Remote

Lessons learned when onboarding remote team members

Lessons learned when onboarding remote team members

Katie Lio
Katie LioMay 22, 2020

As part of our ‘Remote Work’ series of blogs, I thought it would be valuable to share what the onboarding and induction process looks like in an entirely remote environment like WORK180. You can read about Hiring Remotely and Working Remotely in our previous blogs.

Over-communication is your friend

We believe the key to remote working in general - but certainly when onboarding a new team member - is to over-communicate. When sending out the employment contract, we also add our policy documents, handy contacts and an introduction to our finance, tech and admin support person that will help get our new starter up and running from day one

Welcome gifts

As part of a new starters induction package, we include a WORK180 T-shirt and tote bag. We may not be physically together, but we certainly look the part! Ensure your new team members receive a warm welcome, both in the lead up to, and when they join your organization.

You may also want to consider ordering welcome gifts from social and ethical suppliers who employ women or people from underrepresented groups.

Be clear, be organized, be onboarded!

A real shift from office to remote work is the ability to introduce any new starters to their colleagues, leaders and stakeholders within your business. To ensure our new starters receive a holistic view of the land from day one, we create an induction schedule that includes meeting each team lead, training, an overview of OKRs (Objective Key Results and an induction to the company culture and ways of working.

Technology makes the world go round

The first piece of software our new team members are introduced to is the WORK180 wiki, housed on Nuclino. Nuclino is an affordable platform that allows you to deposit, search and share information with whole teams. Within our wiki our news starters can find helpful information including - hints & tips for technology, a rundown of their first day, brand colours and guidelines, and even a profile of each member of the company. We are advocates for a fun wiki profile that lets the rest of the company know who you are - especially when you may just be Elvis!

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Like all meetings at WORK180, we use Zoom video conferencing to hold each of our induction meetings with new team members. It is important, as a remote team, to get as much face time with your fellow team members and leads as early as possible. Not only does this encourage more personal relationships within your remote workforce, but it sets the tone for all meetings within the company.

Whilst we are used to operating remotely, we asked our Australian Endorsed Employer La Trobe University about moving to a completely different onboarding process.

Work Placement Student - Selin Cankaya - who is in her second year of Accounting Finance and Data shared her experience two weeks into her placement

"I envisioned my work placement experience to be in an office setting filled with employees working around me – instead I was working from home, by myself. At first, I was nervous as everything was new to me and I had never before learned how to perform a job via video call. However, the experience has run smoothly and has turned out to be quite pleasant. I feel like I am not learning any less than if I was in an office."

Selin’s experience mirrors the feedback we receive from new starters at WORK180. In fact, most people report feeling more connected with colleagues than when they used to work in an office!

Our last request during our induction process with a new team member is an introduction on Slack. We use Slack as our main communication tool throughout the day, and especially when introducing a new team member. Asking your new team member to introduce themselves on Slack is the remote version of asking a new team member to introduce themselves in the all-hands meeting on a Monday. It also allows the rest of the team to give them a very big, emoticon/gif filled welcome!

Don’t overload

As I am sure we all know, starting a new role can come with a lot of new information. Try not to overload new team members in the first week.

You may want to think about staggering the information you share in those early days. If a new starter doesn’t need to learn about a specific process or product in their first week, perhaps hold off on talking them through it. This staggered approach will give you the opportunity to check-in and chat to your new team member more over their first few weeks in an informal way. We found this to be very effective in helping people process information and settle in comfortably.

We also ensure that new starters are having one on one meetings with their manager either daily or weekly for their first month with the company. We taper these catch-ups as new team members settle into their roles, and agree on the ongoing cadence together. These catch-ups are often split between weekly or fortnightly one on one’s to discuss work and priorities, and monthly meetings to discuss personal development.

We recommend a two week check-in conducted by your HR team to collect feedback regarding the induction/onboarding and the new starters expectations vs. reality of coming to work within your company. This has proven invaluable to us at WORK180, and helps to continuously improve our processes.

Team calls are great places to meet

Even after having new team members introduce themselves on Slack and create a profile on your company wiki, we like to have our new starters share a little bit about themselves - it can be personal or professional - on our company-wide team call. This is another great opportunity to have your remote team bond on a more personal level, and ensure that everyone is aware that a new member has joined the team.

An open-door policy is the best policy

Probably the last but most important advice we can offer people that are new to onboarding remotely is to ensure you are available. It sounds simple, doesn’t it?

Think about the amount of basic - or complex - questions that are asked by the watercooler on a coffee break, or over the partition of a cubicle. These types of questions can range from administrative processes to questions regarding the strategy of the company or who to go to if you need help. We have tackled this in multiple ways;

Our entire leadership team is committed to an open-door policy that welcomes any team members questions at any time. This fits well with our culture of constant feedback and means team members feel comfortable to ask anyone for what they need.

Our wiki has a section called ‘Who’s who in the Zoo’ that lists the lead or owner for every aspect of our business - giving new recruits (and even more seasoned team members!) a great index of people to reach out to for more information.

Slack allows any team member to post a question at any time and receive a timely response. We have Slack split into multiple channels that allow our team to ask a question specific to certain teams or subjects eg. global sales, website discussion, marketing requests, but also broad channels for discussion eg. watercooler, announcements, customer success. Questions via Slack are answered, on average, within 20 minutes of being posted, so that everyone can be set up for success in their role.

As you can see, communication, check-ins and making people feel at home in both the organization and with technology make up the key themes of our induction and onboarding process. Ensuring a new team member has a sense of support and belonging from day one will go a long way in removing any challenges with regards to onboarding your team remotely.

Going further

If you are interested in an interactive workshop that covers hiring, onboarding and working remotely, please contact us at hello@work180.co or check out our available workshops.

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About the author

Katie Lio

Katie Lio


WORK180 is a jobs board with a difference! We pre-screen employers on paid-parent leave, pay equity, flexible working arrangements and more. Find your dream job here.


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