The remote working trend is here to stay. While technology is primarily attributed to its rise, other factors supporting this uptrend include lower overhead costs and access to a wider talent pool, regardless of geographic location.

This alternate way of working has certainly changed the world of work as we know it. Chat platforms have made emails obsolete, productivity software has enabled cross-border collaboration, and more. But even for businesses with a flexible work-from-home culture, remote onboarding is still a major challenge.

Integrating new hires into your team’s culture while not being physically together is no easy feat. How do you create the right environment to help them stay engaged and feel included?

That’s where a thorough onboarding process is key to ensuring a smooth transition.

The Brighttail family recently welcomed several new team members who went through virtual onboarding.

Here are 7 best practices that we used to successfully onboard our new members virtually.

1. Design an Onboarding Roadmap

A well-thought-out onboarding process starts with a roadmap. This is the foundation for your onboarding strategy. It also serves as a reference for you and your employee to stay aligned along the journey.

A comprehensive roadmap should consist of these components: 

  • A timeline: A specific duration of the individual onboarding process, which is typically 90 days long.
  • Key activities: Learning and training initiatives to help new employees get going.
  • Milestones: The new hire’s expected outcomes upon completing the onboarding journey.
We create milestones using Confluence’s 90-day plan template to keep our new hires on track with their onboarding goals.

Begin by mapping out a schedule. Bear in mind, this timeline should accommodate your internal probationary periods.

As they gradually progress in their new position, there will be more role-specific tasks to accomplish. As an example, the onboarding plan for an account manager should include meeting clients. For role-specific tasks, direct managers should schedule one-on-one time (whether it’s via video call or chat) to properly guide new hires through their job scope.

From there, input activities and corresponding milestones your new joiner needs to achieve. Let’s say you want them to master your organization’s communication system by their first week. The onboarding schedule should then contain system training sessions.

To guide your new employees through their first few weeks on the job, make sure the roadmap covers everything they need to kickstart their individual work. Consider the following activities:

Onboarding Roadmap Activities

  • Introducing your company’s business, culture, and goals
  • Getting to know the team
  • Setting up their digital workspace
  • Learning and training tracks
  • Setting personal goals
  • Meeting assigned buddies
  • One-on-one check-ins

2. Communicate with Your New Hire in Advance

A great onboarding experience starts way before your new hire’s first day. Advanced engagement gives them a clear understanding of what to expect for day one.

In your communications prior to their start date, you should iron out any work-related logistics. Namely, credentials for their work email address and other tools your company uses. By doing so, your new hire is able to access them immediately to facilitate their onboarding journey.

It’s also handy to set up a schedule for their first day. Specifically, what meetings are they required to attend and when they will take place.

At Brighttail, we get in touch with our new hires several days in advance to set them up for success on their first day.

3. Prepare a Welcome Kit

Starting a new job can be a nerve-wracking experience. Even more so when it’s done remotely without the physical presence of new faces to show your new hire the ropes.

To settle first day jitters and make them feel as welcome as possible, consider sending a welcome kit.

Recommended items to include in your welcome kit:

  • Company apparel
  • Stationery and notebooks
  • Mugs
  • Laptop
  • Mouse and mousepad

Remote working will require you to courier the welcome kit to your new hire. Be wary of the delivery duration and ship the kit in advance. The last thing you’d want is your new hire to start their first day without essentials like a laptop.

4. Assign a Buddy

An onboarding buddy plays a vital role in the success of the onboarding process. 

According to a study conducted by Microsoft, 23% of new hires with buddies were more satisfied with their onboarding experience compared to those without one.

All new Brighttail members are paired with a buddy to guide them through the onboarding journey

Pairing up a new joiner with a buddy provides additional context to what’s been written in your employee handbook such as insights into your company’s culture.

Thanks to video conferencing tools, face-to-face buddy interactions can be as immersive as in-person communication.

For a smoother buddy introduction process, connect them via email, and identify the best way for them to communicate with each other. Suppose the assigned buddy prefers Zoom over email, Zoom meeting links and IDs should then be shared with your new hire for easier communication.

5. Introduce Internal Digital Tools

Getting your new joiner acquainted with your organization’s systems helps them to effectively start work. However, adopting new systems remotely is not without potential hiccups.

Without a physical walkthrough, it can be hard to grasp how to use modern collaboration tools, like your corporate intranet and project management software. This learning curve can reduce your new hire’s effectiveness. These challenges can be further amplified if they go unvoiced by your remote hire.

Below are best practices in introducing systems remotely:

  • Instructional learning: Provide your new hire with video tutorials that they can follow at their own pace.
  • System buddies: Pair your new hire up with employees who have mastered the system.
  • Check-in sessions: Check up on your new hire on their system adoption progress.
We provide video tutorials to guide new hires on getting started with Jira and Confluence.

6. Empower Your New Hire to Kickstart Individual Work

One of the main onboarding goals is to ensure an effective start for individual work.

To do so, you should be detailed in explaining your expectations and deliverables to your new hires. That way, they can execute tasks according to your standards, or even exceed them.

As an added reference, provide them with a thorough knowledge base with what they need to know to start individual work. This can range from information about your company’s services, products and specific SOPs your organization may have in place.

Additionally, guarantee your support for your new hire in completing their first few tasks. This can be done by recommending resources and providing constructive feedback.

Most importantly, encourage transparent communication when it comes to asking questions. No one expects a new hire to know everything when they first start.

7. Get Feedback

Any onboarding process, let alone a virtual one, should be a work in progress. 

That’s why it’s valuable to get feedback from your new employee regarding their onboarding experience. 

This can be a formal process (e.g., completing a survey), or as casual as having a quick check-in through a video call.

We use Slack as a communication tool to check-in and gain feedback from new hires.

Whichever you decide, make sure you have a process for incorporating the employee’s feedback into your remote onboarding experience.

Successful Virtual Onboarding Matters in Your New Hire’s Success

A thoughtful virtual onboarding process is crucial to make your new employees get going faster, no matter where they work. It serves as a foundation for them to excel in your organization and be integrated with the rest of your team.