What is remote onboarding?

Remote employee onboarding or virtual onboarding is the process of letting new hires learn about the team and its members they'll be working with, the company and the values it endorses, the tools and practices they follow, and so on, remotely.

Onboarding, be it at the office or remote, is essential for the new employee. It helps the new hire bond with their team in particular and the company on the whole. It also gives them clarity and purpose, letting them know what their role is in the company's growth. They get to know about their goals, receive access to tools to help them achieve their goals, and set a career path for growth.

When done virtually, remote onboarding involves a lot of video calls and meetings. They e-meet their team members and other stakeholders, shadow them virtually, attend online training sessions, and receive virtual coaching from their manager. 
 

Why is remote employee onboarding important?

The objective of remote employee onboarding and regular onboarding remains the same; acclimatize the new employee with your company and set them up for success as early as possible, in a comfortable manner. 

The difference lies in the manner in which it is done. Regular onboarding happens in the office. The new employee gets to meet the team personally, hang out with them on coffee breaks and lunches, get the hang of the workplace. They get their onboarding goodies on their first day, receive access to the tools and applications, and get the hang of their new office. Managers meet them in person, help them understand their goals and their contribution to the company.

In remote employee onboarding, it isn't easy to provide the feel of the new office. The new employee is either working from home or a co-working space, away from the rest of their peers. They receive their special goodies much after their first day at work, and all their meetings, including casual conversations, are scheduled and done online. There is a lack of personal touch, and the new employee may feel isolated. It is crucial to invest time and resources in providing a great remote onboarding experience to your new employees to avoid the lack of personal bonding.

7 Best practices for virtual onboarding of a remote employee:

1: Get started with the admin tasks way ahead of day one.

Your new hire needs to have a great day at their new office and not be bogged down by paperwork. Send all the documents that need to be e-signed when they accept the offer and send onboarding checklists to the stakeholders. Ensure that they don’t have to worry about the paperwork on the first day; let them spend the day knowing about their new company and communicating with their peers.

Let your new hires know that you are fully equipped to onboard and work remotely. Provide access to all the tools and apps necessary to help them connect and work remotely.

2: Ensure that your company culture has adapted to remote ways of working

Remote working has become the norm only recently. Therefore, ensure that your company has adapted its culture to the new ways. For instance, if communication and collaboration are critical factors of your culture code, the way it has to be implemented now would change drastically in remote working. So, make amendments to your company culture accordingly.

3: Keep an onboarding handbook and a buddy ready for the newcomers

Let the new employees know about your company values, culture, the do’s and don’ts in a comprehensive way through an employee handbook. In addition to that, don’t let them hanging with no support in the initial months at the new job. Assign a buddy to them, who is their go-to person in case of questions on their new job and the ways of work in the new company. 

4: Keep them engaged with onboarding activities that foster bonding with the team

Nudge the new hires to initiate bonding with the rest of the team, schedule meetings, and know them better. Set up a fun introductory meeting, virtual games, dinners, and coffee break wherein they get to see the company's fun side. 

5: Set them up for success with onboarding training and learning sessions

It is necessary that the new hire feels involved in the onboarding process. Share all the learning materials with them, send them email reminders at the right frequency (to not seem pushy) so that they know you want them to learn and succeed, just like they do.

6: Set up 1:1 video meetings with the new hires

Set up a 30/60/90 day plan for the new hires and meet them after the said duration. Ask about their experience in the company so far, seek feedback to know where you can improve, and guide them into the new role. In these meetings, let them know their goals and help them charter a career plan that aligns the company goals with their personal goals.

7: Measure your progress with the right metrics

Since onboarding is an integral part of employee retention, it is necessary to do it right. Seek feedback from your new hires, and have the right metrics to tell you whether you are on the right track.

Comprehensive Remote employee onboarding checklist:

Remote onboarding must be a well-planned process that should last at least three months after the employee joins the company. Help them meet and get acquainted with everyone, set their OKRs, and plan their career path. 

Things to keep in mind while onboarding a new employee virtually:

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