Remote Onboarding: Success From the Start!

January 3, 2022
Sandy Epperson

Onboarding has always been essential to new employee productivity, engagement and retention.  Having just-hired employees feel knowledgeable, welcome and plugged in to the organization is a best practice and total win-win.  Today, with so many beginning remote employment away from a physical office, getting the traditional in-person onboarding process successfully altered for the new virtual workforce is critical.  This process sets the tone for the employee’s entire time with the organization.  A couple key points on remote onboarding:


Technology should be readily available and used effectively as it is the lifeline of remote employment.  Ensure that the employee is set up on or near their first day with the appropriate hardware, software, and needed apps to be efficient and productive and collaborate with team members as needed.  Seize on the exuberance a new employee has hit the ground running in their new job!  A big delay in establishing this technology may lead to significant downtime for your new employee and sends a message that proper planning for their arrival did not occur.  Additionally, try to have digital versions of all new hire documents (payroll, handbooks, tax forms, etc), to ease the process during the initial orientation period.


Because you may not be taking your new hire from office to office or having them meet co-workers in the break room or at company events, it is important to be very purposeful in how you are connecting your remote new hire to employees they should know.  An onboarding outline should be prepared for each new hire that hits on important policies, processes and procedures as well as introductions to department or function leaders and useful collaborators.  Additionally, there are opportunities to use any digital media during an onboarding such as company overview or job-specific training videos.


During an onboarding, all employees should gain an understanding of the company culture.  It is important for the new hire to have an exposure, albeit virtual, to how work gets done and for the company norms to be discussed in an interactive way.  This includes allowing the new employee to ask questions so that they get a good sense of how the company and those within it operate.


This can’t be stressed enough.  Any new hire can feel distant and disconnected when they begin a new job.  With remote employees, this could be heightened.  It is important to communicate often with your remote hire to check in on their progress with getting acclimated to their new position.  Asking them if they have any questions demonstrates genuine concern for their success and can elevate productivity.  In addition to a supervisor checking in, it may also be beneficial to have a peer check in on progress as well.  It is also very important during the onboarding period that expectations are communicated so the new employee has a good sense of what results are expected and how they are to evaluated.  Connecting the new hire’s specific work to the overall goals of the business makes a helpful connection good for individual and business success.