New Hire Checklist: How to Onboard Remote Employees

January 29, 2021

When it comes to onboarding remote employees, the term “start as you mean to continue” holds particular truth.

The first three months of a new team members initiation into your company is pivotal in setting them up for success (both in terms of their own career satisfaction and in terms of your organizational goals), making them feel heard, and fostering a productive, results-focused working dynamic. 

This whole “remote onboarding” experience - and how to carry it out - while once the exception for most businesses, is fast becoming the rule. In fact, studies suggest over 57% of small business owners will maintain some kind of work from home option for employees post-pandemic - a figure potentially buoyed by 6 out of 10 Americans reporting they’d like their job less if they had to go back to the office full time. 

So what’s the takeaway here? Well, it looks like remote onboarding is here to stay

But questions still remain: how can you make your remote employees feel welcomed (especially if some of your staff still works from the office?) How can you streamline the remote onboarding process so it doesn’t cost you excess time and capital? And finally, how can you make them feel part of your organization, and aligned with your overall organizational values - no matter how far away they are? 

Don’t worry - we’ve got a checklist all lined out for you. Let’s dive in. 

New Hire Checklist: 

1. Send Them A New Employee Welcome Basket or New Hire Swag Kit

  • What Should A New Hire Welcome Kit Include?
  • Examples of Staple Items
  • Examples of Creative Items

2. Create an Onboarding/Training Document

  • What Should I Include In My Onboarding Doc?

3. Help Them Feel Part of the Team

  • Setting Up Meetings With Their Manager
  • Setting Up Meetings With The Team
  • Connecting With Other Remote Employees

4. Final Takeaway Thoughts

1. Send Them a New Employee Welcome Basket or New Hire Swag Kit:

What Should A New Hire Welcome Kit Include? 

When brainstorming new employee swag bag ideas or new hire gift boxes, it’s easy to get lost in the mayhem. Nearly everything can be put into an onboarding swag kit, from oil diffusers, to plants, to stickers! 

The best new hire welcome kits will include a mix of staples (think hoodies, sweatshirts, and water bottles), as well as a couple of thoughtful gifts that indicate you appreciate your new hire and their worth - both inside and outside the office. 

This kit, pictured below, includes 73% dark Craft chocolate, Good Water filter coffee, a Champion gray sweatshirt, a sturdy, high-quality tote bag, and an accompanying mug for their new beverages!

This hits on our next point: your welcome to the gift ideas, no matter what they include, should always be aesthetically pleasing and coordinate if possible. Notice how in the above instance, all the gifts - on an individual level - are beautifully wrapped and presented, and when put together, create an impactful, thoughtful gift that indicate the recipient put time, thought, and effort into creating this new employee swag box. 

We especially appreciate this New York Times welcome package for new employees. They include beautifully coordinated, striking colors, paired with on-brand picks (the notebooks are an excellent touch for a writing-focused company), and their logo is effortlessly intertwined in the design of their gifts - it’s not overpowering or so striking that it detracts from the quality of the items themselves. 

What are some examples of staple items to include in my new employee swag box?

We encourage you to try and include at least three, preferably 4 or 5 staple items that are considered “crowd-pleasers” and are sure to see a lot of use. 

Items might include: 

  • T-shirts
  • Hoodies
  • Pens
  • Backpacks
  • Reusable water bottles
  • Coffee tumblers 
  • Baseball caps 

Because these items are so basic, and everyone uses them frequently (if not daily), then it’s of utmost important that you prioritize high quality materials in the making of these items. For that reason, we suggest that - whatever swag company you use to fulfill your custom welcome kit for new hire - you go to their website and check out examples of “welcome to the team gift ideas” or the like that they’ve recently created. For instance, Gemnote has instances of our Google new hire gift packages that we worked on, and that you can find pictures of here (in addition to our swag creations with Slack, Amazon, Gusto, Netflix, and DocuSign!). 

Notice how in all the instances of office welcome gifts or new employee swag bags, there is usually 3 or 4 of the basic pieces that we outlined above. We suggest that, especially when it comes to these items, you include your logo on these items - wearing their company hoodie or T-shirt is often a source of pride for workers, and by ensuring that the design is done in a tasteful, creative way that reflects your brand - you’re sure to see plenty of your employees donning their items over Zoom! And if you’re unsure on how to create your perfect looking customized basic? Don’t worry - Gemnote has a curation and design team on hand to help you create the perfect gift (and you can even get a sample sent to you, too, before you order a larger shipment!). 

What if I’m looking for creative employee onboarding swag kits? 

Innovative, unexpected swag is an excellent way to complement the thoughtful, high-quality basics in your onboarding swag kits. Perhaps your company is a lifestyle brand and you don’t necessarily want to send the typical tech swag - some fun, unique items that your employees have probably not received before may include socks, candles, hand soaps, and even iPads!

