Successful Onboarding For Remote Employees: Best Practices

Réunion à distance
Morgane Lança
August 17 2021

The importance of a good new employee onboarding process is well known. Numbers don’t lie: employees who experienced an effective onboarding process are 69% more likely to stay three years in your company. In addition, a well-integrated employee who received efficient onboarding training will reach their goals more quickly and develop the team spirit necessary for the smooth running of the company.

With the recent expansion of the remote workforce comes questions on remote onboarding experience. How can we overcome remote environment challenges and implement the best virtual onboarding process practices?

Pssst… Are you looking for HR jobs? Check them here!

What Is a Remote Employee Onboarding Process?

The remote employee onboarding process consists in welcoming an employee 100% digitally by following the same onboarding phases as you would in person, from the signature of the hiring contract to the first team meeting. To address all aspects of remote onboarding, we must first understand the need to implement the best management practices for remote workers and the importance of anticipating the employee’s arrival.

Why You Should Set Up Efficient Remote Practices

The pandemic made it clear that remote work will become increasingly common. Indeed, the expansion of hybrid work patterns and full remote employees are all organizational evolutions that have gained ground in recent years, even more so in the current context.

If you don’t update your onboarding practices to consider these critical changes, you would, in turn, risk demotivating a growing number of your employees. If they are not welcomed like the others, they will never feel truly part of the organization, and their morale and productivity will suffer.

The last few months have taught us more than ever the value of organizational flexibility to overcome business challenges. Therefore, improving the remote work environment should be one of your key projects. This includes refining your remote onboarding program.

How to Anticipate Remote Onboarding

1) Logistical and Administrative Preparation

First, it’s essential to be prepared in terms of logistics. Does the employee have the necessary remote working tools to start their work peacefully? Do they know whom to contact to solve their issues and how to get help quickly? You should take some time to check how the new hire is doing with an onboarding email.

Anticipating an employee’s arrival does not necessarily mean planning for a specific task to be performed according to a deadline. Instead, the first few days should alternate between self-training sessions, video meetings, and onboarding videos. A flexible schedule for remote employees will prevent them from exiting their first days exhausted or bored.

2) Creation of a Remote Onboarding Plan

Consider setting up a clear action plan so that you don’t find yourself at a loss and risk losing your employee’s motivation in the first few days. However, remember that distance should not be an excuse to stifle the new employee  finding a balance between autonomy, supervision, and training is necessary for virtual onboarding.

A flexible and well-structured remote onboarding plan will be a real asset in facing remote onboarding process challenges!

Avoid any oversight by downloading our free onboarding checklist!

Remote Onboarding Experience Challenges

Now that you know what remote onboarding is and how to anticipate it, the question is how to overcome virtual onboarding challenges

1) Feeling Close, Even From a Distance

How can you overcome common communication challenges from a distance? Human resources professionals have valuable advice to give to overcome communication challenges, having experienced this new onboarding format firsthand:

The key is preparation beforehand to make the employee feel appreciated. We can give them reading material in advance, small projects to do, and send them a first-day schedule so that they know what to expect. In short, we need to open communication with them and make them feel that we are very close despite the distance.” – Stephanie Picknell, Human Resources Manager at Go RH

Anticipation is, therefore, the keystone of good remote management practices. New employees should feel involved and welcomed from the first exchanges following the signature of the hiring contract. Furthermore, remote isolation should never be an overwhelming issue in your company.

2) Implementing the Right Communication Technology

Psychological distance is one of the biggest challenges in virtual environments. However, building effective remote communication is not an unattainable goal: if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to implement virtual communication tools in your organization. Video conferencing software and instant messaging tools like Slack are software solutions that help you build professional and informal communication remotely.

3) Ensuring that Everyone Is on the Same Page

Beyond the logistics, it is also essential to make your staff aware of remote communication so that it gradually becomes part of your employees’ daily habits. They should feel heard if they have questions about digital communication. There is no such thing as a silly question, so consider scheduling digital training workshops to make them feel comfortable!

Extending these communication tools to all your company’s departments will ensure that remote employees always find someone to talk to and are part of daily discussions among colleagues.

4) Organizing Remote Team Building Activities

Once you have set up a remote contact, you still need to ensure the link lasts. In that perspective, you must involve managers and employees, not just the human resources department.

