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Create a Successful Onboarding Experience for Remote Employees

June 02, 2021

Even before the pandemic, working remotely has been on the rise.  Between 2005 and 2017 the number of remote employees increased by 159%. Forbes suggests by 2025 70% of the workforce will be working from home in some capacity.With a shift in the workforce dynamic, HR professionals need to align their onboarding process to meet the needs of future remote employees. 

Create a Successful Onboarding Experience for Remote Employees

How Can Companies create a effective Onboarding Process?

When hiring remote employees, HR professionals can struggle with creating an onboarding process that meets the same standards as their current process with new hires who work in the office.

Start Before Day One

Ensure your employee has the tools and information they need for their first day. What equipment do they need? Do they have access to the applications, networks, communication systems day one?

For new hires working in the office setting, on day one they have a workspace, equipment, technology they need ready for them when they arrive.  Ensure your remote workers feel just as prepared as they start their first day.  Mail equipment, office supplies, company swag new hires receive before their start day so they are set up for success day one. Adapt your onboarding process to include IT early on to ensure the employee is able to start their experience with the best foot forward.

Early communication for any new hire is important; however, for remote employees it's vital to their success in the first week.  Keep them informed on items being delivered, new hire paperwork, and expectations for their first few days. Sending an itinerary a few days before allows them to prepare their workspace and equipment for their first day.  


Digitize Materials & Paperwork

Do you have a companywide handbook that all employee's receive? What about a folder with materials and information about your company?  Now is the time to digitize them and simply scanning them won't do the trick.  Make sure all printed materials and paperwork that is traditional given to new hires on their first day are in digital form that allows remote workers to access and view.

PDF, PowerPoint, Google Slides, Video Links, and Protected Documents are ways to share handbooks, presentations and HR paperwork with your new hires who will be working remotely. Your goral as a company or HR professional is to offer the same quality and experience to all new hires remote or in person.


Make Expectations Clear

Communication should not only start early but should be transparent and clear starting with the recruiting process.  Remote employees should know the expectations they are being held to and how they are being monitored, tracked or evaluated.  

Setting expectations and also goals on both sides allows gives the employer and employee a clear picture of success. Things to consider when setting expectations:

    • Working Hours - Does your employee work in another time zone?

    • Accessibility - Can the employer call your personal cell anytime of the day?

    • Work Load - How much work will the employee be expected to accomplish within specific timelines? 1 week, 1 quarter, 6 moths, etc.

    • Goal Setting - Does your company use a software or methodology for setting professional goals?


Acclimate Them to the Culture

A large portion of a companies culture is the office culture. Water cooler small talk, office celebrations, team building exercises.  How can you include and connect your employees into the culture of your company from their home office?  

Similar to an office environment, companies should create a virtual environment that fosters collaboration, connection and comfort.  Employees want to feel heard, appreciated, and celebrated no matter where they work. HR professionals are taking a virtual approach to engaging their employees to integrate them into the culture of their companies:

    • Introduce new employees with virtual meet & greets 
    • Establish a mentorship or buddy program for new hires
    • Have pictures of remote employees at the office
    • Provide a virtual office tour
    • Setup virtual coffee meetings leadership

Develop a Sustainable Communication Plan

Setting up a communication plan that fosters consistent and inclusive dialogue will allow remote workers, their managers and team to stay connected.  When developing an outline for sustainable communication companies should include the remote employees in the process.

Not sure where to start?  Consider these ideas:

    • Communication Style or Preference - Phone, email, chat, video conference; what works best in certain settings. 

    • Team Check-Ins & Brainstorming Sessions - Consider designating time each week for the team to collaborate together virtually. 

    • Avoid Disconnect or Delayed Approaches - Important company wide announcement next week?  Ensure you are communicating to all team members remote or in person in a similar and timely manner. Remote employees shouldn't be an after thought with important updates; send an email, give them a call or setup a live viewing for them to see in real time. 

A successful onboarding process allows new hires to feel welcome, prepared and ready to start their new position within your company. With some thoughtful consideration, strategic alignment and flexibility HR professionals can create a positive onboarding experience for their remote workforce. 


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