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Onboarding Remotely: Tips and Tricks to Smooth the Process

Jul 29, 2020
Onboarding Remotely: Tips and Tricks to Smooth the Process
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The coronavirus pandemic has complicated the hiring process for many businesses. A large portion of companies are working on a remote basis, with plans to go completely or mostly remote when the pandemic runs its course. Hiring and onboarding new employees virtually is an obstacle that HR departments around the world are learning to overcome.

Being a new worker at a new company can already be hard – but add in the additional difficulty of being onboarded remotely and you have the potential for disaster on your hands. Luckily, there are ways to smooth out the virtual hiring and onboarding process. Keep reading to learn some tips and tricks to successfully onboard a new employee remotely.

Tip #1: Create a watertight hiring process

Recruiting in the age of COVID-19 can be tough. Once you’ve filtered through applications and chosen the candidates who are going to the next phase, it’s critical to set up an interview process that actually makes sense. 

Because you won’t have one-on-one time with the candidate in the real world, consider creating a comprehensive document that explains the full process and timeline for hiring and onboarding. If multiple interviews are being held, you may want to send out a schedule to candidates with information about who they’re meeting virtually. 

It’s also a good idea to send out a video conference link before the interview is scheduled so that candidates have the chance to test out their video and audio connection. This can help catch any issues beforehand and avoids wasted time.

Michael Hawkins
Franchise Owner of Interim HealthCare SLC

Interim Healthcare SLC needed HR technology, and we’re pleased with the results we’ve gained from HR Cloud’s solutions for recruiting, onboarding, and employee engagement. Yet it’s an opportunity for all Interim franchises. It would be so great if each franchise owner could implement similar solutions to replace legacy systems that might not work as well as they should.”


Tip #2: Screen potential remote employees

If you’re hiring employees for a fully remote position, you need workers who are motivated self-starters. As a hiring manager, it’s important to carefully scrutinize an applicant’s employment history to find clues about his or her career path, goals, and ability to work remotely. For example, if a candidate has worked in a remote capacity before, there’s a good chance that he or she will do well in another remote position. 

In addition to formal screening, ask questions during the interview process specific to working remotely. Below are a few questions you may want to ask.

  • Have you ever worked remotely?

  • What’s your communication style?

  • What steps will you take to get to know your fellow workers?

  • Have you worked with a distributed team before?

  • Do you have a reliable internet connection?

  • Where do you prefer to work?

  • How would you rate your technology skills?

  • How do you stay focused on your work tasks?

  • Do you consider yourself organized? What organizational tools do you use?

  • What issues do you think might come up as you work from home and what will you do to mitigate these issues?

  • What do you like/dislike about working in an office?

  • How do you switch “off” from work while you’re working from home?

These are just some questions you may want to consider asking a candidate that can give you better insight into whether or not he or she will be successful in a work-from-home position. 

Tip #3: Use quality technology

Besides giving a remote employee a phone, laptop, and other necessary office equipment, it’s also important to make sure that you’ve also given new employees resources and user-friendly platforms to use to navigate work. For example, a project management system is essential for employees who need to organize and track progress on multiple projects happening simultaneously.

It’s also important to set up strong video conferencing platforms so both internal and external meetings can happen seamlessly.

And finally, HR managers and hiring managers need to make sure that new employees have access to payroll, handbooks, training manuals, PTO information, benefits, and other essential information in an online platform. Centralizing all of this information makes it easier for all your employees to stay on the same page.



Tip #4: Foster an inclusive team culture

Just because your company is fully remote doesn’t mean the company culture has to wither and die. When you’re onboarding a new employee, consider setting up a virtual happy hour to acquaint the rest of the team with him or her. To avoid the awkwardness that can come with video happy hours, make sure to plan out some games and icebreakers. For example, you can make everyone go around and play a round of “Show and Tell” where each employee has to show something from their home and explain the object. 

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Tip #5: Set realistic goals and expectations

Even if you have the smartest new employee in the world with the best technology, that new person can still face an uphill battle. When you can’t explain a task well in real-life one-on-one with someone, it can mean that a new employee has a larger learning curve. It’s important to start a new person off slowly and recognize that remote onboarding can create some delays. 

Make sure that your new hire has regular check-in meetings where you can meet with them and figure out how he or she is feeling. These meetings are an excellent way to make a new employee feel supported instead of isolated and discouraged.

Tip #6: Match remote workers with a remote buddy

A “buddy program” is an excellent way for a new employee to get used to the ins and outs of a new company. It can be less intimidating for someone new to chat with their “buddy” in a one-on-one situation instead of being introduced to the entire team. A designated buddy can help an employee learn technology like Slack or project management software in addition to answers other day-to-day questions that may arise. 

Tip #7: Write up a remote work policy

A remote work policy makes sure everyone (not just new employees) understands the expectations for working from home. This is especially important if you expect your workers to answer emails or internal messages within a certain period of time.

Takeaways: Onboarding Remotely

Although the pandemic has forced many businesses to transform how they operate, it’s given many companies the chance to innovate and grow. Hiring managers are faced with the particularly tough challenge of onboarding new employees remotely, but with the right strategy and framework, you can easily bring on talent without hiccups.


About author

Samantha Rupp holds a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and is the managing editor for She lives in San Diego, California and enjoys spending time on the beach, reading up on current industry trends, and traveling.


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