Onboarding is the crucial process of introducing a newly hired employee into an organization and their team, and a successful onboarding process is critical for making the best first impression and retaining talented hires long-term.

Onboarding remote employees is very different from onboarding office-based employees, however, presenting new challenges such as greater barriers to communication and teambuilding.

While remote onboarding follows many of the same principles as onsite onboarding, it’s specific to new hires that work from home or another place remotely. Remote employment is commonly referred to by people as ‘Working from Home’ but it’s not uncommon for remote staff to work from anywhere with a suitable Internet connection.


How Do I Onboard a New Employee Remotely?

With many companies considering a full-time shift to remote work because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to properly address the challenging process that is remote onboarding.

That’s why we’ve put together our remote onboarding ‘checklist’. Made by the remote team here at Organimi, we’re confident that it’ll help you provide your remote hires with not only a great first impression, but everything that they need to hit the ground running and integrate with the organization and their respective teams in their new roles.


6 Essential Phases of Remote Onboarding

Our checklist is comprised of five phases we think are essential for any remote onboarding efforts to be successful.

  1. Bring in the Rest of the Team
  2. Get Everything Set Up Ahead of Time
  3. Update Your Org Chart
  4. Have All Onboarding Documents Ready
  5. Define Expectations and Responsibilities
  6. Schedule Regular Meetings

Phase 1: Bring in the Rest of the Team

One of the most commonly cited complaints from new remote hires and remote employees in general is a feeling of not being included or properly part of the team. This is especially problematic where an organization is only partly remote, with some teams working in traditional office environments.

The last thing you want is for a new remote hire to feel like they don’t belong; no good can come of it and it’s no good for long-term retention. So, a great way to get the remote onboarding process on track ahead of time is to prepare the rest of your team for the arrival of a new remote employee. This will help kick off a team dynamic before they’ve even stepped foot in the virtual door.

When you’ve completed the hiring process and set a start date, provide the rest of your team with all the necessary details such as their name, where they’ll be working, and what they’ll be doing. This will allow your team members to make themselves available and support your new remote hire, making sure they get the help they need.


Phase 2: Get Everything Set Up Ahead of Time

In addition to readying your team, it’s a good idea to make sure that any accounts, equipment, and tools needed as part of their job role are set up ahead of time and ready upon their arrival.

Having IT problems when working remotely, especially as a new starter, can be stressful, so ironing out any problems ahead of time will enable a smooth remote onboarding process. Examples of things likely to need checking ahead of time include IT and email accounts, information on HR systems, payroll, and access to software are all areas likely to need taking care of.

It’s also a good idea to have any equipment such as desks and laptops/computers delivered well before their start date. This will ensure there’s enough time for them to set it up, for you to ensure it’s working, and for you to arrange replacements and/or time to iron out any problems before their first official day at work.


Phase 3: Update Your Org Chart

Starting a new job is, as you’re likely well aware, a daunting experience. Being thrown into a completely new job role at a new company with new people is enough to make even the most confident of people nervous.

When they’re integrated with the remote onboarding process, however, org charts can eliminate some of the dread felt by your new hires by helping them get to know their colleagues. An org chart that has been populated with the names, faces, job roles, and contact information at your organization becomes a powerful reference tool that can be used by new remote hires to ‘get to know’ people on their team, who they need to report to, and where they fit in within the overall structure.

If you’ve not updated your org chart recently, make sure that you do this before your new hire’s onboarding.


Phase 4: Have All Onboarding Documents Ready

HR documents, internal forms, contracts, legal paperwork… the list goes on. There’s no escaping the sheer amount of paperwork that’s involved in bringing on board a new hire, even when they’re going to be working remotely. All staff need to meet certain legal and policy requirements before they start, and paperwork is the best way to record everything and ensure compliance.

So, it goes without saying that it really pays to get these things prepared well ahead of time. Get employment contracts finalized and readied for your hire’s signature, policy and procedure documents updated and ready for them to read, and HR paperwork filled out and filed away. Oh and, if you haven’t yet, now would be a good time to send the new hire your org chart so that they know who to reach out to for specific issues.


Phase 5: Define Expectations and Responsibilities

Clear expectations and defined responsibilities are especially important for remote workers. This is because not everybody thrives in an independent remote environment; some need accountability and a clear scope of work to stay motivated and on-task.

Setting expectations and defining roles and responsibilities can be as simple as stating what their key functions are, what they’re expected to produce, and the role they’re expected to play during projects. It also helps eliminate any confusion and mitigate errors and wasted time. After all, the same job title or role may have vastly different functions and responsibilities at two different organizations.


Phase 6: Schedule Regular Meetings

When a new remote employee is settling into their role, it’s important to not only have an initial welcome and induction meetings, but regular, scheduled one-on-one meetings. These give you the opportunity to stay in touch and offer support where it’s needed. While regular meetings are standard practice for remote organizations, you should consider having more frequent check-ins with your new remote employees for their first few months.

You can use one-on-one meetings to go over any questions or talking points they might have, check in on their work progress and major milestones, and receive feedback. Regular one-on-ones are also an effective way to start building rapport and trust.


Make Remote Employees Feel Included

A robust remote onboarding process will not only take care of everything on the admin side of things but also help your new remote hires feel included. It, alongside regular interaction and inclusion in the team prior to day one, is the best and quickest way to involve your new remote employee in company culture.

Why not use the six phases that we’ve outlined above as a basis for you to put together your own remote onboarding plan? We’ve already got you covered for Phase 3 with Organimi, our leading org chart software that you can use to create powerful, dynamic org charts in minutes. Sign up for a free trial of Organimi to find out more!