Remote Onboarding: Advantages, Challenges, and Best Practices

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Onboarding is the transition new hires go through as they become a part of the company. As employers, your role in onboarding is not just to consolidate contracts or prepare their payroll accounts. You also need to show them the ropes through orientation, make sure they can effectively fulfil their role through training, and promote company culture through engagement activities.  

Many companies nowadays conduct employee onboarding virtually.  While it makes sense for those who employ remote employees, some companies with in-office arrangements also do virtual onboarding because it has several benefits. If your company wants to do remote onboarding, it's great to know more about its advantages, challenges, and best practices. 

What Is Remote Onboarding?

Remote onboarding is a series of steps employers take virtually or online to help new hires adjust well to the company and their role. It uses various online platforms to conduct meet and greets, orientation, and training:

  • Video conferencing apps for meetings and feedback sessions
  • Document sharing platforms
  • Video-sharing platforms for training materials 
  • Online software for work management

Nowadays, even companies with in-person arrangements take advantage of remote onboarding because of its many benefits. 

Why Onboarding Is Important 

Before we discuss the advantages of remote onboarding, let’s first enumerate the reasons why onboarding as a whole is a crucial step in hiring. Generally, onboarding helps:

Choose the Best Talent

It is during onboarding when employers run essential background checks, such as Reference Checks and Employment Verification, that help determine whether the candidate is indeed suitable for the position. 

Furthermore, checks, like Criminal Background Check and Credit Checks, help you screen applicants who may later threaten the company, client, or public safety. 

Improve Engagement

First impressions may affect how employees view your company. Onboarding is the company's first chance to welcome new hires. From contract signing to training, remind the employees that you are happy they are now part of the company.  

Increase Retention

Companies with an engaging onboarding retained 91% of their new hires in the first year. Those with a structured onboarding process are also more likely to retain their employees for up to 3 years. 

Boost Productivity

Finally, did you know that onboarding can affect productivity? Companies that have a standard onboarding process experience 54% new hire productivity

Why Remote Onboarding Is Becoming Popular

Today, especially with the changes brought about by the pandemic, more and more companies conduct virtual or remote onboarding.  

With the use of technologies, such as document-sharing platforms and video conferencing apps, they carry out orientation, meet-and-greet, training, and feedback sessions. Below are three of the advantages of remote onboarding:

It’s More Flexible 

Remote onboarding is flexible in more ways than one. Since it’s online, new hires can receive orientation, training, or feedback wherever they are - as long as they have a good internet connection. Employers can also readily make changes to documents should there be developments. 

It Saves Time

Remote onboarding saves employers and employees a lot of time. Online, editable documents don’t need to be printed, employees need not commute or drive to the office, and training can be conducted using recorded videos. 

It’s More Cost-Efficient 

Of course, onboarding employees remotely has money-saving aspects as well. Firstly, time is money. The fact that virtual onboarding saves time means managers and supervisors have more time to spend on other core tasks. It also cuts down costs on in-person interviews and meetings, travel, accommodation, etc.  

It Streamlines The Hiring and Onboarding Process

Virtual onboarding can be integrated into any online process for your team management. In your existing system, you can store pertinent employee information and automate things, such as notifying applicants about their one-on-one session with the manager or delivery of documents to their company email. 

The Essentials: What Should Be Included in Remote Onboarding?

What should be included in your virtual onboarding depends on several things, such as your industry and the role of your employees. Overall, the following are recommended:

Background Checks

As mentioned earlier, it is during onboarding that employers conduct crucial background checks. Remember that some background checks are legally required - not doing them can result in fines and even imprisonment. 

For instance, Right to Work checks are your legal obligation in the United Kingdom. If you do them correctly, you are given a statutory excuse should an employee be later found to be working illegally in your company.  Criminal Background Checks and Drug Testing may also be required in safety-critical industries like childcare and transportation. Credit checks may be mandatory for roles in the finance sector. 

For remote onboarding, it may be more efficient to partner with a reliable third party who can run multiple checks and deliver results online. Screening platforms like Veremark also have a system that can be easily integrated into your workflow for a more seamless onboarding and hiring. 

