Since Covid, the number of companies that have gone fully or partially remote has skyrocketed. With that new trend, HR managers have found themselves needing to adapt to a new way of onboarding, one that feels very foreign to them: Remote onboarding.
And since the onboarding process is so closely linked to employee retention, half-assing remote onboarding isn’t a choice. I know change is hard, but if you resist, you’re gonna lose some awesome talent.
As a company that’s been fully remote since the very start in 2014, we’re experts in remote onboarding, and we want to impart our wisdom to you so you can put together the best process possible for your remote new hires.
In this article, we’ll cover what remote onboarding is, its benefits and challenges, and the best practices to make sure you get it right!
And I even included a free remote onboarding template just for you. 😉
Remote onboarding refers to the process of welcoming and integrating new employees into a company, without the need for physical proximity or face-to-face interactions.
In today’s digital age, where remote work is becoming increasingly popular, organizations are recognizing the importance of effective onboarding programs for remote teams.
Remote onboarding is designed to provide new hires with all the necessary tools, resources, and information they need to quickly adapt to their new role and become productive members of the team. It involves facilitating a seamless transition into the company’s virtual environment, where employees have the flexibility to work from anywhere in the world.
Unlike traditional onboarding, which typically takes place in a physical office setting, remote onboarding requires a different approach. It leverages various communication technologies, project management tools, and video conferencing software to connect new hires with their managers, colleagues, and necessary resources.
One of the key goals of remote onboarding is to create a sense of belonging and establish a strong company culture, even in a virtual setting. Organizations often use virtual meetings and training sessions to introduce new employees to their company’s values, mission, and core beliefs.
Additionally, providing them with company swag can help foster a sense of pride and identity within the remote workforce.
A well-planned remote onboarding program takes into account the unique needs and challenges of remote employees. It may include pre-boarding activities to familiarize new hires with company processes and expectations before their official start date.
By providing access to benefits portals and career path resources, organizations can ensure that remote employees have the necessary support to thrive in their roles.
The process of onboarding remote employees is, thankfully, not that complicated. At least, it doesn’t need to be. We can take all the elements of remote onboarding and break them down into five easy steps. Let’s dive into them:
If you want the onboarding process to go smoothly, don’t skimp on the paperwork.
Really, this should be done before the new hire’s first day. Confirm you have all of their basic information, including:
Once you have all the basic information, you can prepare the necessary documents you need to have completed such as:
Having all the information and forms squared away means that you can focus more on the new hire on their first day. It also shows the employee that you are organized and generally on top of things, which helps them feel more comfortable as they get started.
Not getting all the paperwork done before the first day can delay and derail parts of the onboarding process, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to make sure it’s done and done correctly before the start date.
Okay, so now it’s your new hire’s first day. It should be made clear to them before Day 1 what they need to do on their first day. This can be done via email, and it’s how I knew what I needed to do on my first day at Process Street.
I was given my onboarding workflow, so I knew what I needed to do before I even had a call with anyone. Workflows are an excellent tool for remote onboarding, but I’ll dive into them a bit later.
That first day is crucial as you want to make a good impression on your employee and make them feel welcome.
Spending the time to make your new hire feel welcome and setting them up so they understand their first tasks right away will make the best possible first impression.
Every new hire should get a mentor. It could be someone in their own department or someone in a completely different department. The mentor is there to be a friend to the new hire. They are a great help in getting the new hire adjusted to the company culture and easing any doubts they have overall.
From the jump, you should be scheduling calls between the new hire and their mentor. The calls between them should generally skew to be more casual and social since there will be plenty of time for professionalism as the ball gets rolling.
Though I was brought on as a content writer, my mentor was a RevOps analyst. We had no overlap in our day-to-day work, but I always looked forward to my weekly 30-minute call with my mentor. We spent very little time talking about work and spent most of it talking about our lives, and it was so nice to have that little bit of social connection. Even though I am now long past onboarding, we still hop on calls here and there just to hang out.
