Remote onboarding during COVID 19

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Working conditions have drastically changed since the beginning of this year. Companies have had to make significant adjustments to carry on working, from adapting to remote working to creating new well-being packages for employees that suits the current world conditions (swap those group yoga classes for free subscriptions to online workout classes). Remember the pre-COVID 19 era when the first day of your new employee included a welcome lunch with other members of your team after an office tour? Well, now companies need to adopt new virtual approaches to welcome new employees.

According to a study made by Glassdoor, good onboarding programs can improve employee retention by 82% and improve productivity by 70%. By strategically planning onboarding programs, companies can gain a competitive advantage of recruiting the best talent and maintaining low employee turnover numbers.

Remote onboarding can be done effectively, we have gathered a couple of tips that will help you create a unique virtual onboarding plan for your new hires.

  • Prepare a pre-boarding plan for the new employee: This will ensure that everything runs smoothly on the employee’s first day and will also give the person an idea of what is expected from them and how to do certain things such as connecting to the remote desktop, joining team meetings, or contacting the support team. A pre-boarding plan should include:
  • Digitalised documents: Prepare all paperwork in digital to collect electronic signatures, you can also include a digital version of the company handbook and a list of contacts. Your new employee will be able to familiarize themself with the business and the company dynamic when receiving detailed information before their first day.
  • Home set up: Ensure your new employee has all the necessary equipment to start working. This may include access to the company software, log-in details to accounts, full desktop computer equipment, and so on. Suggest doing a trial run before their first day to see if everything provided works fine, and if not, you will have time to solve any issues before the start day.

  • Develop a tailored onboarding plan: Once your new employee is set up and ready to start working, you should provide a tailored plan to help them feel welcomed and guided. Include a list of scheduled meetings with agendas and links, this will help your new employee to stay focused on tasks and reduce the feeling of missing something. We also recommend having a casual virtual introduction to introduce the new employee to the team.
  • Organize a training plan: Collaborate with your team to create a specific plan for your new employees, prioritize what is important for your new employee to learn, and schedule training sessions. Make sure you make all resources available in case the new employee would like to go back to it in the future


  • Set expectations and specific tasks: Staying on task can be challenging when working from home, and even more difficult when you are starting a new job where you are not entirely sure what is expected from you. Therefore, set clear expectations and goals with the new employee, try to make each one specific, and use measurable metrics to evaluate their performance. Assign them a list of tasks for them to work on during their first weeks while they get trained and settle down to the company and make sure your employee has all the tools they need to work on each task.
  • Schedule regular catch up meetings: Working from home can make people feel isolated, therefore it is important to over-communicate with your new employee to prevent them from feeling disconnected. Let them know what they should expect from each meeting beforehand and use this time to ask for feedback and answer their questions. If your new employee seems to be doing ok and their performance is good then do fewer meetings to avoid micromanaging.

A survey done by Ultimate Software indicates that 33% of employees decide whether they would stay at their company for the long-term or not within the first week. To conclude, the onboarding process is key for employee retention, therefore invest time in planning a good remote onboarding strategy, create a plan that reflects your company’s culture, and provides the necessary training and support.