A Guide to Onboarding Employees Remotely

Here are steps you can follow to make your virtual onboarding process smooth, efficient, and welcoming.

a-guide-to-onboarding-employees-remotely
How to make your onboarding process virtual and help new employees find success

The pandemic has upended many of our traditional business processes — including employee onboarding.

Onboarding employees is more important now than ever before because new hires can’t socialize in an office the way they once could.

Now that many small businesses that were closed during the pandemic are beginning to reopen (or are at least thinking about it), chances are you’ll still have to onboard employees remotely in order to get your workforce ready to hit the ground running when opening day arrives. For those new to the remote onboarding process, here is a guide to the basics of onboarding employees remotely.

Invest in tech tools that streamline remote paperwork

Tools from HelloSign, DocuSign, and Adobe Sign are designed to make signing official documents remotely a secure and easy process. Considering the amount of official paperwork required to onboard an employee, investment in apps and tools that make signing paperwork remotely a cinch. It will save both you and your new hires all kinds of stress. This is especially true considering that no one has a fax machine at home. In addition, places like FedEx Office are closed or at least operating with reduced hours.

Pro top: Onboard employees without the paperwork by using Zenefits.  

Ensure equipment and other necessities arrive on time

Since handing things off in person isn’t happening much these days, you’ll want to make sure employees get all of the necessary equipment they need to do their job before their first day.

From laptops to employee handbooks, there are all sorts of equipment and other necessities that are typically handed to a new employee on their first day. Since handing things off in person isn’t happening much these days, you’ll want to make sure employees get all of the necessary equipment they need to do their job before their first day. This way they’re ready to hit the ground running when it comes to the remote onboarding process.

Not only does this give your newest employees the tools they need to adequately do their job, but it also shows that even though they’re out of sight, they’re certainly not out of mind. Gestures like this alone can go a long way in making a remote employee feel included and important.

Schedule tech support

Rather than let a small snag derail the entire process, be sure to have tech support lined up to address issues as they pop up.

Chances are your new hires are going to get stuck at some point of the remote onboarding process. That’s just the way things go with technology. Rather than let a small snag derail the entire process, be sure to have tech support lined up to address issues as they pop up. This allows everything from getting email going to signing those important documents you bought software for to go off without a hitch.

Find ways to make them feel welcome from home

This is perhaps the biggest struggle when it comes to onboarding employees remotely. There’s plenty you can do in person to introduce someone to their new job, from making introductions to new coworkers to pointing out where to get coffee and favorite lunch spots near the office. That gets trickier when everyone is working from home, so why not put together a little “welcome to the team” care package. You can stuff it with everything from company swag to a gift card for lunch on their first day since you can’t take them out remotely.

When it comes to making a new employee feel welcome from home, it’s the thought that counts. It shows that you’re thinking about them and are concerned with making sure their onboarding process is not only effective but welcoming as well.

Create remote opportunities for socializing

Consider assigning a “buddy” whose only job is to help them get acclimated and integrated.
Gone (at least temporarily) are the days of team happy hours, team building activities, and other social events that help coworkers bond with each other outside of work proper. That said, there are still things you can do to help new employees:

  • Consider assigning a “buddy” whose job is to help them get acclimated and integrated into the company
  • Make sure they’re invited to relevant group chats
  • Do a remote team building activity like trivia or a happy hour where everyone joins with their own beverage — alcoholic or not — from home

It’s pretty impossible to completely replace in person connections, but it’s worthwhile to give it your best shot until your new hires can be in the office again.

Be clear about remote work expectations

Setting clear expectations for remote work practices and policies upfront is a good way to go. Doing so is especially crucial if those you are hiring are new to the workforce or new to remote work. This way, it’ll be really clear what’s expected from them — how available should they be and on what channels and the like. It’ll also make it easier for them to start off on the right foot.

It can be tough to know what makes a new boss happy in general, even more so when starting remotely. Clear expectations will help your new hires start off on the right foot. That’s kind of the whole point of onboarding in the first place, right?

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