Welcome Video Call

Welcome new hires warmly with a video call congratulating them for being a part of the company. To set the atmosphere. The video call may focus on an introduction to the key people and how they can best support the employees. You don't need to go into detail about it, but it would make the new hires feel at ease to know that should concerns arise, the management is happy to help. 

Meet the Managers and Teammates 

Arrange another meeting for the employees to meet the team they would be closely working with. Managers may have a one-on-one call later as well to discuss specific roles and responsibilities. Consider online engagement for new employees to get to know each other. 

HR Induction

All documents may be submitted online, but a separate one-on-one call is always welcome to check if something's missing or clarify any concerns. This is also a good time to explain things like employee benefits. 

Orientation on Policies and Protocols

Remote onboarding wouldn’t be complete without an orientation on company policies and protocols. If they have already received their employee handbook, you can take this opportunity to highlight the most important things and to receive questions. 

Introduction To and Training on IT Systems 

Do you have a workflow system or online platform? Include an introduction to it during onboarding along with training on how to use it. 

Regular Check-ins 

Lastly, arrange regular check-ins with the new hire to see if they are adjusting well to their role, teammates, and company culture in general. 

Remote Onboarding Challenges and Their Solutions

Onboarding remote employees may have benefits, but it also comes with difficulties. Below are virtual onboarding challenges and their solutions:

Challenges in Background Screening

Onboarding remote employees poses challenges in background screening. Identity verification, for instance, can be made more difficult if you can't meet the new hire in person. Identity check is crucial as it serves as the foundation for all other checks. 

If you’re hiring from another country, another challenge is to make sure that you are conducting the checks in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations. For instance, in the UK, a more in-depth criminal check is only allowed for certain roles, such as those in the childcare sector. 

Solution:

One great solution for this is to partner with a reliable third party like Veremark who can conduct multiple checks, including identity verification for remote hires. We can verify the person's legal name, age, place of birth, etc. We can also check the validity of their ID documents and conduct a biometric match to the ID document. These checks are conducted in compliance with the applicable laws to reduce the risk of running into legal trouble. 

Missed Steps

Onboarding can be a long process involving different departments, and when you do it online, you may miss some important steps.  The HR Department, for instance, may be so busy with contract signing that some other crucial tasks like background checks are pushed to the side. 

Solution: 

Prepare an Onboarding checklist. You may do this per department (HR, IT, Line Manager) or by sequence (1 week before start date, first week). You may also give your new hires their own checklist, so they can see their progress when it comes to onboarding. For a Free Onboarding Checklist, visit Creating Your Employee Onboarding Checklist

Setting Up Equipment and Accessing Online Platforms 

Working remotely means new hires do not have access to tech that your IT team has set up. It’s either they are using their own equipment or would have to assemble the equipment you sent them. Furthermore, they would be accessing online platforms for work on their own. 

Solution: 

One solution for this is to give them a designated time to set up their equipment or familiarise themselves with the platform needed for work. If they are assembling their equipment, make sure the equipment arrives on time and provide them with clear instructions together with the name of the person they can contact should they encounter any concerns. 

Information Overload

Virtual onboarding makes it easier for employers to send new hires all the necessary documents they need at once. In just one email, they can have their employee handbook, salary package, role-specific guidelines, organisational chart, etc. And since remote employees need to sift through these documents on their own, they may be overwhelmed. 

Solution:

Sending them all the documents at once won't be an issue if you emphasise that there will be separate orientation or training for them. You may highlight the call and point them to the corresponding document (Welcome Video Call > Organisational Chart, One-on-one with Manager > Role Specific Guidelines). 

Lack of Engagement and Isolation

Because they are working elsewhere, remote employees may feel disengaged during the onboarding. This may lead them to feel isolated and miss out on important details they need to carry out their tasks effectively. 

Solutions:

There are many ways to boost engagement virtually. You may schedule meet and greets,  arrange more 1:1 calls, have an onboarding buddy system, and facilitate ice breakers and online team-building sessions 

Best Practices For A Smooth Remote Onboarding Process

To have an effective remote onboarding that helps the new hire fully understand the company culture and their role and responsibilities, the following best practices may help:

Designate an Onboarding Buddy and/or Mentor

A remote onboarding buddy, usually an existing employee who is not the new hire's line manager, can help keep them up to speed with the next steps. They can also answer questions and make the transition less stressful for the new employee. 

