onboard employees remotely

Did you know that 49 percent of employees wish working from home would be a permanent change post-pandemic? 

As more companies allow employees to work remotely work remotely for the next six months, and others downsize or get rid of their in-person offices altogether, creating a great remote onboarding experience for new employees becomes critical.

In this post, we’re sharing eight tips to help HR professionals onboard employees remotely: 

1. Mail a welcome kit to new employees before their first day 

When was the last time you received a letter in the mail that wasn’t a bill or junk mail? When a new hire’s manager or even the company founder(s) sends a handwritten note alongside a welcome gift, this can go a long way toward making your new employee feel welcome.

This doesn’t need to take a ton of time or be expensive. You can write a handwritten postcard and send a branded company t-shirt. Or you can take it a step further and send a gift that will improve the new employee’s home office setup, like a new pair of headphones or a nice succulent plant for their desk.  

2. Systemize your new hire onboarding checklists

One of the first things a new hire has to do is fill out a ton of paperwork, which includes everything from W2s and direct deposit bank details to job contracts, insurance, and 401(k) forms. 

Given that every single full-time employee has to do this, the more you can systemize these processes, the smoother the experience will be for both your HR team and new hires. 

Pro tip: Don’t forget about setting up new hires with a new laptop and any software they may need to do their job. Get the ball rolling before their first day so that they can start working on their first day instead of having to wait for their new laptop. 

3. Teach new hires about your company culture 

Many companies gloss over the importance of teaching new hires about the company culture, especially when onboarding remotely. You can’t just hold one Zoom call where you go through the company’s mission, values, and goals.

Every single person on the team plays a role in contributing to your company culture. This is why it’s so important to make time for your new employees to chat and get to know at least the people they will be working with on a regular basis. 

When you’re in the office, a lot of us this happens organically by going out to lunch or having a happy hour after work. 

Remote teams have to be more proactive about getting to know each other.

For example, you can provide a stipend for team lunches. Anytime a new employee joins, you can both order lunch and have it delivered to your homes, then have a group lunch over Zoom. This can also work for a team virtual happy hour using on-demand alcohol delivery services.

4. Set clear expectations about internal and external communication 

Setting clear expectations about communication is especially important for remote teams that are spread all over the world. Without clear expectations in place, employees feel pressure to always be on and responsive, which can lead to less focused work time as well as burnout. 

For example, a Type A employee might feel pressured to respond to that quick Slack message from their colleague in Japan at 10 p.m. While this is fine every once in a while, if the entire company feels pressure to always be on even when they aren’t “clocked in,” this can lead to overwork and burnout.  

5. Make your new hire training interactive and engaging 

Zoom fatigue is real. When a new hire is in training, they aren’t going to want to sit through eight hours of daily Zoom calls as they learn all of the ins and outs of your product(s), company, and their role.
One way you can break up the number of Zoom calls as well as make the training more engaging is to gamify it. For example, you can create quizzes through a learning management system (LMS).  

6. Practice good remote meeting etiquette

While this applies to all meetings, it’s especially important to practice good meeting etiquette when training new remote employees. When interacting with new employees, they are likely to model what they see others in the organization do. 

Here are some best practices for remote calls: 

  • Mute your mic when you aren’t talking.  
  • Pay attention to the background when you’re on a video call. As tempting as it might be to take the call while lying in bed, poolside, or while driving your car, it’s not a professional look. In the case of video calling from the road, it’s also a safety hazard. 
  • Resist the urge to multitask on video calls. It’s more obvious than you think if you’re answering emails while you’re on a call. 

7. Use technology to improve team communication, not replace it 

Between Zoom, Slack, and a whole host of Slack plugins like HeyTaco, Geekbot, Donut, and Oskar, there have never been more communication and collaboration tools. However, it’s important that you use these tools to improve team collaboration, not as a replacement for effective communication. 

8. Continually review and improve your onboarding processes

With any new systems and processes you put into place, it’s important to review and improve them on a regular basis. 

For instance, make a point of collecting feedback from new employees and ask them what you can do to improve the onboarding process moving forward. You can then prioritize and apply this feedback moving forward.  

HR pros need to be intentional about how they onboard employees remotely. These eight tips will help you create a smooth remote onboarding experience. 

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