Remote Onboarding 101: How to Welcome Employees Remotely

remote onboarding

Remote Onboarding 101: How to Welcome Employees Remotely

5536 4160 Mita Mandawker

Building a team requires effort, careful planning, and consideration. Hiring is only one half of the equation, the other half involves onboarding new employees properly to increase their likelihood of staying on with your company and setting them up for success in their new role.

Onboarding plays a critical role in a new hire’s success and happiness. Companies with effective onboarding practices are 2.5x more likely to achieve revenue growth and 1.9x more likely to achieve profit margin as compared to companies with poor onboarding practices. Effective onboarding is also known to improve retention. Employees are 2x more likely to seek out another job if they have a bad onboarding experience. So investing in a sound onboarding plan for new hires will go a long way in saving companies time and resources involved in filling positions.

Given the current pandemic, where most companies have gone remote, and for companies still hiring, traditional in-person onboarding programs are not possible. Even before the pandemic began, the number of people working remotely went up by 159% over the last 15 years. While it may not be ideal, welcoming your employees remotely is an important part of onboarding them into your team and culture.

So how can you effectively onboard remotely and set up your new hires for success in their new role? We got you covered.


Pre-boarding is when you engage with your new hires from the time they accept your job offer to the time they actually join your company and start working. It has become increasingly important in a competitive world to engage with your candidates especially when the dropoff rates of new hires is high. 33% of employees say they knew whether they would stay with their company long term after their first week. Pre-boarding can boost speed, confidence, and competence, helping your new hires to get ahead.

Start communicating with your new hire a week or two before they are due to join, share a plan with them as to how their first few days, weeks, and months will look like (depending on the duration of your onboarding program). This will help them prepare themselves mentally as to what to expect once they join in. Share details of the HR manager or some other point of contact they can be in touch with, in case they have any questions.

To give them an insight into your business, culture, and vision, share some company literature with them. Start immersing them in details about your organization, team, and work to help them understand what you stand for.

This is important for any onboarding program, and especially for remote onboarding. You can communicate this digitally and set up a phone or video chat with your new employee to pre-board them.

Set up systems, introduce the company’s communication channels

With remote onboarding, a new hire steps into your company’s communication channels, rather than your office. It is important to make sure that it is easy for the new hire to navigate and connect with the rest of the team, especially since they won’t be sharing physical office space with their new team.

New hires report a lack of technological support as a challenge in their onboarding. Eliminate any troubles by working with your IT team to make sure a proper laptop along with the requisite instructions, websites, accounts for logging in your company channel are shared with your new hire. This goes a long way in easing the new hire into using your systems easily and connecting with the rest of the team members.

You can also send your new hire a swag package (t-shirt, water bottle, laptop stickers, or a personalized short note from the manager or the team) before they start to get them excited about the new role and to show you are looking forward to welcoming them on your team.

Introducing your new hire to the team

Give your team a heads-up about the new hire and how their role fits into the larger team. Get a short bio from your new hire before they start working, and on their first day share it with your entire team as a way to introduce them.

Encourage and remind your team to make the first move and introduce themselves to the new hire. Their first few days might be awkward if they don’t know how to introduce themselves, who they’re working with, and what the expected communication norms are. You can help by setting up time to introduce your new hire to the team, and asking your team to be welcoming to the new hire.

Try to replicate the welcome activities you would do in-person. For example, if you typically take new employees to lunch on the first day, invite your team to do a “virtual lunch” with your new hire to facilitate introductions and team bonding.

Pair up with a virtual buddy

Assign a virtual buddy to your new hire. It does not have to be the direct manager; it can be anyone on the team.

A virtual buddy acts as a point of contact for the remote hire, for any questions, concerns on working, and navigating their way around the new company. The buddy can also answer any questions regarding the culture of the company, things which are often learned by observing one’s colleagues and workplace interactions, something not possible for a remote hire.

Extending responsibilities

By now your new hire has an idea about the way the organization works, has some cues and insights into your culture, thanks to their virtual buddy. It is time to help them understand their responsibilities at work.

Provide them with a clear context of the project(s) they will be working on, set expectations at the onset of the project on what the deliverables will be, and what will the performance be evaluated against.

Set up points of communication and regular check-ins so that the new hire can be in touch in case they need any help from the manager or any other teammate to work on their project.

Check-in regularly

The first few months are critical for a new hire, especially a remote hire, whom you can’t connect with as frequently as someone who sits with you in office and can go out for a casual coffee or drop by their desk and chitchat for a while.

21% of remote workers report loneliness as a major challenge, to alleviate that, set up regular check-ins with the manager and other teammates, so that the new hire does not feel isolated, alone, and feels included.

Build a rapport

Don’t always check-in about work. Try to get to know them outside of work – try to understand what their hobbies or interests are, how they have been coping with the pandemic, and what they’re excited about in this new role.

It is important to understand how the new hire is managing throughout the remote onboarding program (whether it’s helpful or overwhelming, or if they need any additional resources). Once they have started working, check in to see how they are settling in their new role, if they are encountering any problems and that they have support to excel and grow in their work.

All of these professional check ins are easier if you have built rapport and have a good personal relationship to build off of.

Ask for feedback

Feedback is important for the success and improvement of your remote onboarding plan. Since you are remote, you will have fewer opportunities for informal feedback that you might be used to getting during in-person onboarding. So, seek feedback from your new hire during the course of the onboarding program and also after the onboarding is finished. You can seek feedback formally (through a form or survey) or informally (via text, WhatsApp, Slack, or a quick phone or video chat).

Remote onboarding is still new for most companies, so getting feedback will not only help you onboard the individual employees, but it will also help you improve your processes and program going forward.

Remember your remote onboarding program is not set in stone and you should keep on revisiting it frequently to make sure the processes are up-to-date and relevant and the feedback has been factored in.

What is the impact of a strong onboarding process?

  • Effective onboarding can increase employee performance by up to 11% and discretionary effort by more than 20%
  • Employees are 58% more likely to be at the company three years later if they complete a structured onboarding process

As you conduct remote onboarding, let us know how it goes. We would love to hear about what’s working for you and if you would like any help or advice, our team of experts are available to help out.


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