April 2, 2020

A guide to remote onboarding

4 min read

The current climate presents a unique challenge for recruitment around the world. If your company is still hiring during the pandemic, you’re likely going about it in a slightly different way.

We’ve compiled some useful insights for moving your practices online so you can stay business as usual in these unusual times. We look forward to sharing these insights with you over the coming weeks.

A Guide to Remote Onboarding

While much has changed since New Zealand entered a nationwide lockdown on March 26, we know that not every business needs to, or can afford to, completely halt their hiring activity. For some employers, specific roles may be crucial to maintain, support and grow the company during these uncertain times, and for others, hiring new employees is more important than ever.

Given that virtual recruitment is swiftly becoming the norm, it’s essential to consider the impact this will have on onboarding as we move forward. Hiring managers should be preparing to pivot and adopt virtual onboarding for their nationally distributed remote teams.

An engaging and efficient onboarding experience becomes even more important during a crisis. As companies strive to maximise the success of new hires, it’s important to ensure that valuable time spent recruiting isn’t squandered, and that teams have productive new staff members as quickly as possible.

A well planned and structured onboarding strategy enables organisations not only to train, engage and build relationships with new starters but to also ensure new employees feel welcomed, valued and confident about their decision to join the company.

Prior to Employment

One of the early defining moments in any employer-employee relationship is the point of job offer. If the candidate is the right person for the role, hiring managers need to communicate that as soon as possible. Once the offer is accepted, it’s important to ensure that all pre-employment admin duties are completed.

In addition, to minimise the risk of new recruits backing out before they are set to commence the role, it is essential for mangers to reach out to their new staff members prior to their start date to get to know them and also facilitate an introduction to their new team members.

None of these factors change just because you’re working from home – admin tasks can be completed electronically and getting to know the team can be done via technology using email, phone or video calls. That introductory coffee can certainly still be done virtually, as can Friday drinks!



To ensure that new starters feel comfortable, welcomed and supported, managers can facilitate relevant team introductions and socialisation. Write down what you would normally do when there’s a new starter in the office, and instead create a diary of virtual activities and introductions.

Keep in mind that there isn’t a substitute for seeing someone’s face when you first meet them so encourage these meetings to be face-to-virtual-face introductions over video chat.

Companies also need effective logistics in place to ensure that their new starters have the necessary equipment and technology to do their jobs. Any company procedures, including data privacy and health and safety, must be adapted to accommodate a remote working environment (if they don’t already do so), and new employees need to be introduced to these policies (as should existing employees if you’re updating your procedures).

Likewise, any relevant training and compliance requirements should be communicated to the new starter as soon as possible. Working from home, in relative peace and quiet, may a make it easier for new employees to complete these modules – and a lot of organisations already have training and compliance set up online. But this isn’t always the case if employees are juggling family responsibilities, so be sure to offer flexibility here and check in with your new starter to understand their personal situation.

Ongoing Support

If the new employee will not be the hiring manager’s direct report it is imperative to communicate the importance of one-to-one time with their manager. You may assume that your managers will be aware of this but keep in mind that leadership is an iterative practice.

Regular check-ins and ongoing training are important elements in any onboarding strategy. Keeping that in mind, new employees who have only ever worked independently will most likely require more check ins as they learn the ropes. These check ins are essential to set objectives for learning, interactions and productivity.

Some would say that company culture is established and nourished in the office environment, however, it is possible to maintain a good culture and share it with new starters while working remotely. To do this remotely, it is essential to act and build a culture supported by technology. If your team has a culture of weekly get-togethers, do the same, but online.

Absolute IT