Looking for the ultimate remote employee onboarding checklist?
Employee onboarding can be a daunting task. And as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s become a bit more complicated. In fact, many companies have had to reimagine the role of talent acquisition.
With an increasing number of companies moving towards remote hiring, every hiring manager and human resources team faces a new challenge — remote employee onboarding.
But don’t worry, we’ve drawn up the perfect checklist template for your team.
In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about remote employee onboarding. We’ll also give you a simple yet comprehensive 10 step onboarding checklist to help you with the virtual onboarding process.
This Article Contains:
- How Is Remote Employee Onboarding Different From In-House Onboarding?
- 10 Step Remote Employee Onboarding Checklist
- Step 1: Send IT Equipment To New Employee
- Step 2: Help New Employee Complete Paperwork
- Step 3: Send Remote Employee Your Employee Handbook
- Step 4: Make Sure Remote Employee Has All Software Installed: Time Doctor
- Step 5: Welcome And Introduce New Employee
- Step 6: Train Your Remote Team
- Step 7: Set Goals And Expectations
- Step 8: Remote Employee Team Building
- Step 9: Consistent Check-In Calls
- Step 10: Arrange In-Person Meeting If Possible
Let’s dive in.
How Is Remote Employee Onboarding Different From In-House Onboarding?
Sure, remote team members won’t be able to arrive at the office on their first day, shake other team members’ hands, or even take an office tour.
But there are a few other reasons why your onboarding checklist for your remote workforce has to be different.
For starters, as in-house new hires have face-to-face communication, they feel more connected to the company, their team members, and work culture. These factors contribute to how invested an employee feels to stay with your company in the long run.
However, with remote onboarding, your new hires won’t come into the office, so it’s difficult to hand over welcome gifts, chat over lunch, or attend company events.
Additionally, managers can’t walk past their desks to check-in on how the employee is settling in, and new teammates can’t participate in water-cooler conversations.
Because remote onboarding largely relies on video conferencing, communication can be ineffectual sometimes.
The challenge here is: how do you make sure your new hires have an effective onboarding experience without face-to-face communication?
The answer lies in having a structured onboarding process.
Let’s take a look at what you should include in your new employee onboarding checklist.
10 Step Remote Employee Onboarding Checklist
Every onboarding process has many steps, and it’s important not to forget any of them, especially for remote employees.
Missing out on a step during the remote employee onboarding process might leave those team members with impartial information. This can lead to communication problems and confusions way down the line.
For example, if there’s no clarity over how to use your company’s task management software, the new hires will find it challenging to tackle their first task.
Additionally, a poor remote onboarding experience can lead to lower engagement, which in turn, leads to lower employee retention rates.
To help you avoid these employee onboarding issues, here’s a 10 step onboarding checklist that will ensure your remote team has the best possible onboarding experience:
Step 1: Send IT Equipment To New Employee
This is an optional step for remote onboarding since remote employees often have their own laptops, mouse, and headset.
But if your company has specific computers and hardware that every employee needs to use, then sending equipment before their first day should be a part of your onboarding plan.
Ask your IT department to free up their schedule to assist with the set-up procedure.
Step 2: Help The New Employee Complete Paperwork
Contracts and other paperwork are an integral part of any employee onboarding process.
But when you’re onboarding remote employees, some team members might not have scanning equipment.
So to make the employee onboarding process easier, ask them to acknowledge the contract via email or use an e-signature tool like DocuSign.
Step 3: Send Remote Employee Employee Handbooks
One of the most important steps for remote onboarding, sending employee handbooks helps clarify the standard at which your new hires need to operate.
Your handbook should include information about employment basics, workplace policies, and company culture.
The HR team should ensure that the handbook is concise and has been checked by senior HR professionals.
A well-written handbook clarifies the job descriptions, promotion opportunities, and benefits to a new employee — this helps improve the onboarding experience and boosts employee retention.
Here is a sample handbook template to help you create the perfect employee handbook.
Your employee handbook should also have a remote work policy. A remote work policy further clarifies what a remote employee can expect from your company.
Here are some important sections your policy should cover:
- Eligibility for remote work: look at what roles can be done remotely and what skills your current or potential new hires need to work remotely.
- Work hours and availability: discuss the required remote work hours and availability of your new hires for regular check-ins.
- Workspace and etiquette guidelines: help your employee stay motivated and productive by introducing a code of conduct for remote working.
- Maintaining data security: inform your remote employee on how they can protect company information. For example, ask them to avoid public WiFi networks and always work with a secured internet connection.
- Financial and technical support: mention if your company plans to reimburse remote workers for phone, internet, and electricity bills. Also, let employees know how you plan to provide technical support.
- Legal rights: ensure every remote employee knows about their benefits, promotion opportunities, and training.
