It can be intimidating for new hires to start at your company. The onboarding process can be especially isolating in a virtual environment.
Getting virtual new hires introduced and onboarded successfully is critical to helping them adapt and feel included in the company. With 69% of employees sharing that they’re likely to stay with a company for at least three years if they experienced good onboarding, it’s a critical retention effort too.
Without the in-person component, strong introductions and onboarding requires more planning and effort – but when done well, virtual onboarding can reap lasting benefits. How can you best onboard remote employees so they feel ready to work and connected to their colleagues?
Onboarding checklist to set remote employees up for success
From the moment a new employee is hired, the onboarding process begins. Consider the following checklist to kickstart the onboarding process and help lead subsequent introductions to the team and the work:
1. Get them online ASAP
Considering the office is a virtual space, it’s critical that all technology is set up and ready for day one.
Send any required hardware and company equipment in advance. Once it is received, make sure to contact the new hire and connect them with IT to help with any setup. This way, they can get one-on-one support with setup and troubleshoot any technology issues in advance of their start date. Remember: Your new hire may have never worked in a remote environment before or may have limited experience working with technology.
2. Virtual new hire orientation
It’s important to remember that orientation and onboarding are two different things. While onboarding is a comprehensive process that can take months, orientation is typically the first couple days on the job and requires some routine tasks, paperwork, and education. Setting up a virtual new hire orientation, especially if more than one person is starting at the same time, can help them meet other people and leaders, learn more about the company, get critical information they need, and create a solid foundation.
3. Send resources during orientation
Does the new hire’s role need a log-in to access information? How do they log their hours? What platform can they check pay stubs and request PTO? If you don’t already have an employee handbook, consider sending all resources in one email with links to anything they may need. This will be an immense help with onboarding remote employees in the long run, especially as new hires continue to be inundated with meetings, documents, and more.
4. Provide their schedule in advance
We’ve all been there with a new job: Sitting at a desk, staring at a screen, not knowing exactly what to do just yet and still trying to look productive. Sound familiar?
In a physical office, you’re at least immersed in the culture and can soak up any conversations and information you may hear. In a remote space, clear guidance is needed to set the new hire up for success.
Provide a schedule for their first week on the job, and a roadmap for the first 30, 60, and 90 days. This can help new remote hires know what to look forward to, how to prepare, and what to expect in their first, second, and third months on the job. While the roadmap can simply be a broad monthly overview, it can help give structure to the workplace and what the new employee’s role and responsibilities will entail.
5. Make them feel welcome with a proper introduction
Sending a welcome email to a new hire and the rest of the team doesn’t cut it anymore. Be sure to facilitate opportunities for them to meet people on the team and across departments. It can help new employees feel continuously welcome and give them other people to lean on for questions about the company itself and the work. Try a Slack app like Intros by Airspeed to easily introduce your new employee and encourage existing employees to discover what they have in common.
6. Outline expectations
Once orientation is over and the schedule starts to be less structured, make sure employees know when they’ll be expected to start delivering work. Be transparent if they have specific goals they’re expected to achieve, meetings they must attend, or hours they’re expected to be online. This clear communication from supervisors allows new remote hires to adapt.
7. Check in frequently
Starting a new job can feel like you’re on an island. Check in frequently with short meetings and daily messages to see if they need any support. Though be sure to not micromanage them, as that can lead them to feel like you don’t trust them.
8. Request their celebration/milestone dates
Show your new hire that you intend to celebrate their milestones as they grow with the team. Collect their birthday and work anniversary date using a Slack app such as Celebrations so you can send them a card on special occasions. When you gather their celebration dates immediately, you’re emphasizing the inclusive company culture and helping them feel like an important part of the team.
How to introduce new remote employees as part of onboarding
Introducing new hires to your current employees can also be one of their first introductions to the company’s culture. This can be a great way for you to show, and not tell, them about what your company is and how it operates.
Before throwing the team into a Zoom and asking everyone to state their names and positions, make it a bit more fun. You can break it down three ways: creating one-on-one opportunities, solidifying mentorship, and providing access to a broader network.
You can easily facilitate connection across departments through tech tools. Slack apps like Intros can welcome new hires and connect colleagues. Introduction templates can be added to any Slack channel – either populated by top introductions questions or customized questions by leadership. With these Intros, team members can instantly discover what they have in common and start conversations. You can also have employees reach out to the new hire to facilitate social connection.
You may want to encourage some specific connections, especially if it relates to the new employee’s role. This can provide valuable mentorship opportunities.
For any group interactions to get to know the team, keep it fun, mandatory, and NOT focused on work. Consider any games or easy ways to get to know each other that are light and informative.
New hires don’t have to feel like they’re on an island when they’re starting a new remote job. By onboarding remote employees and introducing them to leaders and teammates, you can set them up for success and ensure they’re happy, supported, and ready to get to work.