Remote Employees Onboarding Checklist & Guide
The world of work has changed. 30% of the UK workforce is now working remotely at least once a week, while one in five Brits have aspirations to work from home full time.
At the same time, 16% of companies are now 100% remote. That is, they don’t run traditional offices or business premises where employees work from. Everything is digital and dispersed.
Because working patterns have changed, so out of necessity have recruitment practices. There are clear benefits to offering remote positions. You can look further afield in the hunt for the best available talent. With no office space, equipment or amenities to pay for, remote workers cost less. There’s growing evidence that remote workers can be more productive at home.
But for any business offering remote positions for the first time, there is a lot to think about. IT is top of the list. Remote working relies on having the right software and connectivity to allow remote teams to work together effectively over distance.
Thanks to cloud computing, solutions that enable remote working are now readily available. But there’s more to it than simply adding a new user account to your chosen software suite. How do you integrate a remote recruit with their new colleagues and make them part of the team? How do you manage training and mentoring? How do you monitor their progress and make sure they settle in well?
These and other considerations are all part of the onboarding process. Traditionally, all of this would have been done in person. New recruits would meet and get to know their colleagues face-to-face, they might be assigned a mentor to show them the ropes, they would go through training and induction to get them up to speed.
Remote employee onboarding is a different animal. It presents different challenges and requires different approaches. So how is it done? This remote onboarding guide and checklist will highlight the key things you need to know.
What is the purpose of remote employee onboarding?
Every new recruit needs time to settle into their role, get up to speed with processes and ways of working, integrate into the team and so on. The quicker this happens, the sooner they will start working at their most productive. Onboarding aims to smooth the path to new starters performing at their best.
With remote onboarding, you have to factor in things like how a new employee will form positive working relationships with colleagues that they never actually meet in person. Or the additional reliance they have on IT.
The overall aims of remote employee onboarding can be summed up as:
- Ensuring a new recruit has everything they need to do their job effectively at a distance.
- Laying the groundwork for positive working relationships to form between the new starter and their colleagues.
- Completing all tasks necessary to set the new starter up as an employee, from paperwork to IT to training.
Remote onboarding guide checklist
There can be a lot to think about when onboarding a new employee. Many companies find it useful to create a formal process that they can repeat with every new starter. That way, it becomes a case of working through a checklist of tasks to make sure you cover everything.
Here’s a suggested checklist for remote employee onboarding.
- New starter welcome email or letter. Once the offer of a job is accepted, you will want to start by officially welcoming the new recruit to the team. You might want to set up a video or voice call to do this. But even then, it’s still a good idea to send a welcome email or letter. This is an opportunity to provide key information the new starter will need in writing, such as start date, what to expect on the first day, how to log onto company systems etc. It’s also a chance to sell the company culture, start the all important relationship building process and allay any concerns the employee may have. You can do this by answering common questions and simply by being warm and friendly in your welcome.
- IT systems access and equipment check. Remote work depends fundamentally on IT. A critical part of the onboarding process for remote employees is getting them set up with user profiles on all systems your company uses. You will also need to check they are comfortable using these systems and provide training as required. Similarly, you should do an audit of what IT hardware they have. Many companies prefer to provide company laptops and mobile phones to remote employees for security reasons. Or you might prefer to provide VPNs, firewalls and other digital security tools that can be installed remotely on their own devices.
- Home office equipment check. As well as IT equipment, as a responsible employer you should also make sure a new remote employee has everything they need to work safely and securely at home. Ergonomic assessments of home office workspaces go under the radar compared to the high profile they now have on company premises. But home workers are just as prone to getting bad backs, RSI and other long-term injuries from poor posture as they work. Good practice in this area is to send out a questionnaire during onboarding asking about desks, chairs, screen heights etc. Providing proper office chairs, screen risers, wrist supports and more will help keep home workers healthy and productive.
- Introduce the team. One drawback of remote work is that it is not as easy for people, and especially new starters, to form bonds with the people they work with. But there are things you can do to help that along. It starts during onboarding. Set up a group video call to introduce the team. Once introductions have been made face to face (virtually, of course), add the new recruit to any Slack channels, WhatsApp groups and other communications tools their immediate colleagues use. Maybe run a virtual social event like a quiz to help break the ice.
- Documentation and company policies. Paperwork is an inevitable part of any onboarding process, remote or otherwise. With remote workers, the most efficient way to deal with it is to send the contract of employment, non-disclosure agreements and any other official documents via email or file share and explain how they can sign them digitally. The same applies for any company policies they need to read. More generally, you might want to share resources that give more detail about the company’s background, values and aspirations.
- Personal development. Finally, as noted above, one of the primary aims of onboarding is to get a new employee up to speed and working at their best as quickly as possible. There will inevitably be a learning curve. But the goal of onboarding is to make it as short as possible. Set up any training required as soon after the start date as possible. Many companies like to run mentor or buddy systems with new recruits, so they can learn from an experienced member of the team. It’s helpful to set goals and review progress regularly. Explain to the new employee where you expect them to be in two weeks or a month’s time, and how that will be reviewed. And of course, always make clear that help is available if they find they are struggling.
For an even more in-depth guide for onboarding new hires, take a look at our New Employee Starter Guide.