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Remote Onboarding: A Complete Guide [2023]

by College Life
Updated on July 25, 2023

With more and more companies embracing remote work, it's important to have a solid remote onboarding process in place. 

This guide will walk you through everything you need to know about onboarding employees remotely, from best practices for making sure your new hire feels welcomed and comfortable to actually setting up your own digital onboarding process. Specifically, our Remote Onboarding guide will cover:

  • What is remote onboarding?
  • Why is it important to learn remote onboarding?
  • What are the stages of remote onboarding?
  • How a famous company uses remote onboarding - Case Study

Let’s dive right in.

What is remote onboarding?

You’ve come to this guide to perfect your remote onboarding process, but before tackling the specific how to’s, let’s start to understand what exactly it entails.

This chapter explains the basic concept of onboarding so you can succeed in the subsequent steps.

In a nutshell, remote employee onboarding is the process of acclimating new employees to their company roles while not being physically present with colleagues and superiors.

Whether remote or in-office, onboarding is always a critical step when integrating new hires into an organization. However, when it comes to remote workers specifically, it can be extra challenging to create an office culture with effective, organic communication between colleagues.

While achieving this cohesiveness may sound daunting, there are a number of ways to make sure your new hire has everything they need to hit the ground running, no matter where they are located.

Interested in finding out more about remote onboarding? Then keep on reading!

Why is it important to learn remote onboarding?

To truly understand why employee onboarding, especially the remote variation, is particularly important, employers should study the benefits a successful system promises.

This second chapter explains the ways in which remote onboarding and remote work, in general, can both enhance employee experience and make you a better employer. 

First of all, before hiring remote employees, be clear about why you are choosing to expand your virtual team. Although there are challenges associated with hiring remotely, there are some great benefits as well. These may include:

  • Cost efficiency as there is no need for extra office space and materials
  • Improved employee productivity thanks to better work-life balance
  • Inclusivity within the company
  • Access to a larger talent pool
  • Altogether, increased growth and higher business profits

With the COVID-19 pandemic approaching its hopeful end, businesses across the globe are realizing the value and necessity of remote work. So, even though the coronavirus may soon become a thing of the past, the demand to work remotely is definitely here to stay. 

Besides, employers embracing this new shift have gained access to a wider pool of candidates which provides them with an opportunity to build a more diverse and highly-skilled team. After all, remote workers may serve as the gateway to increasing international business, opening the doors for connections at a global level.  

While the companies striving to be the leaders of tomorrow continue to hire remote employees, they will need to implement the correct onboarding process, or risk missing out on many of the benefits previously mentioned. 

Done right, an ideal remote onboarding process will help you save valuable resources, whether measured in time, distance, or expenses. This is because all the necessary steps can be taken virtually without requiring new hires to spend time traveling or employers to spend money on accommodations and other costs. In these modern times, flexibility is gold. 

So, you’ve recognized the value of remote work, you’ve hired a remote employee, and now, if you get this next part right, your company will be on its way to achieving its goals with an impressive remote workforce onboard.

What are the stages of remote onboarding?

The third chapter of this guide covers the step-by-step remote onboarding process. Learn how to make new remote employees feel truly welcome. Plus, added bonus tips await you at the end of this section!

The remote onboarding process typically consists of the following 5 stages:

1. Pre-boarding

Pre-boarding is the stage where you begin to prepare your new employee for their role, even before their first day on the job. Send them information about the company, their team, and their role responsibilities to encourage a strong start from day one. Slack and Teams are great tools for facilitating communication between colleagues, employees, and superiors. 

2. Orientation

Orientation is the stage where you formally welcome your new employee to the company. You'll introduce them to the company culture, values, and expectations. At this stage, collaboration is key! Matching a new hire with a mentor or buddy who can assist them when adjusting to their new role can serve as a great integration strategy. Any other sort of collaborative team activities are of great help. Get creative and show support! Try using Mentimeter for fun introductions and presentations and Trello for organizing team member tasks.