Remember, remote employees get lonely. Giving them a friend and someone to confide in will increase their overall satisfaction with the onboarding process and their job as a whole.
After about a week, your new hire should be ready for their first project. What that project is and the scope of it is entirely up to you, the employee, and what their role is.
It’s your job to ensure that the new hire has a complete understanding of what the project is and when it needs to be finished. After the project is completed and approved by the new hire’s manager, it’s a good idea to hop on a call and deliver feedback. Let the employee know what they did well and where they could improve.
Additionally, make sure to ask the employee for feedback. Were the instructions for the project clear enough? Were they given enough time to complete it? Did everything go smoothly or did they run into bottlenecks?
Getting the new hire’s feedback is a great way to help you stick to a model of continuous improvement.
Finally, as the remote onboarding process draws to a close, you need to establish check-in points with the new hire so you can make sure everything continues smoothly as they get adjusted to their new job.
What these check-ins are and how frequently you do them is entirely up to you. We recommend doing them for at least a month. They can come in the form of a weekly email, bi-weekly call, or whatever works best for your organization. The point is to make sure your new hire never feels abandoned.
To help put all of this together, we have a free remote onboarding workflow template, which you can customize in whatever way suits you best.
Take a look at it below!
Remote onboarding offers several benefits for both employees and organizations. By embracing this virtual approach, companies can tap into a wider talent pool and recruit top talent from anywhere in the world. Here are some key benefits of remote onboarding:
Remote onboarding allows new hires to adapt to their new roles in a way that suits their schedules and lifestyles. Whether they are located in a different time zone or need to balance personal responsibilities, remote onboarding provides the flexibility to learn at their own pace.
Traditional onboarding often involves travel expenses, such as transportation, accommodation, and meals. By eliminating the need for face-to-face meetings and physical materials, remote onboarding significantly reduces costs for both employees and organizations. Additionally, time spent commuting to and from the office can be saved, giving new hires more time to acclimate to their roles.
Remote onboarding programs can be designed to foster a greater sense of engagement and connection among new hires. Virtual meetings and collaboration tools provide opportunities for interaction, enabling employees to build relationships with their colleagues and managers despite the physical distance. This engagement translates into higher job satisfaction, productivity, and retention rates.
With the virtual onboarding process, remote hires have access to a wealth of information and resources at their fingertips. By utilizing project management tools, training sessions, and online documentation, organizations can ensure that employees have everything they need to succeed in their roles. These resources can be easily accessed and revisited, allowing employees to refresh their knowledge as they need it.
Remote onboarding can help new hires seamlessly integrate into their teams and the company culture. Virtual introductions, team meetings, and buddy systems can be implemented to ensure that new employees feel welcome and supported from day one. By creating a positive and inclusive onboarding experience, organizations can establish a strong foundation for long-term employee satisfaction and loyalty.
Now, just because remote onboarding is full of benefits, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come without its fair share of challenges.
There’s a lot of pressure to get the remote onboarding process right. The costs associated with losing and replacing top talent range from $30,000-$45,000. So let’s take a look at some of the challenges and how to overcome them.
One major challenge is the lack of face-to-face interaction, which can make it difficult for newcomers to build relationships and establish a sense of connection with their colleagues. This can lead to feelings of isolation and hinder the development of a strong company culture.
Another challenge is the effective communication of information and expectations. Without the luxury of in-person training sessions and informal conversations, remote onboarding relies heavily on communication technology such as video conferencing software and messaging tools.
However, communication challenges may arise, such as technical difficulties, miscommunication, or delays in response time, which can hinder the onboarding process and create frustrations for both the new employee and the team.
Additionally, remote onboarding may lack the same level of structure and guidance as traditional onboarding. Without the physical presence of mentors or supervisors, newcomers may experience a sense of confusion or lack of direction in navigating their roles and understanding company processes.
