How to successfully on-board new employees remotely

Employee onboarding programs aim to establish expectations, immerse new hires in the company culture, while equipping them with the right tools, context and connections to get them started.

1. Send new hires IT hardware, manuals and paraphernalia

Get them up and running straight away by sending them their tech equipment and tools as part of a welcome package. It’s even possible to reduce shipping costs by ordering the equipment they need from their local technology providers.

And it’s not just hardware like laptops and phones. Ensure your new remote hire is ready to go in all guns blazing by ensuring your IT people have set them up with their individual work email account, as well as the required access to cloud-based storage systems and software platforms.

Finally, don’t discount the importance of swag just because they are working remotely. Include in your welcome pack some branded items such as notepads, pens and even some snacks (if you have the budget) to delight and excite your new hire.

2. Introductions, wider business/team & smaller groups

Welcoming someone new to the team is a big event for the whole company – even when you’re remote. We always start a new employee’s first day with a welcome breakfast and company-wide welcome call. It’s a great place to start: all the other remote workers get to introduce themselves and their background, and the new person gets to match faces to names and see how different people interact.

Then move onto more focused intros – like the core team the new remote employee will be working with, or key people around the company they may need to approach for different things. It’s also important to try and start conversations with colleagues your remote worker is unlikely to speak to every day, as otherwise their relationship may never really get off the ground until your first company-wide meetup.

3. Set expectations from the start

Clearly communicate your expectations to new employees before they start work. Onboarding employees with a clear picture of their duties is the basis for successful hires. Both you and the remote worker should be clear on company values, team objectives, and individual goals. You should also establish time frames for training, reviews, and milestones.

You should verify that new employees understand their tasks and the systems they’ll use in their work. Discuss upcoming projects, organization leaders, and access to shared employee resources. Work out a schedule for availability to attend team meetings. Provide the new hire with documentation of your onboarding process so that they can reference it for answers and guidance.

4. Refine the on-boarding process

For each new process you implement, you should review its impact and results. Document and evaluate how both existing and new employees react to the onboarding process. Find out what works best for onboarding remote workers by consulting those who’ve had similar experiences.

After new remote workers have been at their jobs for a while, ask them the value they got from your onboarding strategy. By constantly evaluating and improving the onboarding process, you can help remote workers adjust to their new roles easily and refine for future remote hires.

Onboarding any new hire is important, but remote hires provide special challenges (and opportunities) in building your team. You should bring new team members to headquarters if possible, but otherwise utilize video conferencing to make them familiar to coworkers and start building relationships. The first step should be making them aware of and comfortable with social and professional expectations. Make them feel welcome, and follow up by gathering feedback to evaluate and refine your onboarding process.