6 virtual onboarding best practices for brilliant first days

The returns on developing a fantastic virtual onboarding process are huge. Research firm Brandon Hall Group found that companies with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by over 80%, and productivity by over 70%.

And yet, when the Human Capital Institute (HCI) analysed companies’ onboarding processes, they found that more than half focus on paperwork and processes, rather than the people. What’s more, a third of respondents described their onboarding process as informal, inconsistent, or reactive.

When your new hires are starting remotely, it’s even more important to design a structured and strategic virtual onboarding process to ensure they do not feel disengaged or isolated at any point.

Here are six simple and practical ways to improve your employees’ virtual onboarding experience and unlock the long-term business benefits of a solid onboarding programme. 

1. Use the right tools to streamline your remote onboarding process

Communication and structure are key to getting your onboarding process right. Your new remote employees need more than just a check-in Zoom call or two throughout the day. Find tools that help you create a virtual environment that embodies your company culture, where you can have touch points, meet and greets with new remote hires, and training sessions or webinars. This way, your new hire will feel like they are part of the team right from their start date, and the onboarding process will be smooth all-round.

There are tons of tools you could use. For example:

  • Google Meet: For one-on-one video calls
  • Slack: For team communication
  • Asana: For task management
  • Hofy: For ordering equipment and setting up workstations
  • Remo: For a virtual workplace (onboarding, networking, fun and corporate events, happy hours)

2. Provide an onboarding checklist

Onboarding checklists are very important for providing both you and your new hires with structure.

Your internal onboarding checklist should include all the tasks that need to be completed before an employee starts and during their first few weeks, which could include:

  • Giving them access to remote work tools;
  • Providing them with a home office;
  • Sending them swag;
  • Planning meetings and trainings;
  • Sharing documentation, such as company values, contracts, etc.

But not only should you have your own checklist, your new hires should have one too! They have a ton of small tasks to do when they arrive, and they won’t know what to do unless they are told, so make sure to provide an onboarding checklist that could include tasks such as:

  • Setting up their accounts;
  • Updating their LinkedIn profile;
  • Reading guidelines and company values;
  • Meeting co-workers;
  • Other milestones depending on their job titles.

3. Do regular and specific check-ins

When employees start remotely, you do not have the same visibility over how they are getting on compared with being in an office. This means it is especially important to set up regular follow-ups and check-ins on day one, as well as throughout your new hires first few weeks and months.

When a manager is actively involved in an employee’s onboarding, that employee is 3.4x more likely to consider their onboarding a success.

It’s also important that these check-ins follow specific agendas so your employees have the proper space to ask questions and voice any concerns. Ask specific questions about the progress and pace of the onboarding plan or checklist, how they are feeling etc.

4. Use video conference

It’s crucial to use a videoconferencing tool to see each other's faces from day one.

The virtual employee onboarding process can feel very impersonal otherwise, and it’s important for new hires to put a face on the numerous remote employees they are meeting. 

Everyone should always have their cameras open during virtual meetings to onboard new employees properly. This should help employee retention and satisfaction during the onboarding process.

Depending on your needs and your company, you can use different video conferencing tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Remo for your virtual onboarding programme.

5. Plan a welcoming virtual happy hour

After their first week at their new jobs, chances are your new hires would really like to know their new co-workers a little bit better. Bring the office-tradition of Friday beers to your employees’ homes.

Virtual happy hours are a very good way to relieve the tensions of starting a new job, increase employee engagement and satisfaction, and help your new employees integration go smoothly.

You can plan all sorts of fun team building games, icebreakers for your new employees, host a virtual escape room, a scavenger hunt, a salsa class, and even send lunch or cocktails kits to your remote employees. You can plan one every week, month, or quarter depending on your needs and the number of employees you onboard.

Alternatively, try a remote team-building app like SquadPal - your team can take part in fun games, challenges, and competitions whenever it suits them, rather than having to be on a video call at the same time as each other. It helps your new joiner get to know their colleagues while still respecting the flexibility they love about remote work.

6. Ask for feedback

Once all is said and done, the best people to help you improve your onboarding process are your new employees.

According to the 2021 Candidate Experience Report, only 26% of new employees were asked to give feedback on their hiring process before joining and onboarding experience. 

However, research shows that when employers ask for feedback, new joiners are 91% more likely to feel positive about their new role and company.

Send your new starters a quick anonymous survey and ask questions such as:

  • What could be improved about our onboarding process?
  • What did you like about your remote onboarding?
  • How would you rate your experience out of 10?
  • How do you perceive our company culture?
  • Did you feel overwhelmed/underwhelmed/lonely?
  • Any other feedback about your onboarding process?

With this information on hand, you’ll be able to improve your onboarding process continually and adjust so that everyone feels like part of the team as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Deliver a brilliant virtual onboarding with Remo

Remo makes it simple to create a delightful, immersive virtual space that empowers people to communicate, connect, and collaborate with anyone just like you would in real life.