Onboarding in a Remote Environment

By Mike Smith, President/CEO

Anytime we onboard someone to our businesses, there are good practices that should be observed. Adding a new worker in a remote environment requires your onboarding process to take this to a whole new level.

For remote environment workers, it’s all about the communication.

Communication Prior to Start

As soon as your new employee signs, get your team to start communicating with them.  Make every day like a birthday surprise by presenting a new bit of information that they either need, or something new they will learn about the company.  Mix it up in the messages.  Some will be information requests.  Some could be phone calls.  Some should be employee or team introductions.  Some can be messages about the culture of the company.  Keep the messages flowing.  This should continue almost daily through the time that your new employee gets started, then make these weekly or bi-weekly for another several weeks.

Assign a Mentor

In almost every case where we’ve heard about a mentor being assigned to a new employee, we’ve heard nothing but praises for that being a best practice, and it’s not that hard to do.  It also gives someone in your organization an opportunity to change up their own work just a bit.

Company Information

Here’s where the creativity is needed.  In an office setting, most employees get to see the company bulletin boards, scoreboards, safety notices, and much more in a company gathering place.  In a remote environment, this has to become digital.  Don’t skimp on this one.  Put some serious effort into your pages.  Yes, that’s right, pages of information!  You don’t have to buy fancy software, just have several pages of information.  Here are some necessary examples.

  1. Scoreboard – This page should accurately convey how the company and in some cases, how individuals are doing, at a glance. It should contain actual quantities compared to goals, a timeline as to when these are to be achieved, and who is winning.
  2. Calendar of Events – These include the days marked on the calendar for important employee events (electronically), holidays, and perhaps even birthdays of employees.
  3. Employee Information Page – This page provides quick links to important employee information pages, an internal phone directory, and links to helpful information, such as how to reach your company IT provider. Keep a log of everything new employees ask questions about, and somewhere on this page, there should be answers to nearly all of those questions, except of course, the confidential requests.

Inspect What You Expect

Every employee, no matter what their job, needs to know how they are doing.  At a minimum, this should be a weekly feedback meeting of some kind.  The meeting should address steps of accomplishments toward goals or objectives.  These kinds of meetings are important in a normal office setting and are downright essential in a remote environment.  Meetings don’t have to be long.  It’s just important that they happen, and they should also be with someone other than a mentor, most likely a supervisor.


Communication is a two-way street.  Leadership should keep the employees informed, but it’s also important for employees to keep supervisors and leaders informed as well.  Employees should have some exercise where they report on their daily/weekly/monthly progress.

Finally, as an employer, show you care.  For those in remote environments, send some care packages.  Provide an allowance for an employee to make their home office environment feel like a place they can work permanently, not just temporarily.  A good office chair is a good start.