Remote Employee Onboarding Checklist & What to Avoid

One of the most difficult things employers have to do is onboarding new remote employees. It can be a daunting, time-consuming process that requires plenty of resources. To make it easier, we’ve put together this onboarding checklist for success from day one.
by Billy Stone » Remote Work Nerd » 
last updated on November 13th
Let me clear my throat....Ahem...

Welcome remote employees! We are excited to have you on our team, but before we get started with the remote employee onboarding checklist, there are a few things that you should know.

First of all, remote work is not the same as working in an office. There will be times when it can seem like you're alone in this world doing your work - without any significant human contact or even an office to go to each day.

The following onboarding checklist is designed to help set up remote employees for success and avoid common mistakes made during the onboarding process.

The first 3 crucial steps when onboarding

Before new employees can do anything, they need to be able to reach you and your team. Saying remote work is not the same as working in an office is a pretty big understatement - actually, it's almost like saying that "the sky is blue" because remote workers have no access to the people or resources available at a normal workplace.

So before doing anything else, complete these 3 Tasks:

#1 Send out a Welcome Email

HR professionals know the pain of onboarding: all those tedious paperwork and documents. Well, there's an easier way to streamline this process!

With one simple click on your e-signature tool, new hires will be able to view edit sign tax forms from anywhere at home or even when traveling abroad - not having them come into our office is better for both employees Comfort (saving energy!).

#2 Provide a Welcome Kit

When onboarding new remote teammates, make sure you send them a welcome kit containing an onboarding checklist and the work information they need.

Woman on a imac checking her emails

This kit should contain all of your remote worker documents:

  • Remote Employee Onboarding Checklist (with instructions)
  • Employee Manual - Company Policies and Procedures
  • Employer Identification Number & Federal Tax Id Information, etc.
  • Your companies policy manual and tax forms.

#3 Complete Paperwork Virtually

Now that remote employees know where to find you and they have all the documentation they need, it is time for them to sign their paperwork.

Just like we mentioned above with signing tax forms via e-signatures there is no reason why remote workers shouldn't be able to complete these last few steps in life, which can still be done virtually!

With remote employees following this checklist, you're setting them up for success and your company is running more efficiently without wasting time traveling to the office.

Now that you've completed these first three steps (welcome email, welcome kit & onboarding checklist), it's time to hop on a call with them and introduce yourself.

Introduce yourself

This is one of the most important onboarding points. Be sure to introduce yourself and welcome them by email or video conference early on in their remote employment process.

Image showing a handshake neon sign

Let them know what your role is

It's easy to forget that remote employees are new to this type of work arrangement. Explain to them how you work and what your remote employees can expect from you. If they're are directly reporting to you, let them know that there may be some occasions when they will need to meet with you in person.

If they are not reporting to you, employees should also get an introduction from the remote employee's peer or manager since remote employees often rely on them for answers and guidance throughout their remote employment process.

Let them know what's your background

Tell them about yourself, how you got your position, and what you do daily. If you're looking to create a relaxed work environment for your employees, allow them to virtually interact with the people in their new roles.

Give them something fun and interactive like Disney's onboarding process which combines creativity while also teaching newcomers about company history delightfully - it'll make sure everyone feels welcome!

Give an overview of the company & culture

Introducing brand new remote employees to the company's history, mission statement, and values are all important remote employee onboarding checklist points.

Team mates having fun

Be sure your remote workers know what you do as a company - especially if it differs from their previous employer or is different than they originally thought.

Also, be certain that everyone understands where in the organization they fit into things! A quick video or even better yet, someone who can walk around and show them everything will go a long way towards onboarding success.

Remote Work Culture is a huge part of most companies, so be sure to give your remote employees an idea of what it's like working with you!  Are there core values that permeate the organization? Are they all focused on making money or

New Team members are more likely to feel like they belong when their teams use tools that integrate. Slack, Teams, and Salesforce all have features for creating communities within the company so it's easy for remote employees or new hires alike to connect with others on similar levels. This can reduce redundancy efforts by using these platforms efficiently right off the bat!

Describe their workday

Give remote employees an idea of what their day will look like. Also, let them know what to do in certain circumstances - like if the office shuts down due to a pandemic or lockdown, remote employees need to know what they're supposed to do.

