Remote Onboarding Process: Our Top Tricks and Tips to Get It Right

This is a guest post by Adela Belin, a content marketer, and blogger at Writers Per Hour. She is passionate about sharing stories with the hope to make a difference in people’s lives and contribute to their personal and professional growth.

Remote Onboarding Process Our Top Tricks and Tips to Get It Right

After hundreds of applications, weeding out the good from the bad, and a series of interviews, you’ve finally found the right candidate for the role – you extend the offer, initiate the paperwork and that’s it, your work here is done.

But is it?

If your company’s recruitment process is as simple as the above, then you’re missing out on an important step – onboarding.

Neglecting your employee onboarding processes is something you cannot afford to do, especially in a remote set up.

Employee onboarding, also known as new-employee orientation or assimilation, is the process by which an organization assimilates its new employees.” – SHRM, Managing the Employee Onboarding and Assimilation Process

In this Process Street article, we take a deep dive into a specific type of onboarding process. We will explain how you can perfect your remote onboarding process, wherein a new hire undergoes a set of formal meetings, briefings, socialization, training, and a series of other coordinated activities to get familiar with the remote job role, responsibilities, and overall company culture.

Having an effective employee onboarding process builds loyalty and engagement, improves productivity, and delivers a positive work experience. With that said, you can see how taking the time to perfect your onboarding processes is vital to nurture talent within your remote team.

If you’d rather skip ahead, just click on the relevant subheaders below. Alternatively, scroll down to read all we have to say regarding remote onboarding processes.

Let’s get started!

Remote onboarding process for employee onboarding (free checklist)

This employee onboarding checklist is designed to help managers and HR cover all the necessary steps to effectively incorporate a new hire into their position.

To help you execute an effective employee onboarding process, we at Process Street have created our Employee Onboarding Checklist, a carefully designed series of steps that will help your new hire fit right into their role.

Click here to access our Employee Onboarding Checklist!

You can edit and adapt this checklist to suit your specific needs. For more information on how to do this, watch the below video: Basics of Creating and Editing Templates.

Process Street is superpowered checklists.

That means each Process Street checklist is a powerful tool with the following advanced features at your disposal:

For more information about Process Street and what we offer, this webinar is a great starting point: An Introduction to Process Street.

The importance of onboarding for a remote team

Remote work comes with unique challenges. Unlike a traditional office environment, there is no opportunity for face-to-face interaction. People are spread across time zones, making it extremely important to maintain open and timely communication.

Keeping this in mind, how can companies expect new hires to instantly warm up to the culture and way of working? This is where a strong remote employee onboarding process comes into the picture.

Here are 3 reasons why establishing effective onboarding processes for a remote team is important:

  • Employee retention: Most new hires decide to stick around an organization or not within the first few months of joining a company. It is therefore extremely important to make sure new hires are well-accepted into the team. This is especially true for new hires of remote teams because they might develop a sense of isolation. A well-planned onboarding process is therefore necessary for remote hiring.
  • Builds bonds for happier employees: Onboarding is the first opportunity a new hire has to get to know their peers and colleagues. These bonds can turn into strong friendships over time. Employees who are happy at the workplace are more engaged with a high productivity rate. A study revealed that 70% of employees feel happy and connected when they have friendly colleagues at work.
  • Promotes accountability: Remote hiring is successful only when the new hires are aware of their job responsibilities and accountability. A clear and well-defined onboarding process should address this issue. It helps the new employee align with the new role, understand the job process, imparts necessary training, and helps the employee understand job accountability.

Why use a process for remote employee onboarding?

Remote onboarding

Did you know that companies lose 25% of all their new hires within a year? The last thing you want is for the candidate to excitedly accept the job offer only to realize the company seems nothing like what he/she signed up for.

To avoid such a scenario, it’s always better to adopt a consistent remote onboarding process and make it standard practice.

A formal and structured onboarding process helps engage employees which is extremely important for remote workers as the chances of feeling left out are higher. Such processes will boost the morale of recruits and helps develop a sense of belonging.

What is an onboarding process?

An onboarding process is a set of actions or steps taken to give a new employee the necessary skills and knowledge for them to succeed in their role.

It also paves the way for clearer employee communication, ensuring everyone is on the same page while leaving less room for miscommunication.

How to onboard your remote employees

How to onboard your remote employee

A lot of companies are under the impression that employees will learn on the job or that a company presentation is enough to onboard new hires. None of this is true.

A solid remote onboarding process is more than a simple orientation or a one-day activity. It begins before hiring the candidate and extends for a couple of months.

Let’s take a look at how you can develop a successful and consistent remote onboarding process, from start to finish, to ensure your employees are happy and productive.

Onboarding remote employees, step #1: Pre-onboarding

According to an Aberdeen survey, 83% of the highest performing organizations began onboarding before the new hire’s first day on the job.

Pre-onboarding is the period between accepting the job offer and the new hire’s first day of work. During this period, the new hire will likely be anxious and may even have second thoughts.

As a company, it’s your responsibility to ease this transition by making the new hire feel welcome, heard, and cared for. Here are 4 key ways to establish a smooth pre-onboarding process.

Step 1: Create an employee handbook for new hires

Look at employee handbooks as a comprehensive user manual for employees. This manual should include everything your company is about while reinforcing core values and culture.

The purpose of sharing a well-written employee handbook is to streamline onboarding, set expectations, and also get new hires excited about their new role.

