Join Digital Nomads and Remote Workers to Ask Questions, Share Experiences, Find Remote Jobs and Seek Recommendations.

Remote Onboarding 101: Tips and Tools for a Smooth Transition

Last Updated on 06 May 2023

With the emergence of COVID-19, remote work has become a necessity for many companies. Even before the pandemic, there was a steady rise of remote work adoption across industries. But with the pandemic, remote work has become the norm for many businesses, which has created a surge in the need for remote onboarding.

Onboarding is the process of integrating new employees into a company, making them aware of company culture, policies, and procedures to make them feel comfortable and productive in their role. This process can be challenging enough when done in-person, but the virtual world makes it even more challenging.

Remote onboarding involves all the processes involved in onboarding a new employee, but this time, everything is done online. Virtual onboarding can be a daunting task for both the new employee and the employer. However, with the right tools and strategies, the process can be just as effective as in-person onboarding.

This blog aims to provide remote onboarding tips, tools, and best practices for a smooth transition.

The Advantages of Remote Onboarding

Remote onboarding comes with several benefits over traditional onboarding, including the fact that it can be done anytime and anywhere. Employees can complete the process remotely, no matter their location, which significantly reduces the time and cost associated with onboarding.

One of the major advantages of remote onboarding is that it allows employees to work from wherever they are, enabling companies to tap into top talent from all over the world. Remote onboarding also increases the productivity of employees by providing them with a personalized, self-paced training experience.

Another significant advantage of remote onboarding is that it can be easily scaled to many people simultaneously. Companies can onboard multiple employees at the same time, and training can be done simultaneously, through online training sessions or videos.

Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is a crucial aspect of remote onboarding. It is essential to ensure that all necessary preparations are made before the employee starts their first day. Remote onboarding involves providing the employee with all the necessary equipment, from a computer, phone, and any company-specific software.

The employer should ensure that they proactively reach out to the new employee, using a welcome email or gift to make the new employee feel part of the team. The company should assign a mentor or buddy to the new employee to help them feel more at ease, and questions can be answered quickly.

It is also essential to provide the new employee with access to the relevant training materials, software, project management, and communication channels. Every remote employee has different needs, and it’s important to cater to them. Ensure that the necessary equipment, software, or access is provided in advance to minimize stress and to give the employee an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the company culture before starting their job remotely.

Establish Clear Communication Channels

Effectively communicating with new employees in a remote setup is critical during the onboarding process. Communicating with new team members in virtual setup is often tricky because information is relayed via emails, messaging applications, chats, video calls, etc. Virtual communication channels must be established to provide clarity and to avoid confusion.

From the outset, provide your new team member/s with a comprehensive communication guide that features the different platforms available and what each one of the platforms is used for. Communication channels like video conferencing are great for providing context and promoting interactive training sessions, webinars, and Q&A sessions. Messaging apps like Slack can be used for sending urgent messages, quick feedback, and announcements. Establishing the response time for email or chat can also help the team know when to expect a reply.

Clarity in communication will ensure that the onboarding process will proceed smoothly and without misunderstandings.

Provide Interactive and Engaging Training

Training materials should be interactive and engaging enough to ensure the new employee is retaining key pieces of information. It is often easy for one to zone out when purely learning through reading or watching whiteboard videos. However, the more you incorporate interactivity, the more interested the new hire will be and the more they’ll retain.

Incorporate interactivity by making use of easy-to-use gamification software or creating gamified training courses. Gamification transforms the onboarding process from being a chore to something that is exciting. Games are also great at providing real-life examples of what the new employee is expected to do.

Using scenarios and role-plays can also help new hires understand how to apply what they learned in a practical situation. For instance, an information technology company may conduct a role-play session on cyber attacks and how to protect against them. The more the new employee interacts with the course, the more he/she retains, and the more fun the experience will be.

Set Up Opportunities for Social Interactions

One of the biggest difficulties for new hires that are onboarding remotely is the lack of social interactions. It is often easy to feel disconnected from the team when you’re sitting behind your computer screen and don’t see your colleagues in person. It’s crucial to set up social interactions among the team to make the new employee feel included, engaged, and valued.

Virtual spaces for lunch breaks, coffee breaks, and virtual team building activities such as wine tasting or online games, trivia, or puzzles can help to ease the transition of new employees’ remote onboarding process. Tools like Donut, a Slack extension that pairs coworkers for virtual coffee dates or lunch breaks, can encourage employees to socialize and engage with their colleagues.

Monitor Progress

During the onboarding process, it’s important to check on the newcomer’s progress regularly. You should provide feedback, encouragement, and give them a chance to ask any questions they have. Since onboarding will take place in a virtual setup, one of the challenges is ascertaining whether the new employee is making progress.

One way to address this is through a conversation. Agree on milestones and mutually agreed-to targets through which you can establish what progress the new employee should have made by certain dates and checkpoints. You can use these milestones to identify where the new employee is in terms of the onboarding process and provide personalized feedback.

Utilize Digital Tools

Today, there are various digital tools that have been developed to make remote working more effective. This said, there are many that can be leveraged to enhance remote onboarding.

For instance, Trello and Asana are great task management tools that can be used to assign and track tasks. ClickUp is a great platform for project management, which is great for assigning projects, tasks, and deadlines. Communication tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom are excellent for video calls, messaging, and screen-sharing.

Moreover, there are different collaboration tools that can allow your team to work better remotely. For instance, Google Drive is a great file-sharing tool that lets your remote team members collaborate extensively on documents, spreadsheets and provide feedback in real-time.

Document Standard Operating Procedures

Remote onboarding should not be an excuse to leave out the standard operating procedures (SOPs). SOPs help to eliminate frustrations that new employees face in any organization. It fills the gap between the company culture, the expectations of the employees and the objective expectations of the company.

Providing new employees with a well-structured SOP that details the various scenarios and situations that their role may encounter is crucial. SOPs help to make sure that everyone is on the same page, making it easy for everyone to work towards the same objectives. That way, employees can easily refer to the document if they need guidance, instead of being forced to multitask by asking around for answers.

SOPs also help employees to understand what is expected of them and save time in the long run. Proper documentation of processes and procedures can take some time to set up. Expect to spend a few months or a year documenting processes to have a robust system that can assist employees in executing their responsibilities.

Encourage Self-Learning

In addition to the structured training materials provided, encourage self-learning. Encouraging self-learning means providing employees with additional education resources that can supplement the onboarding process. That way, though new hires can identify areas where more learning is required and focus on new skills accordingly.

An example of such education resources is ebooks, blogs, and podcasts that are relevant to the employee’s role or even the industry in general. For instance, if you are onboarding an HR professional, you can provide educational resources such as the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM) website that provides updates on HR best practices, performance management, and employee engagement.

Encouraging self-learning not only helps new hires understand their roles better, but it also shows that organizations care about their employees’ growth and development.


Remote onboarding is not like in-person onboarding. Companies should establish a balance between providing essential information and orienting new hires to their remote team while providing compelling, captivating experiences that help new hires remember it all. Tools are essential in managing the transition to virtual work as remote work becomes more common than pre-COVID times. Even post-pandemic, remote onboarding is here to stay.

Avoid pitfalls that stem from inadequate preparation or inadequate communication by remembering these tips and leveraging the proper digital tools for remote onboarding success. Remote onboarding can appear overwhelming, but with strategic planning, the right digital tools, and with constant support, there is no reason why it can’t be a seamless, and effective transition.

We Work From Anywhere ?

Find Remote Jobs, Ask Questions, Connect With Digital Nomads, and Live Your Best Location-Independent Life.