6 Best Practices for Your New Virtual Onboarding Process

Hiring Remote

In this quick guide, we’ll share our favorite virtual onboarding best practices to help new remote hires feel welcomed and invested long before their first day.

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Whether your business has recently turned remote thanks to COVID-19, or you’ve been thriving as a remote company for years, your virtual onboarding process could probably use an upgrade.

After all, it may be quite some time before you actually meet your new hires in-person (if you ever do). And now that we all have the basics of the virtual onboarding process down, savvy companies are fine-tuning their approach for even better results.

Why spend all this time and effort? 

Because a solid onboarding process helps new employees feel welcome and like they’re already part of the team. You’ll help smooth their transition, make it less overwhelming, and gradually get everyone accustomed to the new workflow. In turn, your new team members will be excited and eager to get to work.

On the flip-side, a poor onboarding experience creates stress and confusion early on, which may leave new employees wondering if they made the wrong choice. The last thing you want is a new hire to continue taking interviews when they should be planting roots with your company.

So to boost your chances of the former and prevent the latter, we’re sharing our favorite best practices for your virtual onboarding process in this guide. Let’s start by building the right foundation:

How to Onboard New Work From Home Employees

We created a guide that lays out all the important “how-to” details for creating a virtual onboarding process for your company. Since we covered that topic in-depth during that guide, here’s a snippet of the steps you’ll need to take: 

  1. Create a remote onboarding process and set expectations. A standardized process keeps team members and new hires in the loop together. It also gets people comfortable with what’s expected of them.

  2. Offer virtual training via online videos. These could be related to their new job, your company culture, operating practices, etc.

  3. Give employees access to communication tools, project management software, and more. As they become more familiar using these (and learning their quirks), you may experience fewer hiccups when they actually start.

  4. Check-in on a set schedule, which helps balance your other tasks with reaching out (and won’t overwhelm new hires).

Check out the full virtual onboarding guide when you’re done here to get a better idea of how to properly onboard your new remote team members.

Now you’re fit to take your virtual onboarding process to the next level.

6 Best Practices for Your New Virtual Onboarding Process

These virtual onboarding best practices take the process one step further to guarantee a positive experience that excites new employees and improves retention:

1. Start Your Onboarding Process Early

Remote companies often wait until an employee’s first day to get the ball rolling with onboarding. We think there’s a better strategy to take, and it starts well before your new team member clocks in:

Send out a welcome packet as soon as you complete the hiring process for new employees

There’s nothing more exciting than getting free stuff and goodies via snail mail. So after you offer employment and your candidate accepts the position, send out a welcome package that includes:
  • The company handbook or other company-related reading material
  • Onboarding agenda
  • Company swag
  • Important HR documents to sign
  • Something fun for their remote office

Receiving this package will help quell first-day jitters and build goodwill. New hires may even feel connected to the team before every meeting. And they’ll be more inclined to hit the ground running come day one.

Bonus: Don’t be surprised if they share their excitement and free swag on social media, which is a great way to naturally promote your brand and inclusive hiring practices in action.

2. Create and Share an Onboarding Schedule/Agenda

Along with sending swag, we also recommend that you put together an agenda in your welcome packet that contains a schedule of how your new hire’s onboarding and first two weeks will go

This gives them a preview of what’s in the pipeline and helps squash those early nerves (without overwhelming them). It’s also an excellent way to ease them into their remote schedule and working with your team.

Besides your welcome packet, you should also add this agenda to a Google Doc or organized board in your favorite project management (PM) tool and share this info with your new hire. This gives them a chance to become familiar with using these tools rather than pressure to master them on the first day. To piggyback on this:

3. Assign Easy Tasks to Build Confidence and Ease

To build confidence before any real work has to be done, prepare a few easy tasks for your new employees to complete early on. Have them fill out HR paperwork, watch a short video, set up their company email/Slack/PM software profiles, etc.

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Assign these tasks in your PM software and have them check-in via your preferred messaging protocol. You’ll get any questions or kinks out of the way, help them practice using the software, and gradually ease them into taking on real work.

4. Schedule Virtual Trainings

Think about scheduling a few virtual training sessions in your new hire’s agenda. You can use Google Slides for training presentations, share internal training videos, or send them links for online tutorials. These will help them get up to speed on their own time.

Live one-on-one video calls between instructors and new hires can help employees learn the basics of their team or department, proprietary software quirks, etc. Give them the time and date of these training sessions, and let them know whether they’ll need to be on camera. 

5. Set Virtual Group and One-on-One Meetings to Introduce the Team

Virtual meet-and-greets give everyone a chance to learn about who they’ll be working with in a less intimidating way. So weave in a few video calls on the agenda, starting with smaller groups of employees they’ll be interacting with regularly. 

Then, schedule manager one-on-ones or meetings with other supervisors the employee will closely work with. After a few days, introduce your new hire to everyone else on the team during one larger meeting.

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To keep it short and sweet for all parties involved, schedule these meet-and-greets for 10-15 minutes max. This time won’t disrupt too much of the workday, and new employees won’t feel pressure to “be on” for a long time.

Pro tip: Come up with a few lighthearted prompts to ask your new hire during this introductory call. You could ask them to share fun/silly facts about them that most people wouldn’t guess. Or stick to easy questions about their favorite vegetable/TV show/hobby/etc.

6. Assign a Welcome Buddy

Finally, we recommend partnering up one employee with your new hire using the buddy system. This one person will be their designated, go-to employee to “show them the ropes” and be there if they get stuck. They’ll feel less confused about where to ask for help and more comfortable knowing they always have someone to talk to.

For this, we suggest partnering your new hire with an employee they’ll be working with regularly. Doing this during your onboarding process means they can start forming a close bond right away.

Have both parties check in on a set schedule and adopt an asynchronous communication style. This will help everyone balance their tasks with reaching out (and not overwhelm either employee).

Save and Share these Virtual Onboarding Best Practices

You now have six best practices for your upgraded virtual onboarding process. Now it’s time to create a memorable welcome experience for your remote new hires.

While this does take a bit of extra work, it will pay off in both the long and short term. Your new employees will feel confident, eager, and comfortable to begin working with your team. You’ll also make them feel welcome and included, which is often challenging when working remotely.

Put these best practices to good use, share them with your colleagues, and let us know how it goes! 

PS: Don’t forget to read our official “how-to” guide for onboarding new remote employees mentioned earlier.

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