• Eller Everett

Remote Onboarding: Advice From the World’s Best Remote Companies

As the business world is having to turn towards digital work and teams there is a growing importance of digitalisation. Building up a strong team and ensuring that employees are onboarded fully still has to be done even when face to face contact is impossible.

Here we discuss the advice and key tips for remote onboarding by companies that have been trying and testing remote work long before it was a necessity.

Github.

Github is known for its remote method of working and has become the expert in remote onboarding over the past 10 years.

They have a large focus on communication and use tools such as GitHub, Slack, and Zoom to make communication as streamline as possible for new employees.

One of main pieces of advice for remote onboarding by Github is to be intentional from day one. Ensure that employees have a sense of belonging to the company and connection to the community and culture no matter where they are.

To do this the company focuses on three main areas during the onboarding process: the organizational, the technical, and the social.

The Organisational.

Github identifies one of the key points of onboarding should be organisational, in other words giving logistical information should as: what tools to use, who to contact for specific questions and where to go for more information.

In order for this part of the onboarding to run smoothly all information and documentation need to be accessible. Github provides this in the form of a handbook, which contains all information needed by employees, allowing them to easily direct onboarding employees to all necessarily information.

The Technical.

Technical onboarding refers to giving new candidates the knowledge to use the tools mentioned in the organisational onboarding. New hires are given an onboarding issue template with daily tasks to complete. At Github they do this using their own platforms however this can also be done via platforms such as Trello, Office Accord or Personio.

Is it during this part of the onboarding that new employees are given access to the tools they will be using.

The Social.

It can be a challenge for candidates to be onboarded into the social side of the company remotely, however it is still an important part of the onboarding process and needs to be done correctly.

When a new employee joins a company they should feel connected to their colleagues, despite not sharing an office. In order to do this informal communication should be encouraged and built into the onboarding process. Assigning a buddy to new employees is a good way to do this, having a friendly face that can introduce them to the rest of the team and answer any informal questions. Communication with the buddy as well as the rest of the team should be encouraged through video calls, slack and even digital coffee chats.

Zapier.

Zapier is a 100% remote company and they have had time to perfect their remote onboarding. They use Zoom for live meetings and Sapling for asynchronous tasks. Zapier are aligned with Github in that they see the importance of being intentional throughout the onboarding, they have a large focus on communication which is identified into four main pillars.

  1. Connect to community and culture.

  2. Highlight new hires' strengths to improve the company.

  3. Learn through active practice.

  4. Gain company-wide context.

Connect to community and culture.

This should be the most intentional part of the onboarding process. It is a challenge to introduce the company culture digitally but it is no less important. A sense of connection for new employees is vital. There are a few key ways in which Zapier ensures communication.

  • Live meetings via Zoom - consider the breakout feature for large groups

  • Personal onboarding - questions in order to bring out stories of people's strengths and authenticity. Adding this personal side allows people to feel more comfortable and part of the team despite it being digital.

Buddy system (again).


This is a system that may seem trivial but is adopted by all of the remote leaders. It guarantees that new employees have someone to ask all of their questions that they may not feel comfortable asking their manager.

Workable.

Workable, one of the worlds leading talent acquisition platforms, offers a checklist in order to assist with streamlining the remote onboarding process.

Paperwork.

Workable identify one of the pain points in remote onboarding is completing the paperwork. New employees need to sign contracts, legal documents and more. If this requires printing, scanning and emailing this process can waste a lot of time and eat into vital onboarding time.

In order to help with this process Workable suggest adopting an e-signature tool such as DocuSign, or HelloSign in order to digitalise and simplify the process.

Culture.

The company culture is no less important for remote companies and therefore should be a key point of the remote onboarding process. Despite not being in the same office remote employees are still part of the culture. The culture can be introduced during the onboarding via a digital employee handbook, company value presentations and pictures and videos from team events and meetings.

Communication, Communication, Communication.

Clear communication is the most important part of any onboarding which is why it should be mentioned time and time again. Ensuring that employees know how to use communication tools, who to contact and who to report to is vital in order to onboard employees efficiently. This should include setting up company emails, introduction of communication tools and applications as well as setting up team and one to one meetings.

For more advice on setting up remote onboarding for your company please get in touch for a free consultation.

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