Remote Onboarding - How can you make it as seamless as possible?

Oct 23, 2020

Stacey McIntosh, Editor-in-Chief of Sage Advice UK, shares with us her top tips for making remote onboarding as seamless as possible...

The way your company onboards its employees is likely to have both short and long-term implications. Not only does the way you onboard affect first impressions, but a smooth and robust onboarding process can boost retention as it instills confidence in the employee of the company’s capabilities from the offset. 

Businesses are operating under a new normal and, for those continuing to hire employees, effective onboarding is even more important (and perhaps more difficult) now as many workers may be working remotely – and potentially for some time. 

In this article, we’ll provide you with tips on how to refine and improve your onboarding. Bear in mind, while the elements usually stay the same, parts of this process should be unique to your business and its values.

1) Send a pre-start email 

Your new starter is probably feeling some first-day jitters. 

Sending a positive welcome email before they start can help to ease their nerves and sets the tone for how supportive your business is. It also shows you’re thinking of their needs from the outset. 

A welcome email should contain: 

  • A friendly hello and introduction if you’ve not met them before
  • First-day information, including a start time and schedule 
  • Documents they’ll need to send over, such as a passport scan, and why you need these
  • If they’re remote, information on what equipment is being sent to them, such as a laptop, mouse, keyboard, stand or even an office chair, if you have the budget
  • Instructions on how to log on, including how the new starter should set their laptop password, email and any tools they might need
  • Information for any pre-arranged meetings set up for them in week one

2. Deliver the equipment 

Discuss with your new starter the best way for them to receive their equipment and make sure it gets to them in plenty of time before their start date so they can set everything up. 

3. Arrange a welcome meeting 

On their first day, arrange a video call first with an HR team member to talk them through relevant HR documents. 

This could be: 

  • An employee handbook 
  • Safety rules and regulations 
  • Payment and pension information 
  • Benefits and perks 
  • A company presentation – this could include the company’s story so far, what it’s hoping to achieve and a short bio of the employees with a picture

3. Write a welcome email to the team or wider company 

Once your new employee has begun, make sure everyone knows about their arrival by sending a company or team-wide email. Include them in the email just in case anyone needs to contact them directly. 

In the email, explain what new starter’s job role is and maybe some background information, such as their experience or a fun fact. 

4. Arrange a team chat

To help your new employee feel relaxed, you could arrange a remote team chat, perhaps during a lunchtime or after work. Everyone could grab some food or a drink and play a game. This should help the starter get to know their new team in an informal setting.

5. Check in regularly

Ask the new starter how they’re getting on and if there’s anything they need at this point. If they’ve finished reading through the employee documents from the HR chat, give them some useful reading, such as industry blogs to follow or case studies.   

6. Show them the HR system 

Occasionally, some of the smallest things get overlooked when onboarding new team members. Be sure to check you have all the right information for your new hire in the system by showing how your HR software works, covering how to book holidays or log sick leave, and getting them to verify anything important. Make sure they know when and how they’ll be receiving their payslips and that they understand how the information is presented – this will be important if there’s been a mistake with their tax code and it needs to be corrected in the system.

As you’re doing this, make sure their information is correct on the system and explain that this is for payroll purposes. 

7. Set up individual meetings with team leads 

Even if your new starter’s role isn’t directly related to every part of the company, meeting with some (if not all) of the department heads will help them get more insight into the team structure and how their team fits into the wider business. Then if your new starter has a question regarding a certain task, they’ll know who to go to. 

8. Develop a plan of action

Depending on your new employee’s job role and experience, you could either develop a list of tasks that you’d like them to complete or work with them to discuss their agenda for the next couple of weeks. 

If your employee is quite junior, week one should involve a handful of tasks so as to not overwhelm them, whereas more senior roles may want to jump straight in. 

9. Complete mandatory training (if applicable) 

Whether it’s going through process documents or teaching a particular tool, if your employee requires any training for their role, it would be a good idea to set this up within the first week. 

10. Set some probationary goals

After the first couple of weeks, work with your employee to set some short-term goals, both from your side and theirs of what to achieve in the next two to three months. 


The value of effective onboarding 

The current climate has given employee onboarding much more weight, taking this once standard business practice to crucial heights. Onboarding that has time, effort and thoughtfulness behind it can be the difference between an employee feeling valued or overlooked. Do it well and your business will be filled with employees who know they’re being supported. 

 What do you make of these tips? Have you used any when onboarding remotely? Discuss below!

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