Ultimate Remote Employee Onboarding Checklist for 2020
The last few years have seen a number of changes to the ways companies operate in terms of their workforce. Remote employees, who were far and few in between, now make up just as significant a part of the workforce as regular employees.
The last few years have seen a number of changes to the ways companies operate in terms of their workforce. Remote employees, who were far and few in between, now make up just as significant a part of the workforce as regular employees. In fact, it isn’t difficult to find a remote employee onboarding checklist or video that details exactly how to accommodate remote workers in your company.
According to the numbers, there has been a 159% increase in the number of remote employees since 2005. This increase has created a change in the employee onboarding process.
Onboarding remote employees is somewhat different from the process that regular employees would have to go through. The remote nature itself requires a slightly different approach to onboarding.
In this article, we’ll take you through the necessary steps towards effective remote employee onboarding. In addition, we’ll provide you with some remote employee onboarding best practices that will help you improve the onboarding experience.
Let’s jump right in.
The Complete Remote Employee Onboarding Checklist
Just to clarify, this list applies to a remote workforce of a somewhat limited size. If you’re planning for the majority of your team to consist of remote employees, you may have to invest in onboarding software systems to assist you.
Still, this checklist will help you make the new hires effective members of your company.
Create an Onboarding Program with Goal Tracking
Before you start bringing in new employees, create an onboarding plan through which you can provide training and track the progress of employees.
This plan could either be a part of your larger employee onboarding strategy, or a separate plan just for remote employees.
In any case, such a plan should include:
- A 30/60/90-day program list
- Regular video and email check-ins
- Goal tracking in real-time
A pre-built plan will let you onboard as many remote employees as the company needs, and focus primarily on training and developing the new employees.
Send Links to the Company’s Online Assets (training videos, culture articles, databases, etc.)
Before the employee joins formally, send them links to any and all relevant online material that will help them get an idea of what your company is about.
This means providing access to:
- Blog posts/articles about the company’s culture, values, its place in the industry, and its goals
- Videos and multimedia guides, such as explainer videos, and presentations
- Links to published material from senior company members, experts, and thought leaders
Providing early access to such material will help the employee be prepared for the next stage(s) in the onboarding process. It’ll also ease them into training.
Schedule a Remote Employee Orientation Session
Set up a remote orientation session, either with each individual employee, or in batches.
For such a meeting, you will need to:
- Set up a video chat conferencing system that will send out reminders ahead of time.
- Create an agenda for the meeting, and let every employee have it beforehand.
- Provide digital copies of any documents (employee handbook, questionnaires, etc.) that employees will need for the discussion.
Individual remote orientation sessions will be better for employees who are coming in on a higher rank, or for a more important position within the company. These could be managers and junior executives. Group orientation sessions will be better for general team members, as they will feel like part of the team, from day one.
Give Employees a ‘Review Period’
Your remote employees will need to review all the material you have provided thus far. Give them some time to do so before proceeding with the onboarding. Depending on the number of assets they have to review, you can give them up to a week’s worth of reviewing time.
During this, you can start onboarding other remote employees, so you don’t lose any time with them.
In case you’re bringing several employees on board, make sure to provide the same time period to everyone, regardless of how quickly one or more of them finish reviewing.
Schedule an HR Orientation
After you have held the initial meetings, set up an orientation session with human resources. This is when employees can review and digitally sign HR documents.
These documents can include:
- Company policies
- Employee requirements
- Details regarding PTO and benefits
- Company account setup details, etc.
Again, since not all new remote employees will be entitled to the same benefits and perks, make sure to hold group HR orientations with employees of similar rank to avoid disparity.
Send All Relevant Compliance Forms
Companies have to file new hire paperwork for all incoming employees. This is to maintain compliance with government tax authorities and employment laws.
Right after you have had the HR orientation, send employees all the relevant forms they will need to sign off on.
These can include:
- A W-4 form for 2020 – If you’re hiring remote employees for the first time in 2020, here’s a full guide to the W-4 withholding form.
- The Form I-9 for 2020 – This form is necessary for all remote employees who are working from anywhere within the U.S. Here’s a full guide to Form I-9.
- Direct deposit authorization – Ask your employees to authorize you to make direct deposits into their bank accounts.
In addition to the forms mentioned above, you can have employees sign any NDAs or similar documents at this time.
Schedule a Communications Orientation
In case you have any team documents that you haven’t shared with the incoming employees, you can do so in a team orientation meeting.
You can share documents such as:
- Organizational charts
- Team calendars
- Inter-team contact information
- Any other company-maintained data that teams will use on a daily basis
If you’re bringing an employee in on a senior position, this will be a good time to introduce them to the people who will be working directly under them.
Hold a Sales/Product/Service Review
This will be where you tell the new employees about the company, and what it does from a sales, service, and/or product point of view.
The review meeting could include details such as:
- How the company approaches sales
- A general overview of the company’s marketing strategy
- A brief history of the company and the product
Provide all the relevant information about the inner workings of the company, and let the new hires ask questions.
Conduct Role-Centric Training
- Modern work management systems allow companies to remotely train and onboard employees for any length of time. Use such software systems when your new employees are finally on the training stage.
- Bring your in-house subject matter experts into the training sessions, so the employees can learn from someone who works in their chosen department.
- IMPORTANT: Employee training is an ongoing process. Make sure you hold training sessions from time to time to help employees develop new skills and keep up to date with any new systems that you introduce into the company.
Remote Employee Onboarding Best Practices
Here are some of the things you can do to make your remote employee onboarding process effective and impactful.
Start the Onboarding Process Early
Add employees to communications groups early on. Send them orientation videos and other valuable learning material to improve their overall skills before they even come in. This will ensure you don’t have to spend as much time training them later on.
Adjust them to the Company Culture Beforehand
Make sure the employees know the culture they are stepping into before they actually meet any of their coworkers on the first day. Remote employees also need to understand and agree with the company culture, despite their remote status. This is to prevent any issues during regular employment.
Create a Sense of Teamwork and Belonging
Your remote employees may never have in-person interactions with their coworkers and teammates. Make sure you hold plenty of online team meets, and encourage everyone to communicate regularly, to forge an emotional connection between employees. If you can, assign a mentor or orientation buddy to each new remote employee or group of employees.
Provide Collaborative Learning Opportunities
Arrange team projects, problem-solving sessions, or cross-training sessions between remote teams. When new employees work together early on, they not only learn essential teamwork skills, but also gain experience in cross-team support.
Each of your new remote workers could have the potential to be a future leader. In light of this, make sure you retain and train each employee accordingly.
In case you don’t have the resources to implement effective onboarding for remote employees yourself, you can opt for a one-stop HR service such as GoCo.
GoCo automates the onboarding process and allows you to focus on other important tasks such as employee retention.