Female HR leader virtually onboarding a new hire from her laptop

11 Unique Onboarding Ideas for Remote Employees

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Employee onboarding significantly impacts talent retention for organizations of any industry and size—especially for those that onboard remote hires. While remote work provides several benefits for talent and employers, it can complicate the onboarding process.

HR teams and hiring managers must ensure new hires feel welcomed, supported, and engaged from the start if they seek to reduce churn. With the right practices in play, remote work and virtual onboarding don’t have to hinder the success of your new hires.

Below are 11 unique onboarding ideas for remote employees to improve your virtual onboarding process and keep talent connected and motivated when they join your organization.

1. Celebrate new hires in company-wide announcements

When your team brings on a new hire, consider making a company-wide announcement to introduce them publicly. This announcement lets the rest of the organization know that a new employee has joined, and it helps make the new hire feel welcomed and valued on day one.

Tip: Create an “about me” questionnaire for your new hire to fill out before they start, and include the answers in your announcement. Other team members might find they have something in common with the new hire, which may encourage them to reach out and connect.

2. Mail new hires company swag

If your company has branded promotional items to spare, consider mailing a swag bag to your new hires within their first week at your organization. Providing company swag promotes and strengthens workplace culture and gives team members a sense of pride and belonging.

Plus, the value of swag is two-fold: Providing new hires with branded items like mouse pads, laptop cases, or Bluetooth earbuds promotes company pride and supports your employees’ home office environment and productivity.

Here are a few other functional and low-cost swag ideas to welcome your new hire:

  • Coffee mugs
  • Tumbler water bottles
  • Planners and notebooks
  • Pens and highlighters
  • T-shirts and sweatshirts
  • Tote bags and backpacks
  • Wireless chargers

You can also show your new hire that you value self-care and well-being by providing swag items such as:

  • Yoga mats
  • Aromatherapy candles
  • Small potted plants for their desk
  • Calming tea sets
  • Blue-light-blocking glasses

3. Help remote hires set up their home office

Working remotely requires a comfortable and productive home office setup. Some new hires may need your help crafting the ideal work environment in their home to optimize their productivity.

As part of your virtual onboarding process, consider providing an e-guide to new hires with remote work tips that center around ergonomics and focus.

You could also include a list of helpful home office equipment and furniture that promote comfort and productivity. Even better, provide an office equipment stipend to new hires so they can purchase the items needed to create a successful work environment.

Some examples include:

  • Adjustable standing desk
  • Adjustable monitor or laptop stand
  • Footrest or standing desk mat
  • Keyboard wrist pad
  • Tunable LED desk lamp for eye protection

4. Let new hires meet team members at their own pace

Depending on the size of your organization, your new hire may feel overwhelmed if they’re expected to make introductions quickly. Instead, allow your new employee to meet other team members at their own pace to reduce stress and ensure meaningful connections.

Tip: Provide a list of essential team members your new hire should prioritize meeting in their first few weeks of work, and allow them to meet others throughout the organization as their time allows. Be sure to provide their time zones in your list so your new hire knows when to connect.

5. Prioritize meetings for connection

Not all meetings need to be about work. Especially for remote, distributed talent, meetings should also center around getting to know their colleagues and strengthening their work relationships. After all, collaboration is much easier once team members feel comfortable working together.

Tip: Schedule short, weekly “hang-out” meetings with your new hire and various team members that allow for non-work-related conversation. Additionally, consider creating non-work-related channels of communication via Slack or your preferred communications platform where your new hire can connect with team members on interests like music, food, or travel.

Read also: The Ultimate Guide to Managing Remote Teams

6. Schedule intro meetings with local employees

While remote work offers several benefits for employees and employers, remote teams often miss out on the benefits of in-person collaboration. To help build connections, consider scheduling an intro meeting with your new hire and all local or nearby remote employees.

During the intro meeting, attendees can discuss options for meeting in person, whether working together at a flexible office space or enjoying a social outing at a restaurant. You could incentivize their participation by offering to pay for their gas or food.

