5 Ways to Implement Effective Remote Onboarding

By Jason Richmond, CEO & Chief Culture Officer at Ideal Outcomes, Inc. 

How can you bring new employees on board when everyone is working from home? What should you bear in mind running a business in a remote environment?

The purpose for onboarding employees remotely or face-to-face is to help new hires reinforce their decision that they made the right decision of coming to work for you while acclimating to your organization, its culture, the work environment, your expectations. If onboarding is remote, you want them to feel welcomed and appreciated even if you can’t physically shake their hand and walk them through the office for personal introductions to their teammates. 

We are fortunate to have the technology and tools to make the face-to-face experience come to life even when employees are all working from home. Here are five straightforward ways to kick off your onboarding and make it memorable. 
  1. Plan ahead. Make sure employees have equipment such as laptops, headsets, or phones at least a couple days before their start date. This allows them to test logins, set up passwords, voice mail, and access whatever remote platform you use. 

  2. Don’t make onboarding about paperwork. Use online signature tools as much as possible and complete such paperwork in advance if it is legal to do so. 

  3. Send swag. Who doesn’t like company swag? One way to help a new hire feel connected to the team is by sending a shirt or that they can wear on day one, especially if they are going to be on camera.

  4. Create a virtual walkthrough. Employees are going to be naturally curious about the office they may not have not been able to see. Create a short virtual tour of your headquarters and field locations. You can make this fun and challenging by creating a short “scavenger hunt” where you give employees a list of unusual things to watch for. (Think about the “I Spy” car game.) If you are doing virtual onboarding in groups, employees can raise their hands or note in a chat box when they spy one of the items on the list. 

  5. Make the experience interactive. Nobody wants to be lectured to. Involve them in conversation not only with the onboarding leader, but also with each other. Plan an icebreaker so that they can get to know other new employees and also the people they will work with. If you have a fairly large group and your platform allows it, set up some break out discussions. 
Finally, don’t forget, Day One is just that—an introduction to your whole onboarding process. Develop checklists with managers so that they continue this process over time and make sure they set up a regular schedule to cover goals and expectations. They can also arrange a support system, making sure experienced co-workers reach out to new people on a regular basis. When everyone is remote, it is easy for employees with established relationships to keep in touch, but managers must take the lead in building teamwork and camaraderie across their entire teams, and especially newcomers. A formal system coupled with random chats can help everyone get to know each other. 

Experiment and see what works best with your environment. Survey folks to see what they like and ask them for their ideas on how to enhance the experience. You will find people adapt to an online presence quite quickly if you make the effort to help them adjust.