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Onboarding Remote Employees (With Checklist & Sample Schedule)

New employees encounter a lot of information on their first day, and starting a new remote job can add a whole new level of stress. So, what’s the best way to welcome these new hires to your team? Remote employee onboarding through a computer screen can be just as effective as traditional onboarding in an office. But if you’ve never onboarded employees in a remote setting, creating an engaging and informative experience can be challenging.

In this guide, you’ll find remote onboarding tips to help you adapt and optimize your onboarding experience to ensure new hires get off to the right start.

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What is remote employee onboarding?

The goal of remote onboarding is the same as in-person onboarding. It helps your new hire get familiar with your company and its mission and values, makes them feel welcomed and included, facilitates connections with the team and provides them with the tools and training they need to start making an impact sooner.

The only difference is that virtual employee onboarding is accomplished through video conferences, webinars, pre-recorded videos, text resources, instant messenger and interactive online training that new hires can access through their desktop, laptop or mobile device.

One study found that “new employees who have a positive onboarding are 18 times more dedicated to their employer.” However, a gap currently remains for most employers. Only 12% of workers reported their organization as having a good onboarding process.

Virtual Onboarding Employee Schedule Template for PDF & Excel

Check out our sample schedule template to help you create a plan for onboarding a new remote employee.

Download PDF for Free
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*Indeed provides these examples as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your HR or legal adviser, and none of these documents reflect current labor or employment regulations.

Onboarding material for digital experiences

The average new hire has over 50 activities to complete during onboarding. Here are some ways to help your new remote employees check off their list of to-dos in an engaging, enjoyable and effective way:

  • Cover the right information. A successful onboarding process typically covers essential company information (e.g., policies, values, mission, products/services), an overview of teams and departments, HR/admin tasks, software and role training and where to find the resources they need to be successful (e.g., company wiki).
  • Tailor digital onboarding material for the most impact. Adjust your language for a digital format, add more detail and create content in different formats to avoid “Zoom fatigue” (e.g., PDFs, one-on-one video training, online training videos, IMs, phone calls).
  • Train new hires at a slower-than-usual pace. Avoid putting unnecessary pressure on new employees by taking it slow rather than inundating them with large amounts of information all at once. Spread onboarding tasks over a week or more to give your new hires the time to absorb important information.

How to virtually onboard employees

Without being able to meet in person, it can be challenging to make your new employee feel like part of the team. Here’s how to build a personalized and engaging virtual onboarding experience to prepare new hires for success.

1. Have them complete new hire paperwork

Consider using an e-signature tool so your new employee can view, edit and sign tax documents, various contracts or agreements and other new employee forms quickly and easily.

2. Create an agenda for the first week

Consider what you would like your new hires to learn and do during their first week. Come up with a schedule for their first week, building in breaks between video calls and having check-ins so they don’t feel ignored or overlooked.

3. Email them a welcome message

Onboarding remote employees begins before their first day. One of the steps you’ll want to take before the employee starts is to send a welcome message via email with relevant information they need to know before their first day. You might want to add details such as when to expect equipment, the agenda for their first day and week and links to join initial video conferences. Check out Indeed’s resource on how to write a new employee welcome email (with examples).

4. Deliver work equipment

Send new hires the tech equipment they need before their first day (e.g., laptop, mouse, keyboard, monitor, headset). Download and install company-specific software and programs before sending equipment to your new hire’s home address. Include initial IT setup instructions to help them log onto their computer and work email for the first time.

5. Send a welcome kit

Make your new employee feel valued, appreciated and part of the team by mailing them a welcome kit that includes your employee handbook, benefits information and company swag (e.g., sweatpants, notebook, pen, popsocket). You can also offer unique welcome gifts like a voucher for coffee or lunch delivery on their first day.

6. Assign a welcome buddy

Working remotely can be isolating, so consider assigning your new hire a go-to person who can meet with them regularly to guide them through the first few weeks or months on the job. A welcome buddy can also introduce your new hire to the right people and share information, tips and advice to help them settle in and be productive sooner.

7. Add them to all relevant communication channels

Because asynchronous and real-time online communication are essential for a remote work environment, ensure your new hire is added to all the proper calendar invites, pre-scheduled meetings, email groups and messaging apps so they don’t miss any important messages or updates.

8. Inform your current team of their arrival

Send a new employee announcement to inform your team of the new hire’s arrival. Make sure to CC the new employees so they can see any welcome messages their new teammates send. You can also announce their arrival communication tool used by your team or during team meetings to give them a warm welcome.

9. Get them online as soon as possible

Give your new hires a “tour” of your virtual workspace. Schedule a virtual orientation with a member of your IT team to get your new hire set up with their technology and software (e.g., login credentials, VPN, project management applications). Make this the first meeting of the new hire’s day—especially since their only connection with your team will be through technology.

10. Meet the team (no handshakes required)

Traditionally, new employees are introduced to their coworkers and new team members on their first day. To do this virtually, set up a video introduction with the new hire’s team or department. Have current employees go around and briefly explain what they do, including a fun fact about themselves.

