Quick Tips for Onboarding Remote Staff

  • Send a welcoming message with links to resources, including New at Duke.
  • Ensure new hire has necessary technology and support to set up and configure access to appropriate Duke systems
  • Review support resources for managers on the Duke HR website.
  • Schedule more frequent one-on-one meetings to answer questions and check in
  • Include non-work topics for at least 15 minutes to facilitate relationship-building
  • Establish an onboarding buddy to offer support and help build internal network
  • Schedule initial assignments and meetings with other team members and co-workers
  • Schedule opportunities for casual virtual meetings (coffee break, lunches, happy hour) to allow new staff member to get to know other team members.

With the broader use of remote work arrangements, many supervisors are facing a new challenge – how to successfully orient and bring on board new staff members who will work remotely.

Your standard onboarding checklist will serve as an important guide, but because everything is virtual, more structure will be necessary. The information about an organization’s culture and internal processes typically gained by informal conversations in the office will require more structure and intention.

Even before a new hire's first day, a manager should have reached out with a welcoming message and selected a team member to serve as an onboarding buddy to share advice and navigate the experience for the new hire.

During the first few weeks, set up more frequent one-on-one meetings to answer questions and provide support. Your new hire will likely have questions as he or she encounters new information, different parts of the organization or new processes.

But be sure to ask your own questions, too. It's also important to ask new hires what tools they need to be successful in their roles. Supervisors should think about how they are ensuring their employees feel like they are valued and heard. Are you providing them with enough resources? Are you helping to create micro-moments of belonging? Are you helping to create empowering environments that allow employees to stay connected and collaborate?

Creating an onboarding buddy or mentor can help provide insights and other perspectives as your new hire begins building a network of support. You're building a foundation for the new hire to have new relationships in the workplace and helping them to have a voice, which is even more important when they are remote.

Virtual onboarding should never be a "one-and-done" video session or phone call. It should be an iterative process, conducted over multiple, interactive video sessions that provide an overview of the department and its internal processes, as well as the institution and its values. Experts believe that the onboarding focus needs to last past an employee's first week on the job.

Onboarding can also include scheduled training sessions, one-on-one meetings with other staff members or onboarding buddy, an all-team presentation, and a virtual coffee break, virtual lunch or virtual happy hour with the team to get to know co-workers in a more casual setting.

Making sure new hires have the right technology and know how to set it up is another important consideration. In an office environment, you may have IT support help set up technology resources for your new hire. If the equipment is being shipped to a remote location, the new hire may need additional support to set up and configuring technology resources to ensure they can successfully perform their roles.