Furthermore, remote onboarding also requires individuals to navigate a remote work environment, which may present its own set of challenges. This includes being self-disciplined, managing time effectively, and finding ways to create a productive workspace at home.
Remote onboarding can be a challenging process, but with proper planning and execution, you can avoid common mishaps and ensure a smooth transition for new hires. Here are some tips to help you navigate the remote onboarding experience successfully:
Effective communication is crucial for remote onboarding. Ensure that all communication tools, such as video conferencing software and messaging platforms, are set up and properly functioning before the onboarding process begins. Encourage open lines of communication and provide guidelines on how and when to reach out to team members and supervisors.
Remote new hires may feel overwhelmed and uncertain about their roles. To alleviate this, provide comprehensive onboarding materials that include detailed information about the company, their role, goals, and expectations. This can be in the form of videos, documents, or interactive online modules.
Assigning a buddy or mentor to new hires can help them navigate the remote environment more smoothly. This person can serve as a point of contact for any questions or concerns and provide guidance and support during the onboarding process. This connection can also help combat feelings of isolation.
Regular check-ins and feedback sessions are essential for monitoring the progress of new hires and addressing any concerns or issues that may arise. Schedule virtual meetings or one-on-one sessions to provide guidance, answer questions, and offer constructive feedback. This will help new hires feel supported and connected.
Working in a remote setting can often lead to feelings of isolation. Take steps to foster a sense of belonging and inclusion by organizing virtual team-building activities, virtual social events, or online forums where employees can connect and engage with each other.
Encouraging participation in company-wide programs or initiatives can also help new hires feel part of the larger remote team.
Remote onboarding should not be limited to just the initial weeks or months. Offer ongoing training and development opportunities to help new hires continually grow and enhance their skills. This can be in the form of virtual training sessions, webinars, or online courses that align with their roles and career aspirations.
To continuously improve your remote onboarding process, seek feedback from new hires on their experience. Ask for their suggestions on how to enhance the process or if there are any areas that need improvement. This feedback can provide valuable insights and help shape future onboarding programs.
When it comes to remote onboarding, having the right tools in place can make all the difference. Here are 10 top tools that work well for remote onboarding.
Official website link: Process Street
Process Street is a no-code business process management platform that allows you to streamline processes and improve operational efficiency by creating, automating, and tracking checklists. They make it easy by offering an AI-powered interface that’s as easy to use as telling the software what you want it to do for you. Setting up a remote onboarding process has literally never been easier.
Businesses looking to streamline their approval processes while leveraging the power of AI.
Process Street pricing page.
Official website link: Asana
Asana is a project management platform designed to streamline team collaboration and task organization. It empowers teams to work efficiently, communicate effectively, and achieve their goals seamlessly.
Perfect for project management teams that prefer Agile methodologies.
Asana pricing page.
Official website link: ClickUp
ClickUp is an all-in-one project management platform that empowers teams to streamline workflows, communicate effectively, and stay organized. Its user-friendly interface and wide range of integrations make it a go-to solution for seamless collaboration and productivity.
Great for Agile teams looking to automate product lifecycle management.
ClickUp pricing plan.
Official website link: Kissflow
Kissflow is a business process management software tool that simplifies workflow automation and enables organizations to build custom applications without coding. It allows teams to streamline their processes, optimize efficiency, and drive better productivity across the entire organization.
Good for Agile business process management.
Kissflow pricing plan.
Official website link: Smartsheet
Smartsheet is a versatile and collaborative work management platform that empowers teams to plan, track, automate, and report on work-related tasks and projects. It enables seamless coordination, real-time visibility, and streamlined communication, helping businesses achieve greater efficiency and drive successful outcomes.
Smartsheet is ideal for businesses looking to streamline document approval for projects.
Smartsheet pricing page.
Remote onboarding doesn’t have to be a nightmare. So long as you take the time to put together a process that makes things easy for the new hire, you will be just fine. We believe in you!