Remote onboarding 101: The ultimate strategy & checklist

Business Process Management

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Written by
Vendr Team
Published on
August 23, 2021
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For most hiring managers, recruiting talent can be one of the most expensive yet rewarding activities when growing their business. After all, your workforce is responsible for driving and supporting your company’s goals. Ultimately, they’re an investment in your company’s future.

Although new hires usually bring already-developed skills and talent, they might not yet know the inner workings of your business. To guide new hires into your company’s world, you need a process—an employee onboarding process.

This process ramps up new employees with must-know information, must-have tools, and must-do tasks, all designed to help them be productive in their new work environment.

“What if our new hires are remote?” you ask. Remote work is becoming more common, but it shouldn’t hinder a smooth, secure onboarding process.

That’s why we’ve produced this primer, a resource to help you develop an effective remote onboarding process.

What is remote onboarding?

Remote onboarding is much like employee onboarding. It’s the process of taking newcomers into your organization and giving them the skills, knowledge, and tools to be productive members of your team.

However, remote onboarding performs this process without requiring new hires to enter a brick-and-mortar space, like an office. New employees can start onboarding procedures, required training, and their remote work tasks online with a virtual onboarding process.

Why is remote onboarding important?

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the virtual onboarding of remote workers is more important than ever. Let’s face it, the world event of 2020 and 2021 has changed how companies conduct business today, forcing many to adapt or shut down.

Many have adapted via solutions that protect their workforce and the company’s health. Remote onboarding is one of those solutions.

Protecting a company’s and its employees’ health isn’t the only reason to perform remote onboarding. Onboarding a remote workforce provides a competitive advantage, too.

For example, think of this process as a software development project; the faster you produce a solution and get it to market, the quicker you reap the rewards.

So is remote onboarding. It gets talent and teams up to speed faster, so they’re spending less time handling administrative tasks and more time doing work that directly affects your company’s goals. Best of all, your workforce can work virtually anywhere, saving your company time and resources by providing and maintaining facilities.

Learn more:Why Invest In Onboarding Software? [+4 Tools].”

How does remote onboarding work?

How is onboarding remote employees different than on-site onboarding?

The main difference between the two is that a remote workforce is precisely that: remote. They aren’t coming into offices, watching videos in training rooms, filling out paperwork, or providing “wet” signatures. They are completing all of their onboarding tasks online.

The challenge, however, is how do you keep remote onboarding organized and on time while making it seamless, dynamic, and informative?

We dive more into the specifics of remote onboarding below.

How to create a remote onboarding foundation for your business

Because of its virtual aspect, remote onboarding requires more structure than on-site onboarding. It isn’t a “one-and-done” web video or telephone call either.

Onboarding can necessitate multiple sessions and many tasks, plus follow-up calls, to bring new employees up to speed.

To get your new hires started on the right foot, here are three ways to create a solid foundation for your remote onboarding process.

Start with technology

Technology sets the foundation for where the onboarding experience will take place. But new hires will need more than laptops; they’ll also need a set of instructions and tools, like software applications, to get them up and running, preferably through an automated system with personalized help.

Most (if not all) new hires will need communications tools like email and instant messaging apps, as well as tools with video and audio capabilities. Zoom and Webex can handle video and audio calls and conferencing. Also, Slack is a popular tool that includes messaging, video, and audio calling. HR tools like workforce management software can also help facilitate the onboarding process.

And, of course, provide tools specific to the new employee’s role. These tools can include MS Office Suite, desktop publishing, web publishing, and more.

Engage and connect with your participants

When possible, make the remote onboarding process interactive to keep new hires engaged and feel connected. Live, face-to-face video (or audio) calls will provide a social component easily forgotten when remotely onboarding team members.

On the other hand, if your process involves many calls and meetings, mix in various activities. Sitting for long periods and focusing on one task can affect information retention. Keep your new hires’ minds fresh with different types of breaks, like chats, break-out sessions, and virtual lunches.

Plan beyond the onboarding phases

Your onboarding plan should go beyond a new hire’s first week or their last task. When developing a remote onboarding program, consider how you’d like to keep up the new employee’s enthusiasm.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How are you making the new hire feel valued and heard?
  • Are you providing enough resources?
  • What micro-moments can you add to create belonging?
  • What method does the employee have to provide feedback?
  • How can you make the remote onboarding process better?

Remote onboarding checklist for new hires

With a proper remote onboarding foundation in place, you can then use this easy-to-remember checklist as a starting point for your onboarding process.

1. Equip your new hires with hardware, swag, and company culture materials.

Deliver a laptop and any other hardware needed as soon as possible. Your new remote employee will need this to start their onboarding process on day one. Along with their hardware, ensure you send links, videos, and articles about your company’s culture. Help them feel welcomed and appreciated by including some company swag, too.

2. Schedule appropriate orientations.

Depending on your new team member’s requirements, they might need one or many of the following orientation meetings:

  • Human resources orientation: During this orientation, your new hire will sign documents (digitally, of course), learn about their benefits, and set up employee-related accounts.
  • Communication orientation: This orientation acquaints the employee with communication tools, like messaging apps, email, and passwords to chat with the remote team and company.
  • Team orientation: Give your new team member access to team documents, like strategy documents, calendars, contact information, and organization charts.
  • Product or service orientation: This opportunity is a perfect time to share with your new teammate the heart and soul of your company. Share what exactly your company sells or does as a service. Help them understand the inner workings, history, and pricing.
  • Technology orientation: In this period, provide your new hire with additional software to do their jobs. Using a SaaS subscription management tool can automate a good portion of this process.

3. Hold role-specific training.

Whether you offer live web training or pre-recorded video training, this is the time to get into the nuts and bolts with what your teammate is here to do in their new job. This training may fall on the hiring manager or managing director or your new employee, as they bring their new hire into the fold and get them acquainted with day-to-day tasks.

4. Introduce your new team member to the team.

Building team camaraderie is especially tough with remote members. Consider setting up individual virtual coffee chats or a group video conferencing get-together. The goal here is simply for the group to get to know their teammate and help the new hire feel like a part of the team.

5. Plan regular check-ins.

Check-in with your new hire after 30, 60, and 90 days. See how they’re adjusting, if they’re meeting goals, and if they need additional resources. When possible, check in with a video call. Video interaction will help keep your new teammate engaged and, hopefully, make them feel connected.

Onboarding automation with Blissfully

Using a tool like Blissfully automates the remote onboarding process and ensures secure onboarding (and offboarding) for both your company and new hires. The platform keeps your SaaS stack continuously organized and offers workflows and automation to collaboratively manage, control, and track changes across your company, including your HR software. For example, Blissfully automatically creates email accounts, SSO credentials, and more, taking the busywork out of onboarding tasks.

Also, Blissfully’s system-of-record provides a complete, real-time view of the tools used by which department, at what level, and through which license, assisting teams to select the new hire’s tools to be productive on their first day. And with automated workflows, you can store and reuse new hire onboarding templates to further streamline your onboarding tasks.

To see how Vendr can help onboard your remote employees, request a demo today.

Further reading:Introducing IT automation, a better way to grow your business.”

Vendr Team
Vendr's team of SaaS and negotiation experts provide their curated insights into the latest trends in software, tool capabilities, and modern procurement strategies.

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