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How to Onboard Remote Staff… Remotely

A virtual induction welcome screen
Virtual Inductions are the way forward for remote employees

As more businesses look to start hiring again, many are facing issues they didn’t have to tackle before. This week we’re looking into how to induct or onboard an employee if they are going to be working from home, or you are? Thankfully, it’s not impossible (lots of companies were doing this pre-COVID), and once you’ve got the processes in place, you can use them again each time you recruit a new starter.


Prepare for their start date well in advance

Order your new employees work computer, mobile phone and other hardware they will require and deliver to them one week before they start. Ask them to setup prior to their start date and have your IT department contact them to assist with setup, if necessary. This will allow for any IT issues to be sorted prior to them starting.

If they will be working at a computer, include a Display Screen Equipment Assessment and if they require uniform, especially PPE, ensure they have it, and it fits correctly, before allowing them on site.

Keep them informed of the process and alert them of any changes or updates that might affect their job.

Send them all their HR documents with a digital signature application so they don’t have to print or post anything.


Make them feel welcome

This would also be a great time to send them any company branded welcome packs, helping them feel part of the team from the outset.

Remote employees are part of your team and culture, despite not being in the office. To help them settle in and understand your culture, ensure you share the following with them:

  • Your employee handbook.
  • Your company values and missions.
  • Photos and videos of staff and the workplace you would be in if not for COVID.
  • Branded items like mugs, post-it notes or other merchandise.

Ask your new employee to prepare some questions for your current team and carry out scheduled 121’s with them via Teams, Zoom etc. This is a great way to get your new employee integrated with your current team from the start, allowing some common ground to be established.

Encourage new employees to work within a group to complete any projects during onboarding, it forges bonds quickly through collaborative learning.

Adopt a ‘buddy system’ by assigning them a mentor or peer, someone they can go to if they have any questions.


Set Targets and Expectations

It’s important for employees to understand their short-term and long-term goals. Your management team should:

  • Develop a shared diary system or calendar.
  • Define targets and how they will be measured.
  • Plan weekly, monthly and annual meetings for teams and individuals for performance evaluation and wellbeing monitoring.
  • Ensure they have met their line manager or direct reports, HR rep and other key members of staff face-to-face online, so they can put names to faces.


Have A Robust Training Programme

Remote training can be more complex than in-person training, especially as communication is limited.

When planning training:

  • Include a mix of training approaches and materials, to appeal to different styles of learning.
  • Make it interactive and user-friendly.
  • Use videos, live streams and group activities.
  • Have other staff get involved for real-life training scenarios.
  • Follow-up after training to answer questions and check understanding.


Communication Is Key

Working remotely can become lonely and your new employee may feel isolated from time to time.

Increase your communication with your remote employees. Make them aware of the support around them and how they can utilise this.

Introduce them to Yammer (or other work social network) and let them know what communication tools they use so they can get up to speed with how they work.

Arrange online social events and regular team meetings.


Stay In Touch

Arrange regular catch-ups and stick to them.

Ask them for feedback on the induction process they went through and use it to improve.


Infographic on onboarding employees remotely


You can download a PDF of this infographic here.

About the author

Rebekah Frost

A champion problem solver; whether it’s a board game or a tricky computer conundrum, Bekah's attention to detail is second to none. Her interesting and varied work experience across different sectors means she always has a story to tell, a love of people and a way to fix any issue.