Remote Onboarding Process: A Step-By-Step Guide

A Successful Remote Onboarding Guide
Summary: In a world where more employees are demanding remote work, employers will need onboarding processes that can accommodate these demands while retaining a high-quality and efficient process. This article will help ensure you don’t miss any steps in the planning for such a program.

Remote Onboarding Has Become The New Normal

Remote onboarding has the disadvantage of making it harder for the new employee to feel like part of the team. Before even getting started with the onboarding process, you need to get on the right foot with new employees by letting them know you’re happy they’re here. Feeling at home in a new environment will also provide more energy and morale in order to be onboarded correctly.

Welcome The Employee

You can get creative with how you do this. Many companies have started sending welcome packages to new employees with company merch or other goodies. This kind of thoughtful gesture helps someone feel like they are in the right place. Perhaps it can be included with any hardware you might be sending to the employees, such as computers and monitors.

The welcome wagon should be overflowing and abundant. Say hello on the first day with a personalized email. Something as simple as setting up getting-to-know-you calls with key team members can make a huge difference in the employees' first impressions. Another welcoming action is to ensure the employees understand how to access all their benefits—from health insurance to union membership information, to partner discounts—to help the employees understand how to make the best of their new resources.

Set Expectations

Onboarding processes that involve a chaotic string of emails make it difficult to keep track of what tasks need to be done and to understand the time commitment to budget time to properly complete training.

New employees should know how many hours of training they are about to complete along with the deadlines for various tasks. This way, they can dedicate real time to the training rather than treating it as a last-minute rush. Employees should also be informed about the reason behind all the training tasks. This will promote engagement; many employees ask themselves, "Do I actually need to know this?” when faced with a wall of training. It might also help employees pick and choose what to focus most of their efforts on based on what their personal priorities or preexisting knowledge may be.

Schedule Dedicated Time To Complete Training

Dedicated time to completing training—ideally spaced out to prevent orientation burnout—will ensure the training is done in a timely manner. If welcome gifts leave a good first impression, this gives a good second impression. It indicates the company cares about the employees' time and energy and is unwilling to place undue burdens that get in the way of their responsibilities. This also gives a sense of structure to training in a remote environment. Without a dedicated training space, employees may feel a little lost when they try to figure out how to manage time with their new workloads. They will be grateful for a structure that gives shape to their days.

Get Employees Familiar With Your Particular Blend Of Learning (And With Where They Can Get Help)

Every company will develop an onboarding program with a unique blend of learning module types and software. There are several types of training becoming popular in the world of remote onboarding, including scenario-based training and gamification.

In order to complete training with confidence, employees need to understand how to navigate your company’s LMS or LXP, as well as the best ways to engage with different types of content. Be sure to connect them to the resources they need in order to succeed. This can include, but is not limited to:

  • Guides, manuals, and how-to videos
  • Live technical support training (especially useful if onboarding a large group)
  • A responsive technical support team (via email, phone, and/or messenger)
  • The names of key team members who can answer questions about content or how the company works

Provide One-On-One Check-Ins

Because managers don’t have the opportunity to ask new remote employees “how are you doing?” while passing in the hallway, it’s necessary to actively reach out to employees. This should be true all the time but it’s especially important to make sure they’re on track during the onboarding process. This is not to handhold but to make sure everyone is on the same page. For example, these check-ins are your opportunity to emphasize the importance of a particular policy or to see if onboarding is achieving some of the outcomes you hope for.

If an employee felt successfully welcomed during the first part of onboarding, here’s your chance to demonstrate that it wasn’t just for show.

These check-ins can be done over a phone or video chat. It’s not recommended to do this over email because it should be more of a conversation. It can be helpful to have a plan for when check-ins will occur so they don’t get missed. Check-ins should recur at important milestones—one month, 90 days, 6 months, and one year.

Get Feedback

The onboarding process isn’t done until you’ve gotten feedback for the sake of future iterations of the process. Ask employees, perhaps at the 6-month check-in, how the onboarding process prepared them to work with your company. At a larger company, you can make this systematic by creating standardized surveys that are sent automatically at the 6-month mark.

Successful Remote Onboarding Is Key

Remote onboarding is less about telling employees the best lunch spot and where the bathroom is, and more about overcoming the isolation of remote work. Employees need to feel like they are part of a real team in order to feel dedicated to their work.

Feeling overwhelmed? Consider getting in touch with eLearning professionals skilled in creating onboarding programs to help you develop the perfect program for your company.