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With interview processes shifting to online as a result of the ongoing issues surround COVID-19, the same shift is happening for companies that want to get their new hire set up, onboarded and working as quickly as possible.

Remote onboarding is not a completely new concept and with the right planning, guidance and understanding it can be a very effective process.

Over the past couple of weeks, we have been working with a clients and their legal teams to assist in pulling together onboarding plans for remote workers. Given the current climate, candidates in the market understand the challenges around onboarding, and now more than ever, the companies with a solid process in place will be the ones that are successful.

The Heriot Brown team have put together a guide to getting the process right.



The last thing you want is your employee spending their first few days in the job going backwards and forwards with your IT team, setting up equipment and troubleshooting issues.

To combat this, ahead of their start date, make sure you deliver all necessary hardware to your new hire. That includes basic kit like Laptop, Mouse, Keyboard, Monitor, etc. Determine their Wi-Fi capacities too, and whether they need a VPN.

Furthermore, ensure they have access to bespoke or licenced company software, any log-in details they need, computer security guidelines, as well as additional instructions for setting up their workstation. These latter points are particularly critical for companies that operate a BYOD (bring-your-own- device) policy.


All remote staff need to meet legal and regulatory requirements before they start. Again, you mustn’t leave this too late and clog up someone’s time during that vital first week on the job.

Paperwork:   Employment   contracts   and   other   legal   documents   are notoriously time-consuming but important to each individual. So, If you’re not using them already, services such as DocuSign, Adobe Sign and HelloSign are great, legally binding ways for employees and employers to get all the new starter paperwork sorted. These services are quick to set up remotely and very easy to use.

Org Charts: During this stage, it’s also probably a good idea to send pertinent information such as an organisation chart, indicating who in the business your remote worker should reach out to for specific issues, and to arrange their various induction sessions. It would be useful for this introduce each individual member, explain what they do and how they’ll all work together going forward.

A common onboarding practice when physically in the office is to provide new employees with gifts on their first day in the office. Gestures like this are even more important when your new hire is a remote worker.

And this could be something you align with the delivery of technology – how happy will your recent recruit be if they receive a mysterious beribboned parcel with their shiny new laptop? It could be company SWAG, like a branded coffee cup, or even headphones, gift cards or local cinema tickets (maybe not, when we are in Lockdown, but you get the point!!).

A friendly (written or video) message from the team and/or the Hiring Manager is another great way to make someone feel welcome.




Whatever your traditional onboarding process is, it will have to be adapted in these times if the hires are to continue to be successful.

Getting to know everyone is arguably the trickiest part of remote onboarding. The personal bonds and friendships created in the traditional working environment are more challenging to recreate in a virtual onboarding process.

It’s crucial to ensure your new starter has digital face time with each team member and the wider business, to ensure they feel connected, engaged,  and part of the team and wider business.

Shift the process to video chats (Microsoft Teams, Zoom or Skype), screen sharing and use other online tools to ensure that vital information isn’t overlooked. Make sure your team (or everyone who the new starter will be exposed to) has time blocked out in their diary to meet your new starter in the first week to 10 days.

One of our clients has implemented a process of a 20 minute telephone call for their new starts with each member of the business included in the org chart. The one rule on this call is that the only thing off limits for discussion is WORK!

This is a great opportunity for the new start to learn about company cultures and values, as each team will bring something new to the discussion. You should always aim to ‘over-communicate’ during every onboarding process.

Establish a mentoring or buddy program: Assign them a buddy or mentor and encourage the buddy/mentor to use video conferencing technology to interact with the remote worker during the onboarding process.

This can include taking them through company procedures, giving general advice and guidance, facilitating introductions to other people in the business, or organising virtual coffee-catch ups and informal chats. If the buddy/mentor is office-based, they could even give virtual tours to bring the company culture to life.


What may seem like the biggest task, can easily be transferred digitally and gives your employee the opportunity to work through it more autonomously as well as walking through materials via video calls and online platforms.

You’ll need to have your usual onboarding material available online and somewhere it’s easily accessible. Screen sharing or video demonstrations are a great way to run through any systems they’ll be using and there are tools available for listening in to your team’s calls so you can keep an ear on your new starters calls and provide feedback.

Mentors are also a great idea for offering more immediate support to new starters. You won’t always be available for the quick questions and you don’t want to hinder your new starters productivity, so allocate someone from their team to be ‘on-call’ for any queries and additional support throughout their first few weeks.


There are 3 things you can do to support your new remote team member in their first few months.

Ensure they’re getting involved in team meetings on video calls from an early stage so they know they’re a valued member of the team despite not meeting face-to-face.

Communication is vital to ensure the success of remote onboarding (and working in general!). Frequent check-ins keep your new starter engaged. Daily 1-1’s should be scheduled for the first month and weekly 1-1’s should be scheduled on an ongoing basis once they’ve settled in.

Set them a 30/60/90 day plan so they have clear goals and structures to work towards remotely. Be clear with them how they’re going to meet their targets and achieve their plans and work with them to make it happen.

As well as setting short and long terms goals, it’s essential to monitor and review the progress of remote workers during the onboarding period.

It is key to remember that remote employees can become ‘out of sight, out of mind.’ Don’t neglect them during those first few weeks. Consider extending a typical onboarding process to ensure their progress remains consistent over a prolonged period.

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