Make Sure Everything The New Hire Needs Gets Delivered On Time

It’s less anxiety-inducing if the new employee has adequate time to familiarise themselves with the equipment, workflow system, and online platforms they need to use. Make it a point to send them the equipment and accesses on time - before their formal onboarding. 

Be Clear With Communication Channels 

Onboarding remote employees is challenging because they are not a desk away from their managers. For a smooth transition, be clear with your communication channels. When should they schedule a call? What concerns should be addressed via email? 

“Personalise” the Onboarding Process

Personalisation is still possible despite remote onboarding. Schedule coffee breaks during training sessions, initiate small talks in between orientation, and arrange after-work drinks virtually to get to know the employees behind the screen.  

Make It Seamless. Partner With a Reliable Background Screening Platform

As you may find it challenging to conduct background checks on remote employees, consider partnering with a third party platform that can automate the process. Veremark’s screening system can be easily integrated into your existing workflow, meaning you can combine relevant data that help you make a stronger hiring decision and get more in-depth insights into your new hires. 

How Long Does Remote Onboarding Last?

The duration of onboarding remote employees depends on several factors. How many employees do you have? What processes are involved? How intensive should their role-specific training be? 

In most cases, it may take two full weeks to complete but may extend to three weeks for team-specific training. 

Conclusion

Remote onboarding is gaining popularity not only among businesses that employ remote employees but also among those with in-person arrangements. After all, it can make things easier, has time-saving aspects, and can be cost-effective. While there may be challenges surrounding tech setup and background screening, and new hires may feel disconnected, you may solve them through various steps. Consider providing detailed instructions, assigning an onboarding buddy or mentor,  and collaborating with a third party screening platform like Veremark for a more seamless onboarding system. 

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FAQs

What is remote onboarding?

Remote onboarding is a series of steps employers take virtually or online to make sure the new hires adjust well to the company and their role. It uses various online platforms to conduct meet and greets, orientation, and training.

Why do some companies conduct remote onboarding instead of in-person onboarding?

Some companies conduct virtual onboarding because they hire remote employees. However, those with in-person work arrangement also consider remote onboarding because it has several benefits, such as time-saving aspects, being more cost-effective, and being highly flexible.

What steps can you take to make sure your remote onboarding process is effective?

The steps you take to ensure effective onboarding varies, but some of the most important are to establish clear communication channels, prepare a checklist so as not to miss steps, and keep the new hires as engaged as possible.

FAQs

What background check do I need?

This depends on the industry and type of role you are recruiting for. To determine whether you need reference checks, identity checks, bankruptcy checks, civil background checks, credit checks for employment or any of the other background checks we offer, chat to our team of dedicated account managers.

Why should employers check the background of potential employees?

Many industries have compliance-related employment check requirements. And even if your industry doesn’t, remember that your staff have access to assets and data that must be protected. When you employ a new staff member you need to be certain that they have the best interests of your business at heart. Carrying out comprehensive background checking helps mitigate risk and ensures a safer hiring decision.

How long do background checks take?

Again, this depends on the type of checks you need. Simple identity checks can be carried out in as little as a few hours but a worldwide criminal background check for instance might take several weeks. A simple pre-employment check package takes around a week. Our account managers are specialists and can provide detailed information into which checks you need and how long they will take.

Can you do a background check online?

All Veremark checks are carried out online and digitally. This eliminates the need to collect, store and manage paper documents and information making the process faster, more efficient and ensures complete safety of candidate data and documents.

What are the benefits of a background check?

In a competitive marketplace, making the right hiring decisions is key to the success of your company. Employment background checks enables you to understand more about your candidates before making crucial decisions which can have either beneficial or catastrophic effects on your business.

What does a background check show?

Background checks not only provide useful insights into a candidate’s work history, skills and education, but they can also offer richer detail into someone’s personality and character traits. This gives you a huge advantage when considering who to hire. Background checking also ensures that candidates are legally allowed to carry out certain roles, failed criminal and credit checks could prevent them from working with vulnerable people or in a financial function.

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Request a discovery session with one of our background screening experts today.

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