We particularly like the mix of textures, fabrics, and uses in these examples: candles and hand soaps are thoughtful options for those who work from home, as they’re small gifts that your remote workers will continue to see long after they’ve opened your initial package, and so they act as a daily visual reminder that you - as a company - care about having them on your team. 

2. Create An Onboarding/Training Document

What Should I Include In My Onboarding Doc?

Most likely, on their first day, your new employee will feel like a fish out of water. That’s why it’s so important to - early on! - outline expectations clearly, give them a detailed onboarding plan. Specifically, give them a timeline for onboarding, explain the basics, and outline a guide they can follow for their first 1 month (minimum). 

We recommend including on this holistic onboarding document: 

a) What applications they should download and their log in details 

  • Slack, Microsoft, business email address, etc 

b) What trainings they need to complete, and by what date

  • Particularly for SaaS, data technology, or similar companies who have complex softwares and technologies employees should become acquainted with - detail why the training is important, why it’s relevant to their job, and when they should aim to have it completed by 

c) Who their supervisor is, and who their immediate coworkers are

  • This sounds too simple to even appear on this list, but you will be surprised - sometimes due to unclear communication or organizational restructuring, it is not always immediately obvious where the chain of command lies. Make it super clear who your new employee is reporting to, what their responsibilities are, and what their superiors responsibilities are too. 
  • Also include names and pictures of coworkers (if this isn’t already in a company portal already) so new employees can look up their team members, without mixing up names and feeling embarrassed!

d) Details of their onboarding process, and expectations for the next 3 months 

  • Explain how long the onboarding process is expected to take, and discuss what tasks need to be completed during this time 
  • Of particular importance if your new employee is on a probationary period for the first 3 to 6 months of their job: explain what criteria they will be evaluated by throughout this uncertain probationary period!

e) Administrative information, benefits, etc. 

  • Proactively set up a meeting between your new employee and a HR person to answer any and all questions this new addition to your team may have regarding benefits, retirement schemes, and expectations for remote workers. 

By outlining clear expectations, targets, organizational values, and structures from the start, it is much easier for a new remote employee to get their bearings and begin to feel comfortable in the new parameters of their job!

3. Help Them Feel Part of The Team

Set up a one-on-one meeting with their supervisor 

This is so important - try to do this in the first few days of them starting their new job! Set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour to discuss over Zoom or Skype any questions they may have about the onboarding process, any issues with the materials they’ve been given, and especially if their role is technical or their onboarding requires training, make sure to schedule in other meetings to discuss features or benefits they don’t understand with their supervisor (or appointed mentor). 

Make sure to encourage them during this time to ask any and all questions they have. This should set the stage for the beginning of a collaborative, open working relationship in which they feel they can innovate, be curious, and make mistakes (obviously within reason) without fear or repudiation or penalties. 

Set up a meeting with their team 

Next, set time in every member of your team’s calendars to jump on a video call for 30 minutes. The supervisor does not necessarily need to be on this call, but it is good to have an agenda for this meeting to guide the discussion. 

For instance, make sure, in this meeting, to go over: 1) names, backgrounds, job titles, responsibilities, and roles, 2) advice they would like to give to any new hire about the organization/job role they’re fulfilling, and 3) opportunities to learn a little more about team members, for instance where they’re from, what university they went to, what they like to do in their spare time. Try to foster a casual, informal environment in which your new remote employee can connect with their coworkers without feeling too much pressure or formality around the occasion. 

As an added bonus, consider connecting them with any other remote employees - whether these employees are on their team or not. This doesn’t have to necessarily be another meeting, it could be an introduction over email or Slack, but it gives your new employee the opportunity to relate to someone in a similar position to them! In addition, your other remote employee can share any advice they have regarding increasing productivity while working from home, any roadblocks to expect, and how to overcome them/stay connected with the rest of the team/organization. 

4. Final Takeaways to Onboard Remote Employees

To wrap up, it’s important that from Day 1 to Day 90 of onboarding (or whatever your timeline may be), you create and follow a streamlined process for your new hires.

This means having a new hire welcome kit - or several different kinds! - on hand. (We recommend saving the high-end swag kits that include items like AirPods, leather notebooks, and oil diffusers to high-level execs and keep the more modest kits for managers and employees). That way, you have these kits ready to go for your employee to receive on their first day and make them feel welcome. This may also mean for each department or team creating a detailed onboarding plan which you can distribute easily to new hires so they know where they stand, and what the organization’s expectations are. And finally, streamlining this process means automatically setting up processes like meetings with managers, team members, and other remote employees early on, so that your new employee can feel settled and part of the team as soon as possible. 

Remember: happy employees are engaged, motivated employees! So make sure to create an open, welcoming environment in which they can ask questions, connect with coworkers, and feel welcome. 

...and if you want help creating bespoke, aesthetically pleasing new hire kits or welcome baskets, Gemnote can work with you to deliver these creative packages on whatever timeline you’re working with. Check out examples of our beautiful work at our website, or get in contact with us directly by shooting us a message!

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