5 Key Tips for Onboarding Employees Remotely

We’ve established in the past that remote hiring is different. The dynamics of successfully hiring the right talent require efforts that involve writing a succinct job description and acing every aspect that showcases your brand. Another key aspect of hiring remotely is onboarding your new hires without seeing them face to face. With the COVID-19 crisis taking over globally, regular, office-based companies face the same challenge of remotely onboarding new employees while everyone works from home. 

From speaking with countless fully and partially distributed companies, acework has gained insight to how different types of successful remote companies operate. We have seen that a strong foundation in terms of principles and processes are key to their success. In many companies, the People Operations team are responsible for building this foundation. They are the backbone of the company! They create and streamline processes while keeping the complexities of remote work in mind. This includes, among other things, culture building, learning and development, hiring and of course, onboarding. In addition, and depending on the size of the company, they also manage or support legal and financial teams to make sure the administrative wheels keep on turning. 

Why is onboarding such a key aspect of a new hire’s journey?

Building trust in remote teams really starts with creating a flawless onboarding experience. In addition to get your new employee up to speed quickly, it also leads to increased engagement levels, heightened productivity and decreased turnover in the long run. 

Research by Glassdoor found that organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82 percent and productivity by over 70 percent. 

The absence of a physical space to connect in,makes it crucial for distributed companies to chart out a detailed plan for onboarding a new hire. Communication is the key factor here. A detailed plan not only supports the new hire in the best possible way, but also streamlines the effort for all additional employees involved in the onboarding.  

Here are some of best practices for onboarding new hires from distributed companies globally:

1. Prepare all pre-onboarding tasks

 A well-informed new hire is productive from day 1. Therefore, setting up everything they need beforehand is critical in getting them up to speed quickly. Gitlab has concisely created a step-by-step guide on all the onboarding tasks for their US employees. It starts with collecting all required documents, G Suite logins and tax-related questions. They send a welcome kit and welcome email  two weeks before the new hire’s official start date. This already includes all details for their induction, training days, team manager and buddy information.he  It also gets the new employee familiarised with the remote culture, company values, vision, and mission.

In addition, it should also be part of the pre-onboarding process to get new hires set up with their hardware, including all pre-installed systems and tools. Finally, adding them to relevant slack channels before they start should be a part of the pre-onboarding task to ensure a warm welcome on their first day.

2. Deliver to-the-point orientation presentations

You might not be able to meet your new employee in person, but it’s important to take the time and involve several stakeholders in the onboarding. h. Helpscout does a great job in setting up an orientation presentation with the CEO, HR operation teams, key stakeholders from other departments, managers, and mentors. The goal must be to create an open and collaborative environment by introducing them to important points of contact. 

3. Draft a complete onboarding playbook 

For the engineering team at Zapier, People Operations have created a playbook that lays out in detail what the new hires first week will be like.It includes topics to cover and tasks to complete, as well as a less detailed game plan for the following couple weeks. The first few days are crucial to set up a new hire operationally by not just providing credentials, but also introducing them to the tools and technologies and how they are used at the company with their login credentials. They also schedule calls with various team members, including some with other departments.  

4. Create an onboarding team including managers, role buddies and culture buddies

Physically meeting your managers and team members doesn’t happen in a remote setup which is why it’s important to pair up new employees with buddy teams.  Buffer’s blog on welcoming new team members speaks of the importance of setting up an onboarding team that comprises managers, role buddies and culture buddies. Each of these teams come together to cover various aspects of the job role, culture, and any other day-to-day clarifications. The informal chats over breakfast and lunches can always be accompanied by food treats sent over by the companies as a part of their day 1 welcome kit.

5. Conduct surveys and check-ins 

Just as business needs change, so do the requirements for hiring and onboarding. To ensure quality, and to improve based on feedback, People Ops should regularly check in with new hires on their progress. Onboarding is an iterative process, and surveys play an important role in figuring out where to fine tune and where to change processes all together. To gain the necessary insight, People ops may conduct surveys and feedback conversations. These can be with both hiring managers and new hires and can be done after the first 30 and then again after 90 days, for example.

Building an engaged remote team takes careful planning and successful implementation basis the kind of remote company you are. The main goal of onboarding is to integrate a new hire into virtual space based on trust and cultural appreciation. A remote company that treats each process in the employee life cycle equally manages to create an environment for an employee to continuously thrive.

Want to learn more? Watch the recording of our webinar about remote onboarding here.

At acework, we support businesses in building successful distributed workforces with tailored remote advisory programs. The program enables teams by building custom remote strategies for companies based on their culture, processes and business needs. Schedule a free consultation during our office hours to learn more.

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