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7 Tips for Onboarding Employees in a Remote Environment

Jan 24, 2022 · 6 MIN READ

Starting a new job is exciting! It’s almost like that first day of school feeling, only now, it’s the first day on the job. In years past, when we started a new job, we’d prepare an outfit the night before, wake up for our commute, and arrive early for our first day. Now, we’re all starting new jobs in a remote environment, so our first day of work and our onboarding processes look slightly different. 

As an employer, you want your employees to experience that first day of work feeling as if they were heading to an office on day one. To make that happen, there are a few things you can do. It’s not as challenging as you might think to remotely onboard your employees into your workplace and company culture. 

In this article, we’ll walk through seven tips for onboarding your employees in a remote environment. Let’s get started!

Welcome employees before their start date

Feeling like part of the team should begin even before the start date. When there is a new hire on the team, encourage their future teammates to reach out via email or LinkedIn to introduce themselves and welcome them to the team. If they didn’t get a chance to meet during the hiring process, encourage them to set up a quick coffee chat to connect. A simple hello can make your new hire feel welcomed before they enter the virtual team meeting on their first day.

Send a first day of work swag box

Everyone loves company swag. Getting company swag prior to the first day or on the first day is a great way to make employees feel like they’re part of the team. Get your new employee set up with the tech they’ll need, like a laptop, monitor, headset, and keyboard. And, when you send the new tech their way, add in some branded swag so that your employee can decorate their home office and rock their new logo at home. 

Some examples to add into an onboarding swag box are: 

  • Company logo stickers 
  • Company t-shirts
  • Branded hat 
  • Company waterbottle
  • Company coffee mug 
  • Branded notebook 
  • A company handbook 

When it comes to feeling like part of the team, company swag like stickers and t-shirts can make all the difference for the first day of work.

Organize onboarding cohorts

Nobody likes to be the lone new kid on the block. Starting a new job is more fun when you have a group to go through the onboarding process with. Your company’s hiring team or HR department can set a new hire schedule in which groups, or cohorts of new hires, start on the same day. That way, you can organize larger training sessions, onboarding activities, and have routine check-ins as time goes on. 

Onboarding cohorts should be company-wide, not just team-based. Not only does it make onboarding and training more manageable because you’ll be able to conduct larger training sessions, but you’re also giving employees who might not typically interact a chance to get to know one another.

Give your new hires the spotlight

Since we’re no longer passing one another in the company kitchen or hallway, announcing new hires is an excellent way for everyone to meet new members of the team. Although your new hires are meeting their direct teammates and building relationships with their onboarding cohort, you should also give the whole company a chance to get to know them. 

If you’re at a small company, you can send an email, send a team Slack message, or announce your latest hire in your company meeting. If you’re a larger company, you can highlight your new hires on your company wiki, intranet, or Slack channel. To make it more fun, you can send a questionnaire to your new hire and incorporate their fun facts in their company-wide introduction.

Schedule formal training and networking events

No matter what your company does, your new hires need to be trained. Since you’ve organized onboarding cohorts, it will be much easier to conduct in-depth formal training sessions. Tap your internal experts and leaders to host training sessions on technology, your product or solution, and role-specific lessons. 

Of course, training during onboarding is critical for success on the job. But, be sure that you schedule networking hours too so that your new hires can get a taste of company culture. You can schedule networking hours for the individual onboarding cohorts, and you should encourage teams to schedule team hangouts so that everyone can get to know one another.

Build an onboarding guide

From tech onboarding to meeting the team to learning about culture, your new hire should get a guide that shows them everything they need to know. With everything being remote, building a one-stop shop for your new hire can help them quickly get up to speed. You can send this to them on their first day or even prior to their first day so that they get a head start. 

Key elements that should be in an onboarding guide: 

  • Key meetings to attend 
  • Expectations 
  • Onboarding and training schedule 
  • Who to meet with on and off the team 
  • Websites, platforms, and tools that the company uses 
  • Team quirks such as Slack channels to join, team events, etc. 
  • First projects and goals 
  • 30-60-90 plan 

A good balance of technology, HR, goals, and team quirks will help your new hires learn how your business operates and what they can expect as a new member of the team. Plus, once you create one onboarding guide, you can make a template that can be repeated for each new hire, which will ensure that all of your new hires have positive onboarding experiences in our remote work environment!

Foster one on one relationships

Outside of the onboarding cohort, help your new hires build one on one relationships with other employees. There are two types of beneficial partnerships you can foster—an onboarding buddy and an onboarding mentor. 

The onboarding buddy should be someone outside of your new hire’s direct team and someone that they’ll be crossing paths with frequently. This person can help them navigate their first few weeks of work, all while building a work friendship. 

The onboarding mentor should be someone who is a senior leader within the team who can help them adjust to the workload, prepare for team meetings, and ask questions about job responsibilities. 

Both the onboarding buddy and mentor are equally important for new hires. They should feel supported by their colleagues on a personal and professional level so that they can quickly feel like a part of the team. 

Starting a new job in a remote environment should feel just as exciting as it would if we were back in the office. Your onboarding experience may look a little different, but with these remote onboarding tips, your new hires will feel welcomed and like part of the team on day one.


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