Blog and News


  • May 28, 2020

The world of onboarding has been given a virtual makeover as many candidates across the country face their first day at a new job from the comfort of their own homes. According to Glassdoor, the average UK employer spends about £3000 on every new starter and so now more than ever it’s crucial to make sure our remote onboarding efforts are well-received and candidates have the best possible experience to create a strong foundation from day one.

How can you guarantee remote employees hit the ground running during a time when social distancing is not only encouraged, but in many places, compulsory?  Onboarding new employees virtually is something companies can do with the right amount of planning, coordination, and proper tools. If you’re considering taking your onboarding process virtual over the next few months, here are a few areas to consider as you map out your new hire’s welcome into the organisation.

Before They Start

  • Confirm their start date with the rest of the team and agree who will be responsible for different elements of the induction and training processes.
  • Check in with your new starter regularly
  • Ensure that all of the necessary paperwork has been completed. Copies of contracts and policies can be sent and returned via email.  Employment contracts and other legal documents are notoriously time-consuming –investigate legally binding tools like DocuSign and HelloSign now and integrate them into your hiring process.
  • Get Tech in place - The last thing you want is your employee spending their first few days in the job going backwards and forwards with your IT team, setting up equipment and troubleshooting.  Make sure they have all the necessary equipment ahead of their start date.  Ensure they have access to any licensed software, log-in details and access to a secure WIFI connection.
  • A common onboarding practice is to provide new employees with gifts on their first day in the office. Gestures like this are even more important when your new hire is a remote worker.

Day One

  • Start by sending around a company-wide email to introduce the new starter
  • If you typically do an in-person welcome presentation introducing the company then replace it with a video call.
  • Schedule video meetings on their first day with the manager and wider team so they can get that human connection.
  • Describe the best ways to contact team members and other departments.  Make sure they know where to go if they have any questions
  • Team Lunch – Why not replace the first day lunch with a virtual video chat with the team, you could even order a Deliveroo for your new starter.


The First Few Months

  1. Make them feel part of the team

The majority of employees make their long-term employment decisions within the first 6 months, 33% decide within the first week.  Make your objective to create a positive experience in which your remote new employee feels as included and supported as they would have been joining an in-office environment 

Feedback we have received from candidates who have started their new position remotely is that face-face contact is vital to feel part of the team and help to build relationships with colleagues.  In addition to the initial induction we suggest you encourage face-face contact as much as possible.  Having closer relationships with colleagues with ease the new employees anxiety and increase their engagement

It’s a nice idea to schedule in some time for non-work communications too, such as a team quiz or ‘get to know each other’ session.

  1. Establish a mentoring or buddy program

This is another classic onboarding initiative, but it’s one that can easily be neglected in a remote working context.  Assign them a buddy or mentor and encourage the buddy/mentor to use video conferencing technology to interact with the remote worker during the onboarding process. This can include taking them through company procedures, giving general advice and guidance, facilitating introductions to other people in the business, or organising virtual coffee-catch ups and informal chats.

  1. Culture

Company culture is just as important in onboarding as day-to-day duties and responsibilities, but it’s sometimes easy to forget this when we are working remotely. Introduce your virtual employees to the background and history of the company and other interesting information. A good remote introduction to the business should include: a breakdown of the company values, a high level description of the company (history, milestones, mission statement, business goals etc.). Share any employee literature that’s available, such as an employee handbook, company presentations etc.  

  1. Set Clear Objectives and Goals

Onboarding employees with a clear picture of their duties and what is expected of them builds the foundations for success. You should verify that new employees understand their tasks and the systems they’ll use in their work.

Set clear, daily expectations during calls so the employee knows what to focus on throughout the day and can plan out their activities.    Setting out clear objectives is a great way to give new employees purpose and make them feel like they are making progress.  As time goes on and your new recruit will have built more understanding and naturally will have become more autonomous. As a result, you’ll find these check-in meetings will become less frequent, but more productive.  It is also a good idea to set out short and long-term goals from the offset so they have an idea of the bigger picture. Make sure hiring managers develop and share a task calendar with their new team member.

  1. Review Progress Regularly

Many organisations shy away from consistent reviewing of their employees, for many reasons, including time constraints or a lack of adequately trained management.  This process is more important than ever to ensure your new employee is on track and feels supported.  Under normal circumstances there is opportunity for more frequent informal reviews of performance and checking understanding.  As there is much less opportunity to do this when employees are working remotely It is essential to incorporate a more structured review process to ensure that the individual does not feel neglected. 

Provide your employee with a framework of what their reviews will look like. This should include the questions you are going to ask, such as what they have found to be challenging, what they are enjoying and what support they need.

It is also important to consider reviewing your remote onboarding process.  This is new to most of us and you may receive some useful feedback to help with your next new starter. 

  1. Training

Scheduling training is difficult at the best of times, but it’s important that specific training for remote workers always goes ahead as planned

Depending on what market you work in, there could be a considerable amount of training to be covered in the first few months. It might seem tricky initially to transfer what would normally be taught in person into a virtual process, but it can be done.

To effectively train remote workers, use interactive training courses where possible.
Utilise screen sharing tools such as Skype or Join.Me. Engage relevant trainers and buddies such as IT staff, line managers, subject matter experts, and ensure regular follow-ups are made.  

If you already have an onboarding process in place, you’ll want to modify your content to be accessible for virtual workers. If you typically have the learner sitting with someone to review tools and systems, consider replacing that with short eLearning instructional videos.   Video training sessions can be pre-recorded and made available for the new employee to watch and work through virtually, at their own pace. The beauty of this is once a session has been recorded, it can then be used again in the future for any further recruits.

Webinars are also used frequently as a training tool and can be held live to encourage interaction and Q&A sessions. This approach can be particularly valuable in terms of maintaining an interactive element with other members of the team.  Teams can quickly foster a sense of belonging with their new colleagues if they’re involved with helping to train them, working with them on similar projects and getting familiar through daily video meetings

  1. Check in on Well-being

New hires are usually anxious about their role and responsibilities. This is exacerbated for remote employees, who have the added disadvantage of needing to figure out many procedures and best practices on their own.  In addition to this many remote employees suffer from loneliness at least in initially.  With this is mind it is more important than ever to consider employee well-being.  From checking in regularly, providing mentorship, to creating a safe space for honest and relaxed communication, you need to provide support in every sense to help your new recruit to reach that familiarity and level of comfort that organically occurs in an office environment.