How to Onboard Remote Employees

It doesn’t matter how big or small your charity, or how junior the role—good onboarding is essential if you want to keep the best talent. The first 90 days in a new job, otherwise known as the golden period, is a vital time for employers. It allows them to reap unparalleled rewards in terms of employee retention, engagement, satisfaction and productivity.

Let’s go through how to onboard remote employees and our tips for creating a smooth onboarding process.

1. Before the first day

The first day at any job can be nerve-racking, so ensure your new employee is completely prepared. Send over anything they need ahead of time. This could include things like the employee handbook, information about working hours and any equipment they might need.

2. Create a clear schedule for the first week 

It’s important to be absolutely clear about what you expect from your new hire in the first week. Providing a schedule is a great way to do this.

Here’s just one example of what you could put together:

  • 9.30-10.30: Welcome meeting with manager
  • 10.30-11.30: Team introductions
  • 11.30-12.00: Review website and charity missions
  • 12.00-13.00: Lunch
  • 13.00-14.00: HR induction
  • 14.00-16.00: Task set by manager
  • 16.00-17.00: Debrief meeting with manager

Of course, this will vary depending on the role and the organisation, but the first week should essentially be easing them into things.

To onboard remote employees: All these meetings will be done online, so make doubly sure that you have everything you need set up well in advance. Add videoconferencing links to your meeting invitations and ensure that your new employee is set up on your software and knows how to use it.

work from home

3. Meet-and-greets with the team 

This allows new hires to get to know a few people so they don’t feel out of place when they start work. You can spread them out over the first week or even arrange them for before the new hire starts. It doesn’t have to be all about work, but these are a good way to connect names and faces with job titles.

To onboard remote employees: Getting to know the team is a big part of making a new employee feel comfortable. Have you considered hosting a virtual meet-and-greet? You could even book in a few digital coffee breaks over the first few weeks to ensure your new hire feels like part of the team.

4. Consider assigning new hires a buddy

Mentors are a great way to show someone the ropes and make them feel more comfortable. By providing each new hire a buddy or mentor, they’ll have someone they can go to with any questions (without fear of embarrassment).

It also means they’ll have someone to talk to throughout the day, which avoids hours of isolation. We’d recommend making this person someone who isn’t at management level. That way, if your new hire is a bit shy, they don’t have that added fear of looking like they’re not capable of doing something.

5. Go through necessary tools 

Now onto the nitty-gritty things… human resources. Do you use a company intranet or CRM? Do you need to show new employees how a certain program works?  You can walk new employees through things like this in real time.

To onboard remote employees: All the above still applies. You can explain how to use the relevant tools via screen sharing. What’s more, doing this remotely via a video call means that you can record the session. The new hire will then have this to look back on whenever they get stuck.

6. Training and goal setting

There are certain things that all employees must do when they first get started, and training is a big part of this. Create a plan and send through any training materials they’ll need to go through in the first few weeks. You want to make sure you can get them up to speed as quickly as possible.

This is also the perfect time to touch on goals. Goal setting is a great way to keep a new employee from feeling lost. Why not provide a road map of what you expect within the first few months? This will help your new hire to feel engaged and have a clear sense of what’s expected of them.

technology avoiding bias in recruitment

7. Document signing and verification 

Of course, the legal side of inducting a new hire needs to be considered. Things like document verification, signing contracts and sending over a P45 is still very much part of onboarding. And you can’t simply hold off on that until a later date. You want to be legally compliant.

But many charities are getting creative with this. They’re using apps like DocuSign and Adobe Acrobat to allow users to provide an electronic signature. And some charities are even asking their new hires to send a photo of themselves holding their passport or photo ID to verify identity.

To onboard remote employees: In most instances, new hires can still scan the necessary documents and email them over.

8. Inclusivity

Onboarding is an employee’s first introduction to your team and working culture. It’s not just about training and filling out forms, onboarding is about building connections and championing inclusivity. Empower your managers to be diversity and inclusion leaders by introducing this subject from the very beginning of an employee’s journey with you. This way, new employees will feel like they belong from day one

It might be tempting to just go with the flow and teach your new employee everything on the job. But a well-planned onboarding process will bring both you and your new employee rewards in the long run.

Onboarding remote employees may take a bit of getting used to, but adapting to a remote working style isn’t a tall task. It’s all about communication, flexibility and building trust. Strike a balance between all three and your new starter will feel well-supported and increasingly comfortable in the team.

Looking to hire remote employees? Post a job today.


This post was originally published in 2020, but we’ve updated it to ensure relevance and to reflect the current job seeker experience.


Tags: charity sector, charity sector recruitment, employee onboarding

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About the author

Benita Culshaw

Benita is a Content Marketing Assistant at CharityJob