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Remote onboarding: How to hit the ground running from afar

By Nick Wilson | |8 minute read
Remote Onboarding How To Hit The Ground Running From Afar

It’s increasingly understood that how new hires begin their work at a company continues to affect their performance for years to come. While the shift to remote work has caused some to overlook onboarding, others are using tech to enhance the process.

What took root out of sheer necessity has become a feature of the employee experience (EX) landscape: digital onboarding. As noted in a recent HR Leader article, quality onboarding processes are an investment. The smoother the process, the faster a new hire can get to full productivity and the more likely they are to stick around.

Remote onboarding


Onboarding is difficult for the same reason that getting it right matters so much: it touches on every aspect of the work experience. Lauren Karan, director at Karan and Co, told HR Leader that too often, employers will make every effort to set up the new hire’s IT and will do a great job explaining the technical side of their new position but will neglect the social component of onboarding. The risk of this occurring is even greater when the onboarding process is conducted remotely.

“I think companies really struggle with remote onboarding because it’s so new,” said Ms Karan. Often, “it was all, ‘let’s just send the IT and do the inductions, and then I’ll just have a quick catch up with them, and they’re on their way and ready to go.’ I think that is a danger zone.”

Employers need to be firm and intentional in their commitment to the social side of onboarding since it can so easily fall to the wayside, particularly when face-to-face contact is limited.

“Being really intentional about it is important. But the other thing is when you’re not in the office with them and if you haven’t got regular catch-ups, you need to be available to take their call and answer their questions,” said Ms Karan.

“You need to make that a priority because you don’t want to just leave them sitting there feeling like, ‘well, I’m not a part of the team. I don’t have the answers to my questions. I can’t move on with my work.’”

The idea of being intentional with the often incidental, informal aspects of onboarding was echoed in an article for the Harvard Business Review, which read: “What separates firms that do onboarding best – whether in-person or virtual – is that the work is intentional, and it does not end after the first week, the first 30 days, or even the first 100 days.”

Ensuring recently hired employees are comfortable and informed with their team and the broader social dynamics in the workplace is about more than putting them at ease – though this is important – it will help them get to full productivity faster and more seamlessly.

As a recruiter, Ms Karan has seen employers fall short: “I had a candidate that I was dealing with that had that drama. When he was onboarded, the directors weren’t calling him back, and he was remote and kind of felt disconnected, and it really did affect his engagement in the organisation. He didn’t feel like they really wanted him to be part of the team, which was disappointing.”

Tech: A double-edged sword

Team building is as much a digital phenomenon as an in-person activity. The shift to hybrid and remote working arrangements certainly expanded the role that technology plays in the social aspect of onboarding, but it pays to remember that much of this was already taking place online. It’s important that new hires are readily made aware of these digital communication pathways, particularly when the in-person alternative is not an option.

“There are so many different technologies right now where companies are collaborating and trying to keep in touch with people when they’re being onboarded, said Ms Karan.

“For remote teams, it’s important to have that regular touchpoint where, if they can’t get you, what group are they a part of? Is there a Slack group? Is there a Teams group? Is there some sort of place they can access other people to support them too?” she said.

One trend Ms Karan has noted in digital onboarding is businesses are sometimes conducting their inductions before the new hire begins work. While this might justified as a way to help employees “hit the ground running”, it’s not without its drawbacks.

“You got to be careful about that because you’re doing it in the employee’s time. I still encourage that you should do that online component when they start because you’re asking them to give up their time to do your induction,” she said.

“And I know it’s being proactive, and you want them on the ground sooner … but I do think letting them do that in company time is important.”



An employee is a person who has signed a contract with a company to provide services in exchange for pay or benefits. Employees vary from other employees like contractors in that their employer has the legal authority to set their working conditions, hours, and working practises.

Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.


Onboarding is the process of integrating new hires into the company, guiding them through the offer and acceptance stages, induction, and activities including payroll, tax and superannuation compliance, as well as other basic training. Companies with efficient onboarding processes benefit from new workers integrating seamlessly into the workforce and spending less time on administrative tasks.


The practice of actively seeking, locating, and employing people for a certain position or career in a corporation is known as recruitment.

Remote working

Professionals can use remote work as a working method to do business away from a regular office setting. It is predicated on the idea that work need not be carried out in a certain location to be successful.


Turnover in human resources refers to the process of replacing an employee with a new hire. Termination, retirement, death, interagency transfers, and resignations are just a few examples of how organisations and workers may part ways.

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson

Nick Wilson is a journalist with HR Leader. With a background in environmental law and communications consultancy, Nick has a passion for language and fact-driven storytelling.