worked on a variety of genres and platforms, including books, magazine articles, blog posts and website copy. She is passionate about producing clear and concise content that is engaging and informative. In her spare time, Neha enjoys dancing, running and spending time with her family.

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