Recent years have seen an explosion in the popularity of remote work culture. Global freelance platform Upwork, for example, estimates that 22% of America’s workforce will be entirely remote by 2025

These rising numbers of remote employees, coupled with the globalized nature of business today, have impacted both the way we manage our teams and the ways we conduct human resources. 

In a remote work context, the offboarding process must be tailored to benefit both the departing employee and their employer in equal measure, whilst overcoming the challenges presented by distance.

Offboarding Process
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The employee offboarding process in a remote work context

Just as remote ‘onboarding’ refers to the process of smoothly and effectively transitioning a new, off-site employee into the workplace, remote ‘offboarding’ is the process of transitioning employees out of the workplace. This must often be conducted virtually, owing to the employer and employee being in different places, sometimes even on opposite sides of the world from each other.

The intention behind a quality offboarding process is to ensure that employer-employee relationships end on good terms, whilst tying up all necessary loose ends to protect the lasting security of your business’s legal position, finances, and sensitive information.

The importance of the offboarding process: 7 key benefits

When an offboarding process is developed thoughtfully, and carefully adapted to a remote work environment, it can create a number of key benefits for both your business and your employees’ wellbeing.

  1. Improved employee experience: Quality offboarding ensures that your employee enjoys a quality working relationship with your company from day one to the last day of their employment. Employees who know the offboarding process will help, not hinder them, are likely to be more content in their work environment.
  2. A strengthened brand image: Employees who have benefited from the offboarding process should hopefully leave your workforce with a positive feeling toward the company. Given former employees may continue to be customers or clients of your company, this positivity can reflect well on your brand.
  3. An increased chance of the employee’s return: Around 40% of employees state that they would consider returning to a former workplace, whilst HR departments would reportedly rehire over three-quarters of the workers they offboard. A positive offboarding process increases your chances of welcoming a former employee back into the fold in future.
  4. Assured legal compliance: Staff may require offboarding for a number of reasons, from layoffs, terminations, and retirements to voluntary resignation for personal reasons. Each unique scenario has potential legal ramifications for the employer. By developing a watertight remote offboarding process, you can ensure full and just compliance with international and local employment law, thus avoiding potentially costly lawsuits.
  5. Decreased risk to company security: Employees often require access to sensitive information, records, workplace applications and even finances during their employment. Offboarding minimizes the risks former employees pose to company security by revoking their access to these areas prior to their final day. 
  6. An opportunity to improve company structure and performance: Exit interviews and knowledge transfer – two key aspects of any offboarding process – can provide you with the information you need to continually improve your company’s operations and remote work environment; in turn contributing to improved productivity and employee wellbeing.
  7. Streamlining the process of hiring a replacement: Effective employee onboarding makes plans for the smooth transition of the departing employee’s workload, either onto a new hire or by redistributing their work, gained knowledge, and expertise amongst their remaining team members. This ensures there is minimal disruption to the team’s productivity, and client deadlines can continue to be met without fail.

9 best practices for creating an effective remote offboarding process

Now that we’ve covered why it is so important to develop an effective remote offboarding process for your company or HR department, we can move on to discussing nine best practices you should fold into your personalized plan.

1. Invest the same amount of time and resources to offboarding vs. onboarding

Offboarding is a valuable process which can help companies create more efficient, inclusive, and supportive work environments, benefiting the output and, hopefully, turnover of the business in the long run. To ensure you get the most out of your remote offboarding process,   process.

2) Understand the cultural, legal, and compliance nuances of offboarding remote international employees

Working with a remote, global workforce can pose various challenges to your HR team, not least the nuances of offboarding those employees. Cultural expectations, legal obligations, and other international compliance issues – such as tax and payroll – may vary drastically from country to country. As such, it’s important that you’re aware of these differences and how to navigate them before implementing your remote offboarding process.

3) Extract and utilize your employee’s experience and knowledge

One of the most beneficial aspects of any offboarding process, remote or on-site, is the ability to extract your departing employee’s expertise and institutional knowledge. Have them draft a handover document including how they triage their daily tasks, how they complete them efficiently, and any other insights they may have regarding conducting their role in the company optimally.

4) Work with your employee to communicate their departure to the rest of the company

Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to company communication, especially when communication must bridge geographical distance as well as time zones. Whatever the reason for your employee leaving, an effective offboarding strategy should include a means of clearly and compassionately communicating the departure to the rest of the workforce.

5) Make an administrative checklist

There is inarguably a great deal of work which must go into offboarding, especially remote offboarding, to make the process smooth and effective. Though it may sound simple, making an administrative checklist will help you stay on top of all the paperwork and steps which must be completed. A remote offboarding checklist might include such elements as:

  • Remove employee access to company’s internal system and files
  • Process employee’s final paycheck, including employee contributions
  • Recover company equipment (laptop, phone, etc.) from employee
  • Complete and file all necessary offboarding documentation
  • Inform rest of the team of the employee’s departure
  • Schedule an exit interview with a chosen member of staff

6) Schedule a remote exit interview

An exit interview is your chance to gather invaluable information from departing employees about their experience working for you, your management team, and within your company. Given the many challenges of making remote team members feel included and supported by your company, this is an excellent chance to discover weaknesses within your company structure and work environment, so that you can improve upon them going forward.

7) Safeguard your company’s sensitive information

Before your employee’s last day, an offboarding strategy should include a comprehensive revocation of the employee’s access to your company’s sensitive information. This includes revoking access to:

  • Their company email
  • The company’s database
  • The company’s client list, leads, or call list
  • Any third-party accounts used by the company

You may also, depending on the nature of your work and the employee’s role within your company, have to ask them to sign certain disclosure and/or non-compete agreements.

8) Develop a transition plan for a new hire and/or a temporary work plan

To ensure that your team are not left taking on the workload of the departing team member, an effective remote offboarding process should include a transitional plan to move the departing employee’s workload onto a new hire – who the departing employee may even be able to train – or redistributed amongst the team, if they are capable of assuming the workload.

9) Send a goodbye package and schedule a final team sendoff call

Typically, offboarding might include a goodbye party for the departing employee. When offboarding remotely, however, farewells become much more challenging. Consider scheduling a goodbye call with the employee’s team and putting together a goodbye package which can be delivered to the employee’s home, instead.


Offboarding employees remotely comes with its fair share of challenges and location-specific nuances, but with a carefully designed offboarding process tailored to each unique scenario, it can ultimately benefit both your business and your departing employees’ wellbeing to no end.