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Remote Onboarding Best Practices for a Seamless Experience

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With more people working remotely than ever before, it’s important to reevaluate the crucial steps taken when virtually onboarding new employees. Indeed, onboarding is all about making newcomers feel as though they are part of the team as they learn the ins and outs of the business.

In this blog, we look at some of the best practices for remote onboarding, an element of the modern workplace that is reshaping how employees and employers connect, while also highlighting how virtual offices are just as important as physical ones.

1. Clear Communication and Expectations

One of the fundamental pillars of successful remote onboarding is establishing clear communication channels and setting expectations from the outset. Employers should provide new hires with comprehensive information about their roles, responsibilities, and the onboarding process itself.

A prime example of effective communication comes from Buffer, a fully remote company that openly shares their onboarding documents, including a detailed schedule, role expectations, and resources for new hires. This transparency sets the stage for a smooth onboarding journey.

Being that effective personal and professional development for remote employees relies on transparent communication, it is also important for employers to arrange regular check-ins, feedback sessions, and goal-setting discussions to create a supportive and engaging environment. This approach not only fosters a sense of belonging and support but also ensures that new hires are well-informed and feel valued from the start.

2. Regular Review of Onboarding Tools & Technology

Ensuring that new hires have easy access to the essential tools and software required for their roles is paramount to a seamless onboarding experience. In addition, advancements in technology have also introduced innovative solutions for remote onboarding. Companies like Hibob and Enboarder, for instance, offer AI-powered onboarding solutions. These platforms streamline the onboarding process by automating tasks, providing personalized experiences, and ensuring a smooth transition for new hires into the digital work environment. As technology continues to evolve, these AI onboarders contribute to creating a more efficient and user-friendly onboarding experience for remote employees.


3. Assigned Onboarding ‘Buddy’ or Mentor

Assigning a go-to guide as part of the onboarding process offers numerous benefits that contribute to the success and satisfaction of new employees. Aside from the regular feedback, knowledge transfer and support, here are several compelling reasons why having a buddy is essential to the remote onboarding experience:

  • A smoother transition: A mentor helps new hires acclimate to the company culture, facilitating a smoother transition into the work environment. Additionally, this person can offer more immediate guidance on day-to-day operations, office protocols, and team dynamics reduces the learning curve for new employees.

  • Peer connection: The mentor or “buddy” often function as peers, creating a more approachable and friendly atmosphere for new hires. It fosters a sense of camaraderie and helps new employees build connections within the team.

  • Social integration: Beyond work-related matters, buddies can introduce new hires to the social aspects of the workplace, such as team outings, virtual gatherings, or informal traditions. This contributes to a positive work experience and reinforces a sense of belonging.

  • Higher retention and engagement: The presence of a buddy contributes to higher employee retention rates by helping new hires feel supported and connected. Engaged employees are more likely to stay with the company and contribute positively to its culture and success.

  • Shared learning: This system is not a one-way street; it benefits both the new employee and the buddy or mentor. While a buddy often gains leadership and mentorship experience, enhancing their professional development, the new hire learns how to fulfil their new role with confidence.

4. The Extra Mile

It’s worth mentioning that companies like Salesforce, a global CRM leader, have a robust onboarding program that includes assigning each new employee both a formal mentor and a buddy. The mentor provides career guidance, while the buddy helps with day-to-day questions. This dual approach ensures that new hires have access to both professional development support and immediate assistance for a smoother transition.

Often from a similar role or department, the mentor provides insights into the company's culture, values, and long-term career paths. By having a mentor dedicated to their professional growth, new employees gain a valuable ally who can help them navigate the complexities of their roles and understand the broader organizational landscape.

A buddy, on the other hand, serves as a friendly companion for day-to-day questions and concerns. Unlike a mentor, a buddy is more like a peer, someone who has recently gone through the same onboarding process. This immediate assistance can be instrumental in addressing the practical aspects of the job, such as understanding internal processes, learning about team dynamics, or simply getting acquainted with the digital tools and platforms used within the company.


5. Virtual Welcome Sessions & Interactive Onboarding Modules

Interactive onboarding modules can include a mix of videos, quizzes, and virtual tours to provide a comprehensive overview of the company culture.

Virtual welcome sessions showcase the commitment of leadership to the onboarding process. These sessions, often led by executives, provide an opportunity for new hires to understand the company's mission, values, and future direction. Google, for instance, hosts a virtual "Noogler Orientation" to welcome and integrate new employees into its unique culture.

Moreover, to add a personal touch to the onboarding experience, consider incorporating the 16 Personalities quiz . This fun quiz can help team members understand each other better, fostering stronger connections within the virtual workspace. By combining engaging virtual sessions, interactive modules, and personalized activities like the personality quiz, you create a well-rounded onboarding experience that sets the stage for a positive and collaborative work environment.

Additionally, Zoom emphasizes the importance of virtual coffee breaks and team-building activities, creating opportunities for informal interactions. This approach nurtures team cohesion in a remote setting.

6. Structured Training Programs

Building on the concept of a structured training program, it's crucial to emphasize the adaptability and accessibility of such initiatives. Consider incorporating a mix of live webinars, pre-recorded modules, and interactive simulations. This diverse approach caters to various learning styles and ensures that remote employees can engage with the material effectively. Furthermore, providing mentorship opportunities within the structured training program can enhance the sense of connection and guidance for new hires.

A prime example of a structured training program comes from HubSpot, a leading inbound marketing, sales, and service platform. HubSpot's Academy offers a wealth of online training courses for employees, covering various aspects of the company's operations. This allows new hires to progress through their training at their own pace, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of their roles.

An additional example would be Salesforce, which offer a gamified learning experience with badges and points, making training interactive and rewarding. This approach not only educates new hires but also makes the onboarding process enjoyable. Additionally, leverage industry-specific certifications to validate and showcase employees' skills, enhancing their confidence and credibility in their roles.


7. Regular Check-ins and Support

Regular check-ins are essential as they provide a structured opportunity for team members to communicate and share updates, ensuring everyone is on the same page regarding project progress and goals. These frequent interactions help build a sense of connection and collaboration among team members and new hires, especially in remote or distributed work environments where face-to-face communication may be limited.

Daily check-ins also offer an opportunity for addressing challenges or roadblocks promptly, allowing for agile problem-solving. This contributes to an improved team cohesion, individual well-being, and the overall success of projects by maintaining alignment and addressing issues proactively.


8. Flexibility and Adaptability:

Flexibility allows HR teams to accommodate diverse needs, preferences, and time zones of new hires. By tailoring onboarding processes to individual circumstances, HR can demonstrate a commitment to inclusivity and employee-centric practices.

Additionally, adaptability is crucial as it enables HR to stay ahead of evolving remote work trends and technologies. Embracing new tools for virtual onboarding, adjusting communication strategies, and incorporating innovative training methods showcase an organization's agility in responding to changing circumstances. This adaptability ensures that the onboarding process remains relevant and engaging.

Moreover, flexibility and adaptability contribute to a resilient and supportive work culture. HR teams that embrace these qualities can swiftly respond to unforeseen challenges, such as changes in team structure or sudden shifts in work priorities. This proactive approach fosters a sense of security and trust among new hires, promoting a positive onboarding experience.


By implementing the best practices outlined above, organizations can create a seamless onboarding experience for new hires, fostering a sense of connection, engagement, and productivity in the virtual workspace. As the work landscape continues to evolve, the ability to adapt and optimize remote onboarding processes will undoubtedly contribute to the long-term success of both companies and their employees.

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