  1. Will they just be working on the computer all day or do remote employees have a routine in place to make sure they're taking time for their health and well-being?
  2. Do they need to be online at certain times? Let them know what's expected of them!
  3. Do remote employees need to be available on chat during certain hours of the day or will they just check it occasionally?
  4. Will there be any meetings, and if so how often are they held, and is it possible to attend them virtually?
  5. How do they get new tasks and projects?
  6. Will remote employees are given access to all of the company's tools or will they need to request certain information from their peers/team leaders?
  7. What about vacation?
  8. Who should they contact if they're sick?
  9. What tools do they need to use?
  10. Ask them if THEY have any questions and how to improve remote working for them

Communicate expectations clearly to the new hire

When managing a remote team, communication is incredibly important. Those kinds of employees are more likely to feel like they're left in the dark without anyone caring! So it's your job to keep remote employees up-to-date on everything. Let them know what they can expect from you and what you expect from them.

This can be done by sending out emails, setting up webinars or video conferences, keeping the lines of communication open via Slack and other company apps, etc!

If there's one thing remote employees know - it's that they're not always going to understand what you're saying!

So be sure to use remote-friendly language when you're communicating.

If there's a problem with their project or if their manager can't get them access to information right away, don't just leave them hanging - tell them why and what to do about it!

When remote employees know what's going on, they'll feel a lot better and be more productive.

Create an onboarding checklist for them for their first week of work

Be sure new hires have everything they need before starting their remote worker job. As soon as you hire someone to work from home, let them know if there are any tools or equipment that will help them finish the remote employee onboarding checklist remote worker job more effectively.

If they need a new computer, printer, or phone - don't wait until the last minute to tell them!

Also, make sure remote employees are aware of any additional things that will help their productivity in completing remote-friendly tasks.

For example, this is how a checklist for the first week could look like:

  • Get the remote worker set up with email, company chat apps (Slack!), and video conferencing software if needed.
  • Make sure they're all linked to your work calendar! If you use Trello or Asana - make them an account on those as well so that they can access project tasks.
  • Give remote employees access to all of the company's tools that they will need for their remote worker job.
  • Have them read your remote onboarding orientation guide if you have one!
  • Allow remote workers to work on any projects assigned, but also check in with them regularly so that no one is left behind or does not know what to do.
  • Establish remote-friendly working hours and communicate those expectations!
  • Access to sharing tools like desktop software, remote file-sharing tools like Google Drive or Dropbox
  • Give new employees access to all necessary documentation and guides while allowing them the freedom to do whatever they want with it.

Assign them a mentor or coach who will help guide them through the early stages of working remotely.

By assigning brand new remote team members a mentor, you're allowing them to learn from someone who has worked for longer and knows what they should expect.

Having a buddy remote worker is also a great way to establish remote-friendly communication and give employees someone who can help them out if they have any questions. This way, employees will feel like they're not working alone and remote workers can build a strong relationship with their mentors!

Introduce them to key people in the organization

Set up meetings with these individuals so they can get acquainted with everyone on their team. Let them know who is responsible for what.

If remote workers have questions, it may be difficult to find someone in person so try to set up a phone call or video conference when they need help!

Having remote employees communicate with the right people is very important if they want to do their job efficiently and successfully. Don't neglect remote team members just because you can't see them in person!

Explain how to get in touch with you

You've just spent a good deal of time giving remote employees the lay of the land. Now let them know that you're here to help if they have any questions or need clarification on anything!

Multiple ways of remote communication

Let remote employees know that they can email you, chat with you on Slack or Google Chat (or whatever your company uses), and set up meetings over Skype. Make sure remote workers feel like they have multiple ways of reaching out if needed!

What about an emergency?

If employees ever need to contact you in an emergency, make sure they know how! It's crucial to safety and productivity to know how they can reach you and if there are certain times that you're available.

Let employees know if they can reach you 24/365 or only during normal workdays and what times they can expect a response. You don't want them to wait all day for an email back from you, but also make sure it's not too late in the evening when you're trying to sleep!

Answer any questions they might have about the company or their job

If they have questions about anything at all, make sure you answer them! You may even want to set up a training session so that they can ask any of their pressing remote worker job-related questions.

Remote workers are remote for a reason - it is not always easy to participate in remote-friendly work events but you can still support remote employees by having them join conference calls or video chats with the rest of the team so they feel more involved!

Conclusion

Remote workers are just as important - if not more so- than your office employees.

By taking our remote employee onboarding checklist, you'll be setting them up for success and ensuring that they have everything they need to do their jobs well. If remote workers feel comfortable with their surroundings it will help their productivity and morale greatly! If you can onboard your employees then they will be set up for success right from the start.

It's a great way to make sure that remote workers are provided with all of the information and tools they need to succeed in their position. Although it may seem like an impossible task, remote working has become more common than ever before so this checklist should help you prepare your new hires for what lies ahead!

Do you have any remote workers in your company? How do you best support remote employees and make sure they're comfortable with their surroundings?

Let us know in the comments section below!