New Job Orientation for Remote Employees

While we have plenty of resources for how to onboard new hires, there isn’t much info with regard to new job orientation for remote employees. How do you handle off site employee orientation? What do you say? How do you communicate?

Today we’ll look at all that, plus I’ll share a few ideas on how to make it especially valuable for the employee. New job orientation isn’t easy, and it’s even harder when you’re off site! Here’s the message from a reader that got my brain fixed on the topic:

Just read your article about Onboarding. Some really useful stuff there but I was wondering if you have ever written about trying to onboard a new employee in a remote location where there is no team in place yet. I am currently doing this and came across your article in my desperate search for some help. — I'm located in our office and the new employee is located in the remote office which has the awesome advantage of being in a different time zone. We do have employees in the office there but nobody who will be doing anything like his specific job. This is also my first employee ever so I'm having a minor meltdown as you can imagine. There are so many things like taking them to lunch etc that I can't do so I'm trying to figure out ways to substitute these kind of team bonding activities. We are going to be hiring a few more people in the next few weeks but I want to try and get it at least partially right with this first one so that he doesn't run screaming from the building. Any advice would be most gratefully received.

Here’s what I had to say.

Very neat! I definitely agree that you have a challenge on your hands. I would make it a point to use video chat if you have that capability. That’s the most personal, and personable, interaction you can have with someone who’s thousands of miles away. Another neat idea might be to do a quick video tour of your local office, show them who else works for the organization, and let each person wish them a quick “welcome” message. That would take ten minutes to walk around, record, and upload/send, but it would be very valuable for creating a connection among the staff.

If you have the capability, you might also put together a short writeup on your culture, what it’s like working there, and the things your leaders believe in. I’ve attached the one I recently put together as a sample. If there are no standing meetings in place, this is a great opportunity to create one and allow each location to kick in a few ideas about what they are working on, any issues they are facing, etc. over a group conference call.

Let me know how it goes!

How to approach new job orientation for remote employees

Here’s a short video where I discuss this topic.

Additional resources

What about you? How do you handle new job orientation for remote employees?

2 thoughts on “New Job Orientation for Remote Employees

  1. Jen Endsley

    Our company has 15 branches in 5 states with some branches having less than 5 people. I’ve started using webcams to onboard new hires, “attend” the first round of interviews with the hiring manager, and conduct required training. One thing I love about webcams is the ability to hold up an object or paper and show or point to a spot for emphasis, something that cannot be done by phone. Also, webcams can be used for simple conversations to connect and add the HR touch.

    I would recommend using an external webcam that has 1080, not the usual 720 like most built-in webcams. The picture is clearer and the webcam cost is about $75 a piece which is relatively inexpensive. You’ll easily recapture that cost in one conversation instead of paying traveling expenses!

  2. shana

    I work for a small company these days that has offices around the US as well as in India and the UK. While our India office has their own HR person, the UK office does not. Additionally, across the US, we have an office in Denver as well as 2 dozen people that work remotely out of their homes. So new hire orientation can be a bit on the challenging side from time to time.

    We don’t use or issue webcams so we do a lot of our orientation via goto meeting or webex along with some emails and a module in our HRIS. So prior to starting, each new hire receives an email that tells them what to expect on their first day, the time/info about the orientation, and what we’ll need them to do during their first week. We then do our orientation (which I will freely admit needs to be completely revamped) to go over the basics. Then a few days after the orientation, we send them a follow-up email reminding them of any key paperwork we still need and a list of key resources, including our corporate youtube video page with a lot of pretty silly videos, and some other internal resources. Additionally, in our HRIS, there is a whole onboarding module with information about our culture, our vision, our mission, that they can read as well.

    Even if it’s not in person, they do get to hear a voice – and our HR system has pictures of everybody so they can see what you look like and some names to call if they have issues. It’s worked out well for us.

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