7. Provide a productivity cheat sheet

Taking on a new tech stack is overwhelming for anyone. One of the best onboarding practices for new employees is providing ways to help them become familiar with company technology and tools from the start.

Tip: Create a productivity cheat sheet to make it easier for your new employee to leverage their technology with ease. For example, your productivity cheat sheet could detail how to:

  • Customize Slack to improve productivity. When used properly, Slack is an effective tool for helping teams stay connected and organized. Show your new hire how to mute and schedule notifications, join or leave channels, and other tips for better productivity.
  • Customize their calendar for easy meeting scheduling. Show new hires how to enter their work hours into their online calendar and block off “focus time” to discourage team members from scheduling too many meetings.
  • Create e-mail filters to save time. Show new hires how to create e-mail filters so they can prioritize important e-mails and sift through lower-priority e-mails when they have some downtime.

8. Equip new hires with an industry glossary

Joining a new organization or industry can feel like learning a new language. Each company has its own terminology, and new hires need assistance understanding this verbiage to avoid feelings of confusion and frustration.

Tip: As part of your digital welcome packet or company handbook, consider including an industry or company glossary for new hires (and all employees) to reference when they run up against an unfamiliar term or acronym.

9. Mix up new hires' training methods

Not everyone learns in the same way, so it’s helpful to create an onboarding experience that offers dynamic training methods. Varying your training methods helps reduce feelings of monotony and keeps new hires engaged throughout the onboarding experience.

Try incorporating a few or all of the following training methods into your onboarding process:

  • Self-paced learning videos with knowledge-check questions
  • Digital resource hub with glossaries and how-tos
  • One-on-one meetings with managers and coworkers
  • Collaborative group meetings
  • Webinars

10. Implement regular check-ins

While regular check-ins are common between managers at the start, they should continue even after the new employee’s first couple of weeks on the job to create alignment and trust. Regular check-ins are especially paramount in remote work where talent can feel siloed.

As you’re onboarding a new employee, consider the following check-ins:

  • First-week check-in. At the end of the employee’s first week, schedule a check-in to gauge how they’re doing. Make it an open-floor meeting so they can ask questions and express their feelings about how their first week went. Plus, establish how you want to meet moving forward, whether weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.
  • Monthly check-in. Review how the onboarding is going and if there are any gaps in your new hire’s knowledge. Use a checklist to ensure your new employee is learning the right information about their role and the company at an appropriate pace.
  • Three-month check-in. Onboarding typically ends after three months, so use this check-in to tie any loose ends and ensure your new hire is prepared to take on their role in full force.

After onboarding ends, continue meeting with your new hire regularly to maintain connections, encourage collaboration, build meaningful working relationships, and ultimately improve talent retention

11. Always ask for feedback

No process is perfect—HR teams and hiring managers should always be open to improving their virtual onboarding methodology. One of the best ways to improve onboarding and ensure employees stick around for the long haul is to ask for feedback.

When you ask new hires for feedback about their onboarding experience, you show your employees that you trust and value their opinions. In turn, you receive honest feedback that proves valuable for boosting the effectiveness of your onboarding experience for future hires. 

Read also: International Onboarding Best Practices

Simplify onboarding for remote employees with Velocity Global

Effective virtual onboarding is the catalyst for employee connection, engagement, and productivity within organizations that encourage talent to work from anywhere.

At the same time, your onboarding process should make it easy for HR teams to gather and store all new hire documentation, set up payroll and benefits, manage new hires’ onboarding progress, and ensure compliance requirements are taken care of correctly.

Simplify onboarding by partnering with Velocity Global. As an employer of record (EOR), we offer dedicated onboarding assistance to organizations and talent in over 185 countries.

Our team of experts drafts compliant employment contracts, gathers all proper employee tax documents, and sets up country-specific payroll and benefits so you can easily hire talent beyond borders and focus on the quality of their onramp.

Our Global Work Platform™ automates onboarding workflows, is customized to suit country-specific needs and regulations, integrates with your existing HRIS solutions, and offers full visibility and control every step of the way.

Contact Velocity Global to learn how to simplify virtual onboarding and build a winning team beyond borders.

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