Help your new employee get to know the team in a more casual setting by scheduling virtual team lunches for the first week. You can also set up brief one-on-ones or small group video chats between the new hire and their coworkers to help them understand how they’ll work together.

11. Hold company orientation

Consider what you want new hires to know about your company, team and culture. Develop a new hire orientation course that covers the following critical company information:

  • Company history
  • Why you do what you do
  • Organizational structure
  • Mission and values
  • Overview of the company’s products and/or services
  • HR policies and procedures
  • Details about benefits enrollment
  • How departments work together

12. Keep onboarding interactive

Studies show interactive activities are six times more likely than videos or text to help people learn and retain information. Gamify your video onboarding sessions with polls, mini quizzes, intranet scavenger hunts, breakout rooms and icebreaker games to make onboarding information engaging.

13. Go over role responsibilities and expectations

Set up virtual job shadowing or training sessions to help new employees learn their roles or to get a higher-level understanding of what other teams and departments do. Give them a specific number of tasks to complete over the days and weeks following their training, making sure to provide points of contact to set them up for success. Finally, work with them to create goals for their first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job.

14. Schedule frequent new employee one-on-ones with the manager

Initially, the new employee should have frequent one-on-ones scheduled with their manager so they feel supported as they onboard. Once the new hire is more comfortable with their responsibilities, these meetings can be less frequent.

15. Build in spontaneity

Spontaneous interactions between coworkers can help new hires build connections with their team and better understand the company culture. In an office setting, random conversations usually happen when grabbing coffee or passing by a coworker’s desk. In a remote environment, these spur-of-the-moment interactions have to be more intentional.

16. Collect virtual onboarding feedback

Make your new hires feel valued and heard beyond their first day and week. Send a survey to collect feedback about your virtual onboarding process.

Virtual onboarding checklist

Before their first day

  • Have them complete new hire paperwork.
  • Create an agenda for the first week.
  • Email them a welcome message.
  • Deliver work equipment.
  • Send a welcome kit.
  • Assign a welcome buddy.

Day one

  • Add new hires to all relevant communication channels.
  • Inform the team of their arrival.
  • Conduct team introductions.
  • Hold company orientation.

Week one (and beyond)

  • Keep onboarding interactive.
  • Go over role responsibilities and expectations.
  • Schedule frequent new employee one-on-ones with their manager.
  • Build in spontaneity.
  • Collect virtual onboarding feedback.

Sample virtual onboarding schedule

Day one

9:00am – 10:00am: Get set up with IT
10:00am – 10:30am: 1:1 with manager
10:30am – 11:00am: Welcome Zoom call with the team
11:00am – 12:00pm: Meet & greet with welcome buddy
12:30pm – 1:00pm: Short intro to the company
1:00pm – 2:00pm: Virtual lunch with the team
2:30pm – 4:00pm: Company orientation
4:00pm – 4:30pm: Watch video training on company culture + values
4:45pm – 5:00pm: Check in with welcome buddy for Q&A (Slack or Zoom)

Day two

9:00am – 10:00am: 1:1 with manager
10:30am – 11:30am: Virtual job shadow
11:30am – 12:30pm: One-on-one with coworker
1:00pm – 2:00pm: Virtual lunch with the team
2:30pm – 3:30pm: Interactive onboarding activity
3:30pm – 4:00pm: Q&A with HR
4:00pm – 4:30pm: Independently read through onboarding materials
4:45pm – 5:00pm: Check in with welcome buddy for Q&A (via Slack or Zoom)

Day three

9:00am – 10:00am: Virtual job shadow
10:30am – 11:00am: Meeting with Marketing department
11:00am – 11:30am: 1:1 with coworker
12:00pm – 1:00pm: Virtual lunch with the team
1:30pm – 2:30pm: Goal-setting meeting with manager
2:30pm – 3:30pm: Independently read through onboarding materials
4:00pm – 4:30pm: Check in with welcome buddy for Q&A (via Slack or Zoom)

The sample schedule continues for days four and five in our downloadable template (see below).

Successful virtual onboarding is more than just a one-day checklist—it can take several weeks or months. The good news is as long as you touch base regularly, communicate clear performance expectations, provide the right technology and encourage new hires to connect with their coworkers, you’ll be in a position to build a remote team that’s productive and happy.

Frequently asked questions about remote employee onboarding

What are the four phases of onboarding?

The four phases of onboarding are:

  • Pre-onboarding (everything done before the first day, such as paperwork and setting up access to accounts)
  • Onboarding and welcoming the new employee
  • Training
  • Transitioning to full-time work in the new role

What are the five C’s of strategic onboarding?

A successful onboarding program will include all five C’s:

  • Compliance
  • Clarification
  • Culture
  • Connection
  • Check back

Virtual Onboarding Employee Schedule Template for PDF & Excel

Check out our sample schedule template to help you create a plan for onboarding a new remote employee.

Download PDF for Free
Download Excel for Free

*Indeed provides these examples as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your HR or legal adviser, and none of these documents reflect current labor or employment regulations.

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*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your recruiting or legal advisor, we are not responsible for the content of your job descriptions, and none of the information provided herein guarantees performance.

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