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Since the COVID-19 outbreak, we’ve seen many businesses effectively get to grips with virtual interviewing, but once a candidate has accepted a new role, how do you successfully onboard them remotely?


How to make a good first impression:

First impressions are a big deal – you need to give off a friendly, positive and informative feeling from the offset. According to a study, 89% of employees decide within their first six months whether they’re going to stick with their new employer for a lengthy period of time.

A ‘normal’ onboarding process should go beyond meeting team members and being shown around the facilities. The same should be true for any remote onboarding processes, but inducting a new starter away from the office will be a new concept for many.

One of the first considerations you should make once a candidate has signed their contract is how to get all the necessary equipment they’ll require to their home. Bear in mind that during these times deliveries are taking longer than usual - the last thing you want is vital resources turning up late.

A welcome package is a lovely touch to send to a new starter and will be well received during lockdown. If you’re unable to send out company branded merchandise due to current social distancing measures, there are several companies offering delivery of letter box gifts / hampers (we really like this pamper gift set or these personalised notebooks on notonthehighstreet.com)

This thoughtful gesture will give them that ‘first day’ feeling, something they could otherwise miss out on. Along similar lines suggest a virtual welcome meeting for them with their immediate team.

Chances are, the employee you are onboarding remotely won’t have visited your offices. This means their preconceptions of the company will be based on what they’ve seen online – so ensure your “Careers”, “About Us” and social media pages are up-to-date and give the right message about your culture. Consider sending over extra visualisations too. This could include company videos or a virtual tour of the office. Digital versions of the company handbook should also be sent out to all new employees.


Technologies to use during remote onboarding:

Any new starters will need to sign and return contracts, with HR likely to also require a copy of a passport or driving license.

There are many pieces of digital software which enable this to be done remotely (docusign.com/hellosign.com). These are legally binding so will save either party an unnecessary trip to the post office. If the new starter doesn’t have access to a scanner during lockdown it will be up to each individual company / HR department to decide if they’ll accept a digital photo of passports/driving licenses.

To ensure your new starter gets up to speed quickly, have them trained on any relevant company software and email systems as soon as possible. Ideally, ask them to check all their work-related technology is configured and working ahead of their first day.

Online scheduling tools, internal communications platforms and video conferencing tools will become a vital part of your remote onboarding plan. Video conferencing tools – such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams or Google Hangouts – will ensure important induction meetings still happen but remember to keep these as engaging and productive as possible.


 Coordination is key:

A new employee’s induction will always include various elements and people. But throw in the complexities of working from home and it can seem daunting setting up a remote plan. The key to getting this right is ensuring everyone involved knows what they should be doing and when to make the whole process as seamless as possible.

On average, new hires starting a job have 54 activities to complete during their onboarding experience. It shouldn’t be expected for a new starter to complete all of these while working remotely.

Line managers should regularly check in for one-to-one meetings with their direct reports. During these meetings, they should be transparent about expected workload, hours of work and what metrics will be used to measure their successes. Set specific goals but make it clear that these could change once normal working resumes.

These regular check-ins will help you better gauge how they’re coping with their workload. In the office, it’s easy to see if someone is storming ahead with activities or looking snowed under, but this becomes more difficult remotely.


Plan for the future:

'Normal' office working, although potentially still different to how it was before,  will resume at some point, so it’s important that your remote onboarding plan reflects this and can easily be adapted to changes. Reassure your new starter there will be measures in place for their first day in the office (an office tour – finally, a team lunch out, welcome drinks etc.).

You might like to suggest a buddy scheme. This could be implemented while working remotely or once returned to the office. Buddy schemes are a great way of helping an individual to understand the culture and team as well as the role. Make sure that the person you buddy them up with is positive towards the company and is not their line manager.


Virtual recruiting and onboarding are the new way forward for many companies. A well thought out onboarding scheme can go a long way to help a new team member feel comfortable and involved, and this is even more relevant when inducting them from a distance.

We’ve already assisted several of our clients in successfully onboarding new starters remotely. If you’re looking to recruit during the Covid-19 pandemic and need support with virtual interviews or remote onboarding plans get in touch today. Our specialist consultants have all the tools required to help find the perfect fit for your next vacancy.

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