3 Simple Steps to Onboard Your Remote Employees Effectively 

Professionals welcoming new remote teammate during onboarding

Onboarding a new employee, remotely, is no longer a rarity or special circumstance. Remote employee onboarding is here to stay, and at many organizations, this is developing into a complex and thorough process strategically planned ahead of time, before these new remote hires even click the “apply now” button.

Supporting your virtual workforce with remote employee onboarding programs 

Not too long ago, there was a time when starting a new job would have meant waking up in the morning and commuting – nervously! – to the office. Upon arrival, we would be greeted by our new manager, get introduced to our team, start working on our onboarding tasks, enjoy an office coffee, meet other new colleagues, familiarize ourselves with our new work environment, and then, at the end of the day, finding our way back home.  

Of course, this is a very broad and generalized version of what the modern employee onboarding process may have looked like for some people, but the point of this story is to show what is no longer happening.  

In fact, many of today’s workers are starting their career paths with their new companies employing an entirely remote workforce, even if this wasn’t their (employer or employee’s) initial intention. 

welcome sticker for new remote employee onboarding

My remote employee onboarding experience 

This is exactly what happened to me when I started at Speexx this year. I joined the company right when the world was beginning to experience the harsh realities of COVID-19, and Speexx had already taken the appropriate precautionary measures to ensure maximum health and safety in the office. What this meant for me, exactly: was that I would be starting at Speexx as a completely remote new employee!  

In this article, I will take a look at why onboarding is so important for your workforce and offer some tips and ideas to help create an effective remote employee onboarding process at your business based on my own personal experiences here at Speexx

Remote employee onboarding: An overview 

One of the primary goals of traditional onboarding for new employees is to help these new hires acclimate to the professional expectations of their new work environment and quickly become part of – and add to – company culture. If this is done successfully, these newcomers feel comfortable and supported enough to perform to the best of their ability during their time as an employee.  

The goals of remote onboarding for employees do not necessarily differ from those of traditional onboarding; it’s rather the approach that’s different, as digital plays a larger role than those in-person interactions. 

Considering recent events, more companies are choosing to hire remote workers, whether they’ll be working remote fully or part-time. However, many HR professionals are challenged to develop an onboarding process for their virtual employees that is equivalent to their standard onboarding procedure.  

Remember, remote hires who live in different locations or even time zones haven’t had the advantage of in-person meetings, which presents some disadvantages, like the warmth and approachability we lose out on when we can’t shake hands, or make real eye contact, or pick up on tone, context and nuance from expressions or voices. Also, it can be difficult for remote workers to adjust to the company’s culture and gain both the official and non-official knowledge about how things get done at the company – things you just “pick up” when you’re in the kitchen with colleagues, casually making coffee and interacting naturally. These easy, thoughtless transfers of information are especially difficult if your new remote workers aren’t used to a remote environment.  

Each employee should be given the same opportunity to learn and grow from his or her onboarding experience, so how can you standardize the onboarding process for all employees for your virtual employees to be onboarded swiftly and smoothly, despite everything being virtual? 

Before we jump into some examples, let’s review the business impact of an employee onboarding program. 

How employee onboarding programs impact your business

Employee onboarding programs have a direct impact on: 

Retaining talent: 

You might have heard that the first 90 days are the most important for new employees. While this may hold some truth, HR experts find that onboarding is no longer something that can be thought of as “one and done.”  

A study from BambooHR, an HR software company found that approximately 17% of employees who are hired leave within their first three months at a new job, while nearly 30% leave during the first six months. 

What this suggests is that the early months of a new employee’s tenure are the ideal moments to reinforce your onboarding program and to continue throughout an employees’ tenure.  

Ben Peterson, CEO of BambooHR, emphasizes in an interview that there are still many businesses that are under the false impression that onboarding is something that stops “when all paperwork is signed, and the employee’s first day is complete. We in HR think we’re done, but the reality is we’re just getting started.” 

Peterson further explains, “Replacing talent runs as high as two times annual salary, and it’s not just about dollars. Culture and job satisfaction is hugely impacted, as well as morale, productivity, lost insider knowledge. It’s painful to lose people.” 

Improving productivity:

Productivity is another big goal of employee onboarding programs. 

Employee onboarding should equip new hires with everything they need to be successful and satisfied in their new roles, as well as with their relationships with the business. With the strong reinforcement of your onboarding program, your new workforce additions should be well on their way to becoming fully productive in their tasks.  

But the most convincing piece of data regarding standardizing your onboardi