Remote employee onboarding: the ultimate checklist

Written by: Nora St-Aubin | Illustrated by: Officevibe
Updated on: Published on: October 9, 2020 |  Reading time: 6m

Onboarding a new employee is how you set the tone for their experience as a member of your team and a contributor to your company’s mission. You want to give every new hire a warm welcome, and establish from the outset that their time, ideas, and opinions are valued, and their unique perspective adds to achieving the collective goals they share with their colleagues. This is what drives employee engagement and motivation, so they feel empowered to leverage their skills and smarts with purpose and pride.

On remote teams, onboarding can take shape a little differently than it did at the office. But the main objectives are the same: ensure your new employee has a clear understanding of their role, equip them for success, and integrate them smoothly into the team. When you develop a strong onboarding process, you engage new employees right from the start. Ultimately, you’ll have a more high-performing and dedicated workforce — proper onboarding impacts your retention, too. We’ve built the ultimate employee onboarding checklist to help you welcome new talent to your team!

The employee onboarding checklist covers…

But first, we share three quick tips to make every new employee onboarding a success!

Three quick tips for effective onboarding

1. Establish clear roles

Ensuring role clarity for your new hire from day one is so important to their success. You want to give them both a high-level overview of their role and responsibilities within the team as well as a more tangible idea of how this translates into day-to-day tasks and priorities. Share this information openly with your team as well, and establish clarity of working relationships where needed.

Try this: As the manager you may be in charge of having 1-on-1s, discussing salary, and approving time off requests, but perhaps someone else on the team is better suited to be the new employee’s coach or mentor. Every team structure is unique, so figure out what makes sense within your own context. If you need help to get started, try using one on one templates.

2. Make it a team effort

Get the whole team involved in the employee onboarding process to make space for everyone to get to know your new hire, and for each team member to have a chance to take on a leadership role. This spreads out the work, helps build peer relationships, and makes integrating a new team member everyone’s responsibility.

When we asked Laurent, our first team member to onboard remotely, what stands out the most about his onboarding experience, he said:

“The mindset of the team. We were all learning as we progressed and even though it was a strange situation, everyone kept a light hearted mindset!”

Try this: Have different members of the team meet with the new employee to go over and answer questions about things like the team’s work methods, the tools you use, the team strategy, or the recurring team meetings.

3. Make it incremental

Be intentional about developing your onboarding program so the new employee builds their knowledge base piece by piece and isn’t overwhelmed by information overload. Give them enough time to properly absorb all the information (we do 2 weeks with no working allowed!).

On what could have been improved in his onboarding plan, our teammate Laurent shared:

“Looking back now, an order of priorities for the trello board with my to-do list could have been helpful for managing my time.”

Try this: Rather than give your new hire one big to-do list on their first day, try starting with 2-5 items and have them go to you or another team member for next steps once they’ve completed their first tasks.

Employee onboarding checklist

This employee onboarding checklist template covers everything you need to successfully prepare to bring on a new hire, set them up for success, and make them feel like a part of the team—with easy-to-implement tips sprinkled throughout!

Before: preparing for a new employee

Prepare your team

Hold a team meeting with your employees to address any questions they have about their new colleague’s position and how it will affect their own roles and responsibilities.

Pro tip: Use a one-on-one software to plan conversations with each employee, follow up and make space for their questions or concerns.

Establish peer connections

To help the new employee tackle any learning curves and build relationships early, assign them an onboarding “buddy” on the team who they can reach out to when they have questions.

Pro tip: Frame becoming an onboarding buddy to your current employee as an opportunity to develop their mentoring, coaching and leadership skills.

Help them get organized

Create an onboarding workflow or checklist for your new hire to equip them with everything they’ll need to complete their onboarding: tools, documents, contact info, account access, resources, etc.

Pro tip: Include team lingo in your new hire’s onboarding package. Ana, who just joined our team, said “Definitions of acronyms would have been nice to have. I could see the value in written and general communications, but as a new member, they made it a bit harder to follow discussions.” If you feel like you need somewhere to centralize all your onboarding assets or are searching for some inspiration on creating onboarding plans for new employees, try a software like Softstart!

During: how to onboard an employee successfully

Start with a check-in

Meet directly with your new team member on their first day to welcome them and walk through the onboarding process with them. Let them know you’re always available for any questions.

Pro tip:
Check in often as they progress through their onboarding to make sure they feel supported and have the chance to touch base.

Introduce them to the team

Have the new employee meet the team in a less formal setting (like a virtual coffee or lunch hour) to get to know one another, and set up casual meet and greets with each team member individually.

Pro tip: Peer relationships can shift as you bring someone new into the team. Try a team engagement tool like Officevibe to track trends on an ongoing basis.

End with a check-in

Finish off their onboarding with a final check-in with you. Have them share their ideas and observations, answer any questions they might have, and agree on some next steps so they feel ready to dig into their work.

After: integrating your new hire into the team

Have your first 1-on-1

Once your new employee is ready to take on the responsibilities of their role, have a formal 1-on-1 to establish some development goals together, so expectations are clear for the both of you.

Offer them feedback

Book a more formal feedback session with your new hire after their first 30 days. Creating a habit of communicating openly and frequently early on about anything from goals to team conflict will help build an authentic, solution-driven culture on your team.

Pro tip: Prior to the conversation, ask them to reflect on what went well, and where they feel they need more support or guidance. Have them share this reflection to start the conversation.

Ask for feedback

Ask your new team member for feedback about the onboarding process once they’ve completed it. These insights will be valuable for you to add anything that’s missing and eliminate anything irrelevant the next time you onboard a new employee. Plus, it’s a way to show them right off the bat that you value their input and foster a feedback culture on the team.

Pro tip: It’s not always easy to transfer your open-door policy into a remote context. Use Officevibe’s anonymous empoyee feedback tool to create a dedicated space for upward feedback and keep lines of communication with employees open.

The best way to spark inspiration and engagement engagement from day one of new employees’ experience on your team is to start them off with effective and valuable onboarding. Refer to this employee onboarding checklist any time you bring a new team member on board, and make your own additions!