How to Onboard a Remote Employee During Social Distancing

  By Tony Sorensen  |    Wednesday March 26, 2020

Category: Expert Advice, Motivational, Productivity


As most of the business world is learning to work remotely and practice social distancing in response to the devastating Coronavirus Pandemic, there is a wide range of new challenges greeting talent acquisition and human resources leaders. 

A noteworthy one that I’d like to address in this blog post is how to remotely onboard a new employee. New hire onboarding is a critical stage in an employee’s journey with their new company. Onboarding allows new employees to quickly download an organization’s work environment, company culture, and vision. Without a sound onboarding process, a new employee can quickly feel underwater in their role. 


Here are a few tips for onboarding your new hires during these strange, remote times.


Nail the First Impression


Do you remember the first day of your current job? How did it go? Most of us remember quite a few details from our first day on the job. On the first day, you’re meeting tons of new faces and absorbing a vast amount of new information. Because the first impression is so important, some companies choose to host a welcome breakfast or start the first day by grabbing a cup of coffee with leadership. 

However, our new reality of social distancing, your new hire’s first day will be experienced from their home. But that doesn’t make the first impression any less critical. Utilize video chat services to allow your team to welcome your new hire just as you would in the office. You can get creative and send fresh coffee and pastries to their home, so they feel all the virtual love.


Video Chat as Often as Possible


Working remotely is a big adjustment for us all, but it would be far worse if this happened 5-10 years ago when we didn’t have the technological tools that we have today. One of the toughest elements of working remotely is the loss of social interaction. We take for granted the personal interactions we experience each and every day—everything from the small talk in the break room to complaining about our sports team with a coworker over lunch—sadly, I don’t have any tips for how we adjust to no sports 

However, by utilizing video chat, we can enjoy the personal touchpoints throughout our workday. For your new employee who is being onboarded remotely, these video chats will be instrumental for them to get acclimated to your company culture. If possible, have all training and meetings with your new employee take place over video chat, and even work in a few five-minute video check-ins throughout the day. 


Organize Your Onboarding to the Remote Environment


As nice as it would be just to add video chat functionality and roll out your tried and true onboarding process, that simply isn’t going to cut it. You need to revaluate how you onboard and make sure the process is built for the remote experience.

One place you should focus on is your communication technology. If the new hire is starting in the office, you might slowly roll out how they can use your organization’s communication technology over the course of a week or two. But when they’re being onboarded remotely, this process needs to be streamlined. A remote employee won’t have the luxury of coming to your office with a question or asking a nearby by a coworker when they get stumped on something. Sure they have your phone number, but what if you’re in a meeting or on an urgent call yourself? 

By streamlining the communication technology onboarding process, your new hire will know precisely how to get their questions answered, and quickly move along with their workload. 

Create Your Process in Pencil, Not Pen


It’s imperative that as you’re building out the remote onboarding process that you do so with the humility that you’re going to learn as you go. Make the process as collaborative as you can and invite your new hire to provide feedback along the way. 

As the person going through the steps of onboarding, they’ll be able to provide you with the best insights into what’s working and what’s not. By the time your second, third, and fourth hire are onboarded, you’ll have a far better process built out. 

We’re all learning through these uncertain times. By keeping our minds open to new ideas to better work through this situation, we will all be better for it.



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