Kabir joined a new organization during the COVID-19 pandemic, in work-from-home mode. He couldn’t meet his colleagues in person, but was eager to get started all the same. His manager sent him the processes, policies and tools and set up a three-day orientation for him and a few other new hires. His manager made sure he understood that it’s important to take time to learn about the tools he’ll be using every day. Kabir then went through an online video set that taught him all about his company’s vision, philosophy and work culture.

This is an example of remote onboarding. It’s a process that lets employees get started without ever setting foot in the office. Managers of remote employees usually provide them with all the information needed to succeed at their new job through a virtual onboarding process.

There are two major categories of remote employees: those who work from home (e.g. telecommuters) and those who work from a remote location, which may include telecommuting, remote working from home in distributed teams. Regardless of the type of remote employee, it’s difficult to ensure the remote staffing function runs efficiently. Virtual onboarding programs are an effective solution for HR departments to make sure that new hires are getting started on the right note.


  1. What Is Virtual Onboarding?

  2. Virtual Onboarding For Employees

  3. How to Implement Remote Employee Onboarding

  4. Benefits Of Virtual Onboarding

  5. Challenges Of Virtual Onboarding

What Is Virtual Onboarding?

Onboarding is a critical function in HR departments as it prepares new hires for a new role. Here are some ways to optimize your onboarding program even before the new employees join:

  • Have a complete and updated job description so recruiters can be more effective in finding candidates

  • Coordinate with managers to prepare the inductees for each stage of the onboarding process. This includes making sure they’re aware of key dates and other activities during onboarding

  • Make sure your pre-employment assessments and interviews are consistent and rigorous across all locations. If they’re conducted differently at different locations, it could create confusion when the employees start work

Once the new team is in place, the virtual onboarding process is the equivalent of an interactive orientation. It’s a process where new recruits are introduced to key areas of the business, such as policies and routines, by being guided through a series of online videos and presentations.

Hiring remote employees often calls for a virtual orientation. When employees are new to a job, it’s important for them to be aware of the overall mission and goals of the organization.

For the human resources team, here’s what a virtual onboarding checklist might include:

  • Send the recruit a welcome package

  • Outline a formal onboarding process for all new hires

  • Make sure you have the right technology and tools to make your virtual onboarding process seamless

  • Hold an interactive orientation

  • Facilitate on-the-job learning

Remote onboarding is a digital way to help an employee transition into your organization.

Virtual Onboarding For Employees

Now that we’ve seen what remote onboarding entails for the organization, let’s look at it from the employee’s perspective. Here, the virtual onboarding process looks a little different. These are the stages it may follow:

  1. Learning about operating day-to-day tools and workflows, including mobile applications and digital systems

  2. Learning the correct ways to use social tools, professional networks and collaboration software like Slack or Yammer

  3. Getting familiar with the organization’s intranet and other information sources that will help them do their job well—product manuals, training videos, employee resource sites

  4. Learning about the organizational culture

  5. Learning about the business’s values and how they align with their personal values

  6. Finding out about the policies, both formal and informal, including a review of perks and benefits

Whether the employees are staffed on-site or away, remote onboarding is a great way to get them started in a new role quickly and efficiently. That’s when the value and meaning of virtual onboarding can be realized.

How to Implement Remote Employee Onboarding

Your investment in the onboarding of new employees through a virtual platform can be reduced by understanding what makes an effective virtual onboarding program. Here are some tips:

  1. It’s critical to test all aspects of your onboarding process. You don’t want to launch into it with no real-world testing or feedback.

  2. Ensure your team is trained on how to deliver high-quality virtual onboarding programs.

  3. Make sure you gather feedback from participants to ensure you have met all their needs.

  4. Keep track of what works—and what doesn’t. You can’t improve your onboarding process without measuring it.

  5. You must be mindful of the fact that as you deliver your training online, you need to translate all of your general instructions into specific steps that the new hires can easily execute.

  6. A remote orientation program is more effective when a human touch is added. Assigning a personalized contact for each new employee can help with successful completion. A manager or supervisor should communicate with them and be available as a potentially helpful resource.

With the right tools in place, your organization will be all set to conduct remote employee onboarding to unleash its benefits.

Benefits Of Virtual Onboarding

If you’ve taken these steps, you’re ready to reap the advantages of delivering your onboarding program through a virtual platform. Here are some to look forward to:

  1. It enables you to scale onboarding as you gain more hires or extend your reach. If the organization is onboarding many candidates and employees, it can use a virtual platform to easily scale up or down in terms of the number of people handled in each group.

  2. It can save time and money. Organizations don’t have to train each new hire from zero and can focus on the things that matter most as soon as they start work.

  3. It’s flexible. It can deliver training to new hires any time and from anywhere, making it convenient for employees. This means they aren’t required to take time off work, yet they can learn the information they need as soon as possible.

  4. It can provide better results. Employees who are first onboarded through a virtual platform typically can access the training information continually and learn on their own schedule. This could be better for some learners, in some situations.

With the pandemic forcing all offices to adopt work-from-home, virtual onboarding has been widely adopted in recent times. We can expect it to stay.

Challenges Of Virtual Onboarding

There are some challenges associated with implementing a virtual onboarding program as well. Some aspects to consider are:

  1. A virtual onboarding program requires dedicated HR staff in order to deliver the training on time.

  2. It requires a lot of data exchange between your HR department and the various locations where new hires are joining so that you can have a unified approach.

  3. It requires management support. Since virtual onboarding depends on the involvement of IT specialists or HR professionals, it’s imperative to get support from managers to ensure they can complete their tasks in accordance with their organization’s goals.

  4. It may take more planning. The more iterations of the onboarding process you have, the more challenging it is to ensure they all match one another. Thus, the onboarding team will need to plan and coordinate with all stakeholders to make sure the training program is consistent across all employees.

  5. It requires creative design. With a virtual platform, you don’t always know in advance which employees will access the training materials or when they’ll start work. This can create design challenges when you’re  creating the learning materials.

  6. It requires an IT-savvy workforce. The HR department or employees need to have knowledge of information technology to ensure the programs run smoothly. Indeed, without IT support, it might be impossible to have a virtual onboarding process at all.

Remote employee onboarding—whether virtual or in-person—can be a daunting process for new recruits. Harappa’s Placement Success Program prepares students who want to get off on the right foot with key skills that’ll make settling into any new job that much easier. From connecting with interviewers and coworkers to creating a strong first impression, the program teaches 15 must-have Thrive Skills for students about to join the workforce. Learning how to decode the job description is the first step to understanding what the new role needs. The ability to ask probing questions with a positive attitude will help your students go far. Learn all this and more with the Placement Success Program.

Explore Harappa Diaries to learn more about topics such as Performance ImprovementLeadership Skills, On The Job Training and Off The Job Training from Harappa that will help organizations tap into their employee’s potential.

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