How to successfully navigate remote onboarding

09 February 2022 Sharyn Waterworth

Remote onboarding

An effective onboarding process for new employees, whether it’s in person or a remote onboarding (as is increasingly the norm), is an overlooked revenue driver for businesses. 


Don’t believe us? This blog will explain:


  • Why 1 in 10 people end up leaving a company because of their experience with poor onboarding

  • How companies with an effective onboarding process achieve 2.5 times more revenue growth and 1.9 times the profit margin compared to organisations with poor onboarding strategies

  • Quick and easy ways you can improve your business’ onboarding experience

What is remote onboarding?

Remote onboarding is the process of integrating and welcoming your new employees into your company, so they can be an effective and contributing memberof your team. 


The goal of remote onboarding is the exact same as onboarding in person and that is: to get your new employee up to speed and feeling confident in their new role (plus a few extra tech and tool adjustments). 


A good onboarding process means taking your new employee through these steps:

  • Explaining their role and responsibilities in depth;

  • Detailing the hierarchy and who they will be reporting to;

  • Introducing them to their team and facilitating their initial social interactions; 

  • Setting them up on the communication platforms your company uses;

  • Teaching them how to use unfamiliar technologies;

  • Running through policies and procedures; 

  • Getting them up to speed on company culture and values;

  • Answering their questions and making sure they feel well adjusted.

Why is onboarding important?

Imagine it’s your first day at a new company — you’re pointed in the direction of your desk and told to get set up. You pester your cubicle buddies and manage to log in to your email. Now, it’s midday, and no one has taken the time to sit down and walk you through your new workspace and what they expect you to actually deliver. You’ve barely seen your manager. 


Now, it’s been a month. You’ve managed to piece together what your responsibilities are, but you feel like a bit of an outcast and you’re really not sure what your company stands for. You feel lost, unsupported and disengaged. 


It’s not hard to see why 1 in 10 people end up leaving a company because of their experience with poor onboarding. And the consequences for the company? A high employee turnover rate. Which means more time and money spent on job advertising. 


If that wasn’t enough to convince you a good onboarding process is worth it, then how about this: companies that have effective onboarding processesin place achieve 2.5 times more revenue growth and 1.9 times the profit margin compared to organisations with poor onboarding strategies. 


So, why does good onboarding equal more revenue? Employees who are onboarded properly stick around longer, plus they're more likely to be engaged in the culture and be more productive. 

Remote onboarding challenges

  1. Technical issues

Diagnosing and resolving technical issues can be harder when you’re onboarding a new employee remotely. If you were able to meet in-person, you might be able to just pinpoint and fix the problem yourself. It can be frustrating, for both you and your employee. 


Make sure your systems and processes are well documented and a list of common problems or FAQs are available for troubleshooting purposes. If all else fails? Make sure you also have a remote IT department (although, they might just tell you to turn it off and on again). 

  1. Hesitancy to ask questions

Your new recruit is probably feeling nervous about their first day (especially because it’s happening virtually). This could mean they’re more reluctant to ask “newbie questions” i.e. questions that are obvious to you, but are a whole new world to them. 

Encourage your recruit to ask any questions they may have, emphasising that it’s okay if they don’t know everything yet (they don’t have to!) and that no question is silly or too obvious. 

  1. Virtual team building

Because your team isn’t in an office, socialising online might feel a little less natural to your new employees (at least in the beginning). Of course, everyone texts and messages in their personal life, but striking up a conversation with a coworker without any prior rapport? It can feel a little uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing. 

That’s why it’s your job to facilitate team building exercises that create an enjoyable environment. Because having a strong team means everyone performs better. You could try:

  • Holding a friendly challenge; 

  •  Asking your team to use an app like Donut on Slack (it pairs people up at random to initiate a chat) or put everyone's names in a hat and do it that way;

  • Create different channels to communicate different topics. For instance you could have a “good news” channel or a “memes” channel where everyone can share their wins and laughs;

  • Have Friday drinks, but do it virtually;

  • Get everyone to take a personality test and share their results;

  • Organise team virtual lunches and events.

  1. Lack of documentation

A problem you might come up against when onboarding is a lack of documentation. That means your systems and processes aren’t in a shareable document — they’re all in your head. 

In order to communicate effectively with your new recruit, you’ll need to have everything written down. Even basic or seemingly self explanatory processes or expectations.

Once it’s all documented, make sure it’s available to be accessed at any time, so employees can get clarification on areas they’re uncertain of, without having to ask you for it.  

Remote onboarding checklist

  • Get all paperwork signed before your new employee starts (contracts, payment details, superannuation forms etc.)

  • Create an agenda that details what you’d like your employees first week to look like and what they should have achieved by the end of it;

  • Send them a welcome email. Let them know you’re excited for them to join the company, walk them through what they can expect on their first day and week, and reassure them they can ask questions at any time;

  • Provide a welcome kit. This should include company information, a handbook for getting started and any company benefits they should know about;

  • Match your recruit with another team member. This person will be their buddy (and friend!) while they’re getting their footing;

  • Add your new recruit to the appropriate communication channels/platforms and remind your team to involve them;

  • Hold their virtual orientation. Go over the company mission, values and culture. Make sure they know where to find contact information and organisational tools, as well as a clear breakdown of their roles and responsibilities. 

  • Depending on the complexity of the job and systems, having IT walk your new recruit through programs, software protocols and installation is usually a good idea. 

  • Introduce them to their team! Try to make their introduction as low-key and relaxed as possible, and avoid putting them on the spot. 

  • If your new recruit needs specific job-training, get them all setup, communicate how much time should be dedicated to it and let them know what you expect by the end of it. 

  • You might think your onboarding is done after week one, but an effective onboarding plan should last at least 90 days. This ensures your employee feels supported and like you’re invested in their success. Encourage feedback and continue to check in.