Onboarding Virtual Team Members: What to include in your process

A new employee’s first day and first month at a new job will either set them up for success or confirm the position isn’t the right fit. If the onboarding was engaging, then they will start contributing immediately and feel included in your company culture. If they are left to figure out everything on their own, they can fall behind, think about quitting, or not bring their best effort every day. 

With a new remote hire, a thorough onboarding is even more essential. New remote workers don’t have an in-person presentation, desk-to-desk introductions, and a lunch where they can ask questions and get to know their team members. They need clear instructions and access to an online resource to check at any point they have questions.

Most importantly, they won't have the same equipment available to them as at the office. It’s your job to verify if they have the resources to work effectively from their home.

Below, we’ve listed for you the eight initial steps in this remote onboarding checklist. You will also find out why providing a workstation should be included in your process. Follow them closely, and the remote onboarding process will be a success! 

Virtual Onboarding in 8 Steps

1-Send over the contract and other important legal documents

Since this is a remote position, you will have to send the contract and any other legal/tax document (like a W-9 form in the United States) to your new remote hire. 

In 2021, there are now plenty of options to use. DocuSign, Justworks, or Deel make it easy for sending over electronic documents and receiving electronic signatures.

2-Create an employee handbook and don’t forget permissions

There will always be a learning curve for any new virtual team member. Getting them this information even before they start will have them as prepared as possible on their first day of work. 

Google Drive or products like Notion or Basecamp make it easy to create a company handbook or an employee handbook. This online resource can be the single source of truth for any questions a new employee might have or a place of reference for current employees. Are they on the marketing team and need to know the blog writing procedure? Are they on the sales team and need to know how to use your CRM? This will be the place to include that information rather than trying to explain that info to each new employee that joins. You can break up your company handbook into sections based on projects and departments so all the important processes and procedures are there. 

Before the new virtual employee starts, create a list of all the programs they will use. Remind yourself to send them over their invitations to access each program from your Gmail to the project management tool. 

A great program to keep track of all your company passwords and access codes is Dashlane or 1password.

3-Send an Equipment Survey

Letting all-new remote employees know that their wellbeing is a top priority creates an amazing first impression. They should know they are not expected to either work from unsuitable home furniture or pay for a decent workstation out of pocket.

In fact, in a recent study among remote Italian workers, 50% reported more significant neck pain, and 38% increased lower-back pain while working remotely.

To ensure that your new remote employee has the equipment in place to work safely and efficiently, you should send a quick survey to understand their current workstation. 

The survey should ask where it is located, their current computer setup, and what furniture they are using. You can then provide them with a stipend to fill in any gaps or use a service like Growrk that can ship complete remote workstations to 100+ countries in the world. From laptops to sit-stand desks, Growrk is the home office provider for virtual teams.

Why is this so important?

You are establishing trust with your new employee and investing in their productivity. Offering additional perks can give you an added advantage and play a role in which company a top-tier candidate chooses. Finally, many countries are making it a legal requirement for companies to cover the costs of home offices.

4-Virtually introduce them to the company

Strong and meaningful social bonds between coworkers are critical. They signal a strong company culture and make for easier collaboration. However, with a virtual team, you have to intentionally set up these interactions.

Have all your new and current employees answer a quick survey focused on their interests outside work. Then share the results in the new employee’s first week in the general chat as a way to kick off introductions.

In their first month, put a quick call on their calendar with every member of their team and once a week with a member of another department. This way they will feel welcomed to the entire organization and know who to reach out to for any specific questions. They will also get a feel for the company structure, and familiarize themselves with different faces from the ones they’ll see on a weekly basis.

It is also a good idea to assign them a virtual buddy or mentor so that they always have a point of contact.

5-Create a 30-60-90 Onboarding plan 

You and your new remote worker should set 30, 60, and 90-day goals for what they will complete/learn in their first three months of work. Ideally, they should get together with their manager during their first week and plan it out.

New remote employee onboarding goals add perspective to what you and the remote worker can expect from their new position. Inexperienced employees will need help with the goal creation while more experienced workers should have no trouble writing a list independently.

The purpose is to align expectations and create a motivational atmosphere. The new employee should want to meet their goals rather than dread a performance view at the end of the month. Avoid including any numerical goals as it’s difficult to predict so early on and make them more about deliverables.

6-Gradually give out responsibilities

When it comes to extending responsibilities to a new remote employee, it’s best to start small. The first few days of a job can feel unfamiliar and overwhelming, and you want to avoid creating a stressful mood from the get-go. 

The first week of work should only be focused on introductions and quick wins. This way they can start easing into their role by week two.

These initial responsibilities will help build up the confidence of the new virtual employee. They will receive positive feedback and build a sense of how the team collaborates together. This will set them up to take on bigger tasks and absorb more responsibilities.

7-Schedule a one-on-one.

This will be the new remote employee’s final chance to ask any questions about the company, the procedures, or the nature of their position. The meeting should take place, at the end of their first week after they have already met their team members, started working on their first task and explored the company handbook. 

This is also a great time to ask if they have any feedback on your remote onboarding process. They can provide insights into the gaps you might have missed or point out any highlights of your onboarding that you should expand upon.

8-Schedule check-ins at the end of each month.

Send over any requests or issues the new employee pointed out to their manager (If you are their manager, then you should already have it). Your remote employee should have already hit the ground running but you should still schedule monthly check-ins to assure they are comfortable and are meeting the goals of their 30-60-90 day plan. 

Wrapping up your Remote Onboarding Process

Onboarding whether in-person or remote sets your new employee up for success. When done mindfully, you will have a productive employee that will stay with your company for a long time. Follow the steps above, and your remote team onboarding will be better than your in-person onboarding and set a standard as your company expands. Make your company a place where remote workers want to join and grow. 

Written by Mark Gregory, Content Marketing Manager at Growrk