Note: While remote work details can also be included in the offer letter, it’s best to have separate onboarding documents which are far more detailed.
Step 4: Ensure The Remote Employee Has Installed Required Software
Your onboarding plan needs to include the virtual office software and team collaboration tools the remote team needs for communication as well as to perform their tasks.
Make sure every remote team member has the correct software installed before their start date. It’s also important to provide them with onboarding material like manuals on how to set up and use the software for their remote work.
Apart from employee onboarding software, you should also have software for:
- Video conferencing (Skype, Zoom, Microsoft Teams)
- Group messaging (Slack)
- Document collaboration (Google Drive, Dropbox)
- Project management (Asana, ClickUp, Trello)
You need a powerful employee productivity management tool, like Time Doctor, to give your remote workers a way to avoid distractions and manage their workflow.
What Is Time Doctor?
Time Doctor is a powerful employee productivity tracking and performance management tool.
Used by large organizations, like Verizon and RE/MAX, as well as by small businesses, like Thrive Market, Time Doctor is suitable for a team of any size and structure.
Here’s what you can do with Time Doctor:
- See how long remote workers take on every project or task.
- Access daily and weekly summary reports to see employee performance.
- Track idle time based on the percentage of seconds and minutes spent idle.
- Manage employee payroll with ease.
- Monitor productivity across project management apps like ClickUp, Jira, Asana, and more.
However, remember to clarify what software your company uses, in your remote work policy or other onboarding documents. This way, the new hires will know how they’ll collaborate with other team members and how their work will be monitored.
Step 5: Welcome And Introduce The New Employee To The Company
This is a step in the remote onboarding process that has to be well thought through and impactful — especially because you have to execute the whole orientation process within a remote environment.
Your remote onboarding process should have a well-laid out orientation program that will help new employees feel welcomed, informed, and integrated into your company.
How do you do this?
Your onboarding program can include sending every virtual employee, welcome merchandise like branded t-shirts and stationery.
On day one, send them a personalized welcome email, letter, or video from the company CEO or team leader.
The next step is to introduce the new employee to the entire team. To do this, notify the company that a new team member has joined so they can send them welcome messages.
It’s also a good idea to provide the new remote worker with an onboarding buddy to help them get started with ease. This way, they won’t have to figure out things by themselves — the onboarding buddy can guide them through the entire onboarding process.
Also, set up team video calls so that your remote employee can get a head start on familiarizing themselves with their team and every other worker they will collaborate with
Step 6: Train Your Remote Team
Your remote onboarding program should include innovative ways to train your remote team.
Use video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype to train your new remote employee by using the screen-sharing feature.
To further boost employee engagement during remote onboarding, use virtual reality to make remote employees feel as though they are sitting with other new hires in a physical room.
You can also conduct interactive training courses with games and quizzes to improve employee experience.
Next, send every employee detailed documents to familiarize themselves with the company’s products or services. You should also send videos to explain product features or a screen recording explaining how you want projects to be done.
Once each training session is complete, ask every new employee if they have any questions or concerns.
Step 7: Set Goals And Expectations
As you won’t see your new hires in person or walk past their desk to check-in on them, you need to be very clear about what you expect from them throughout the remote onboarding process.
How well a remote employee performs and the results they bring are what you can see.
So to help them perform well, you should:
- Have a task that the employee can start on.
- Share a task list or calendar.
- Discuss short-term and long-term goals.
- Schedule weekly team or managerial meetings to discuss projects and any concerns.
Step 8: Remote Employee Team Building
In order to keep every employee engaged even after the onboarding process, organize virtual team building activities for your remote team.
You can do this by creating a volunteer remote team-building committee that makes sure there are upcoming activities. Outback has some really good games and activities you can choose from.
The volunteer team can also track how effective the team-building exercises are for every new remote employee.
Step 9: Consistent Check-In Calls
Have a set schedule in your remote onboarding checklist for communication with the new employee after their first week, first month, and first quarter on the new job. This way, you can ensure they’re settling into their new role and working productively.
Step 10: Arrange In-Person Meeting If Possible
Although this isn’t possible for a remote team that is distributed across different countries, if your remote employee is based near your office, you could arrange an on-site meeting date sometime during the employee onboarding process.
Or you could opt for annual company events and retreats. Not only does this help your remote team put names to faces, but it’ll also improve remote team bonding and cohesion.
Remote employee onboarding doesn’t have to be difficult.
With the right remote employee onboarding checklist, you can provide your employee with information about company culture while keeping them engaged.
Use the 10 step checklist we covered here to create the best remote employee onboarding process according to your needs. Once that’s done, every remote employee will have a fantastic experience during their onboarding process with your company.
Liam Martin is the co-founder of Time Doctor—one of the world’s leading time tracking software for remote teams. He is also the co-organizer of Running Remote, the world’s largest remote work conference.