Make sure you include the following elements in your employee handbook:

  1. The company vision, mission, and core values
  2. A letter from the CEO or founder
  3. Information around the company’s history
  4. The company and remote work policies

While including these elements is vital, what’s equally important is presenting that information in an engaging manner that compels the new hire to read it. Use visuals to emphasize information and break down large paragraphs of text with subheadings and bullet points.

An employee handbook should not be written in stone and needs to be updated regularly.

Here’s a creative example of an employee handbook by Trello. It’s interesting to note how they’ve used their platform to share this information, with a dedicated section for remote employees.

Remote employee onboarding - Trello example

Step 2: Share the essential documents and forms

You don’t have to wait for the first day of work to get started on the paperwork. Use this time to get the formalities out of the way.

From the employee contract, tax, and payroll forms to employee benefits documents – send new hires all the relevant documents before their first day of work. You can use an e-signature tool such as DocuSign, Adobe Sign, or Panda Doc.

Every country has different tax specifications for remote workers so make sure you abide by those laws while collating the paperwork.

Step 3: Write a company-wide welcome email

In a remote working environment, chances are your current team won’t even know when a new employee gets hired.

It’s always advisable to send out a company-wide email welcoming new hires. Not only does this keep everyone in the loop, but it also lets you introduce the new employee while throwing light on their skills and experience.

Step 4: Send out a welcome kit

Handing out a welcome kit and showing the employee his new desk is normal in a regular office setting. But how do you welcome a remote employee?

With a little bit of planning, you can send out a welcome kit to his home that may include work essentials like a notebook, a pen, or a company T-shirt. Alternatively, you can also share a welcome voucher that the employee can use to set up his virtual home office.

remote onboarding - onboarding kit

Onboarding remote employees, step #2: Pre-onboarding

The first 1-2 weeks from when an employee first joins is the most crucial period for onboarding. Communicate well so the person is well-informed on what to expect for the day.

Encourage one-on-one meetings with the reporting manager

A recruit needs to build a rapport with his reporting manager, which is all the more important when working remotely. Hence, encourage scheduling a one-on-one introductory meeting between the new hire and the reporting manager.

Let it be short but meaningful. Remember, you shouldn’t be overwhelming the employee on the first day.

Introduce your new hire to the team

Plan and schedule a formal meeting to introduce the new hires to the team. This could be done through video conferences or using communication tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams.

Here is an example of how employees of Doist welcome their new team members.

Doist employee welcome

Get creative and create a light and fun-filled environment.

For example, let each team member introduce himself/herself through a one-line caption. Or play a game of 2 truths and 1 lie, where a team member has to tell 2 truths and 1 lie about themselves and others have to guess.

Pair them up with a mentor

In a regular office setup, recruits are usually sitting next to their peers so they can ask a question anytime they are stuck. Remote working is different.

With no one around, one doesn’t know whom they should reach out to if they have questions. Having a mentor works as a perfect solution. An employee who has spent some time in the organization but is not the reporting manager is the best-suited person to be a mentor.

A mentor can handhold for the initial few months to help the new hire understand the process and the work culture.

Arrange training sessions

Regular training sessions help remote employees feel included, break the monotony of working in isolation and help them better manage expectations.

Familiarize the new employee with remote working tools

Needless to say, your remote employee will work better when they have access to all the remote working tools. So, make a list of all the tools you use such as Trello, Slack, Zoom, or any others, and create how-to guides for each of them.

Make sure you include credentials and other useful information such as the communication purpose and guidelines for each tool.

Onboarding remote employees, step #2: Pre-onboarding

As a best practice, keep in touch with your employees even after the onboarding process is over. This helps to build a positive employer-employee relationship.

Check-in with them

Your job doesn’t end once your employee has been fully onboarded. You need to check in with them from time to time and understand their experience. Talk to them to gather information for whether or not they need support, and how, in general, they feel about working in a remote team.

You should ensure that your remote employees are happy and engaged to minimize employee turnover.

Get feedback on your onboarding process

Finally, devise a mechanism to get feedback on your onboarding process. This is extremely important to find out what is working and what is not. Use this information to make refinements to create an amazing remote workforce for your organization.

Workflow automation: Use Process Street to automate your remote employee onboarding processes

Workflow automation is the automation of a series of tasks and steps, used to improve everyday business processes. The aim of workflow automation is for the user to get more done so that they can focus on other tasks.

After setting up your remote hiring and onboarding process, you can automate the simple repetitive tasks with Process Street, making onboarding easier and flawless for your team.

For instance, you can automate approval requirements from a single user, or use forms to collect data to produce full reports. The tool also enables you to keep track of your team’s progress and helps in easy collaboration.

For more information on workflow automation in Process Street, watch the below video!

Use Process Street for effective onboarding of your remote team

Creating a successful remote onboarding process might sound to be a herculean task but having a systematic step-by-step approach can help you build a robust remote workforce over time.

Amidst the pandemic, when social distancing and remote working is going to be the new normal, having a successful remote onboarding process in place will certainly help you connect with your remote employees and keep them better engaged.

Do you have any sage advice for a company figuring out remote onboarding for the first time? Perhaps something you wish you knew sooner? Let us know in the comments, and you may get featured in an upcoming article!

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Jane Courtnell

Hi there, I am a Junior Content Writer at Process Street. I graduated in Biology, specializing in Environmental Science at Imperial College London. During my degree, I developed an enthusiasm for writing to communicate environmental issues. I continued my studies at Imperial College's Business School, and with this, my writing progressed looking at sustainability in a business sense. When I am not writing I enjoy being in the mountains, running and rock climbing. Follow me at @JaneCourtnell.

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