Remote hires should not only feel virtually integrated into their team: the link created at a distance must be cultivated and continuously maintained thanks to simple and effective team-building activitiesFor example, weekly team lunches and informal chats beyond the professional framework are easily organized remotely. As a result, they will be your greatest allies for building meaningful relationships between teammates.

Video conferencing software solutions are once again crucial to setting up these activities and are valuable to maintain a connection, even without seeing each other ‘in person’.

5) Keep Up the Good Work

Once again, organizational flexibility is essential and will allow you to adapt to remote situations without impairing some of your employees.

Team spirit can and must be maintained outside the office. With goodwill and a strong sense of organization, remote employees will feel recognized and integrated into their new company.

Employee onboarding does not stop after the first few days and on a good first impressionthe process must be perpetual, so all employees feel involved in the company’s life.

Here are our best tips for maintaining good practices over the long term, even from a distance!

Best Practices For Virtual Onboarding

1) Automate Your Entire Onboarding Process

We’ve already discussed the importance of using instant messaging applications and educating employees to maintain a connection with colleagues, even from a distance. Beyond relational issues, organizational aspects also benefit from being dematerialized. There is only one solution to avoid missing out on the challenge of remote onboarding: digitalization. In other words, using new employees onboarding software has become essential for modern companies.

Dematerializing the steps related to employees’ onboarding offers several advantages, such as relief from administrative tasks usually attributed to employees or the HR department and the end of data loss or human oversight.

Sticking to a manual process is a source of frustration and error: new-hire paperwork can be pretty discouraging for remote workers.

2) Invest in Employee Onboarding Software

An obvious and easy-to-implement digitization tool is the HRIS (Human Resources Information System), a software adapted to your company’s needs that offers a tool to manage remote onboarding easily. As we said, onboarding is not just a matter of a few days. It is a process that takes place over time. An HRIS will allow you to position yourself clearly in the different stages of this process on a platform where all the data is centralized

You can improve remote onboarding experience with Folks’ employee onboarding platform and its flexible, affordable features. Request your free demo today!

3) Involve the Entire Company

A warm welcomefrom the human resources department is a good start. Of course, regular manager check-in meetings are essential. However, you should also consider involving the entire team from the start. This can be done through a short introduction message, team video meetings presenting future teammates, or even a virtual coffee meetup with the entire team to conclude the first day. Even better: try out all of these options at once!

In addition to building team cohesion from the start, you can inform future teammates of the employee’s arrival by detailing their position and introducing them in a few sentences in a group email. In the context of remote onboarding, you can even encourage other employees to interact with the newcomer so they do not feel isolated.

Involving the whole company in the entire onboarding process will make the employee want to get involved in the organization!

4) Introduce Company Values and Company Culture

Remote employees need to quickly get a sense of the people they will work with. Dematerialize all the onboarding documents (make sure everything is available virtually) and be ready to answer any employee questions. Prepare a quick video introduction presenting company values and answering common employee questions. The new employee’s team can also create introduction videos to promote team vibes. That’s what we do at Folks, and our staff loves it!

If you can, in addition to professional equipment, send the employee goodies with the company’s logo – these little gifts are even more appreciated if you take the time to send them directly to their home!

In short, share just as much attention with your remote employees as with an employee onboarded in an office environment.

5) Gather Remote Employee Feedback

Now that you have all the tools and advice to organize efficient remote onboardings, it would be a waste to stop there and not further question your practices. Your ultimate goal should be to continuously improve your onboarding programs and your company culture. 

An obvious solution to optimize remote employee onboarding experience in your company is to ask your remote workers what they think. Remote employee feedback represents valuable information for your company. Collecting this data has numerous benefits: employees will feel heard, and their testimony will allow you to correct any error or oversight in your remote onboarding practices.

Surveys are valuable tools for learning more about your employees’ personal experiences while increasing their engagement and motivation.

Want to know more about implementing surveys in your company? Feel free to contact us!

Anticipation, adaptation, communication and dematerialization are critical to efficient remote employee onboarding.

But beyond the evolution of employee onboarding management, it is necessary to improve all HR practices during significant organizational changes. HR software are solutions adapted to our current and future needs and represent the start of a major shift towards business digital transition.

Are you interested in dematerializing your onboarding practices?

Discover our flexible onboarding features!

Request your free Folks HR demo

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