3. Training and Development

Training and development is the stage where you provide your new employee with the courses, resources and skills training they’ll need to succeed in their role. This may include online programs, job shadowing, or one-on-one coaching. Compiling your own virtual company handbooks or video tutorials can be highly useful as well. Paylocity and ProProfs allow you to tailor employee training specifically to your company’s needs and culture. 

4. Integration

Integration is the stage where you help your new employee feel like a part of the team. You can set up regular check-ins, invite the team to social events, both physical and virtual ones, or provide opportunities to contribute to new projects. Organizing hybrid team-building events is a great way to bring current and newer employees together. Apps such as Scavify and Kahoot offer engaging group activities and collaborative learning in a gamified format.

5. Evaluation

Evaluation is the stage where you assess how well your new employee is performing. This may involve conducting performance reviews, collecting feedback from teammates, or setting goals for future development. Also consider asking for feedback from the new employees themselves. Then you can improve the onboarding procedures for future hires. Many different types of communication tools can work for this step.

By following this series of stages, you can ensure that new employees experience a smooth transition into their roles and are set up for success.

Apart from practical steps for onboarding, let us also offer a few tips which are optional, but can definitely help!

  • Welcome package:

Once a new employee officially signs their job contract, consider sending a welcome package or something similar. You can even include your company’s branded merchandise! Not only is an unexpected gift a nice sentiment, it will leave the new hire with a highly positive first impression, creating a sense of belonging and perhaps stimulating loyalty. 

  • Tailoring the onboarding process:

Another considerate employer action is to tailor the onboarding process for each new hire. Provide the information and support for the different positions and roles, and respect individuals’ varying learning speeds and needs. As mentioned before, staying flexible matters.

  • If possible, meet physically:

The reality of remote work is that employees are usually not able to be physically present in the office. However, if any chance arises, such as an employee visiting locally, make sure to organize a team lunch or gathering to invite your remote employees to join in!

How a famous company uses remote onboarding - Case Study

When the global pandemic hit in March 2020, the future of work seemed to be unknown. Many businesses worldwide have attempted transitioning to a remote work format, and many have failed. But those who succeeded paved the way for others to learn how to adapt to this new reality.

In this chapter, we take a look at one such brand that managed to make it through Covid and successfully onboard 18 people remotely in March 2020. 

SuperAwesome is a company with a mission to make the internet safer for kids. They offer their products and services in the U.S. and U.K. Here is SuperAwesome’s success story involving remote onboarding:

Firstly, SuperAwesome proved how important it is to have organized and effective HR or People Operations teams who are eager to take on the responsibility of onboarding remote workers. After all, as we’ve learned throughout this guide so far, collaboration and staying in contact with other employees matter a great deal during the new hire adaptation stage.

Besides a good team, utilizing practical and efficient technology is an essential part of a successful remote onboarding process. From e-conferencing and e-learning, to online quizzes and challenges, using the various applications and software available is integral to making it in the current professional landscape.

Next, whenever someone new joins the company, SuperAwesome makes sure to follow a structured plan to dictate what kinds of onboarding activities one should complete during the first adaptation period. This applies to all hires, whether remote or in-office. Additionally, the onboarding is flexible enough to allow for necessary changes or adjustments. 

As always, remember that communication is absolutely crucial! All company employees, new or old, remote or in-office, must be aware of their organization’s vision and mission statements. So, when integrating new hires, team managers should communicate these details clearly from the start. Help the entire team understand the purpose behind their work through effective internal communication.

Last, but not least, SuperAwesome’s final tip is to think and plan ahead with regards to logistics and practicalities. Remote work could mean that employees are located in different cities or even different countries, so assuring that they have all the tech gear needed to start and complete their work is definitely not something to forget.


With this, our Remote Onboarding guide has reached its end. 

We’ve explained what remote onboarding is, why it is important, which benefits are available, and we’ve considered the different stages of remote onboarding through a step-by-step process.

Have you experienced remote onboarding before? Share with us in the comments below!

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