How can you onboard someone, remotely?

While some are already geared up for working from home, for many it is a completely different working style that takes some getting used to. We’ve been doing it since early 2020 at Robertson Bell, and with a few adjustments, we have found we can adapt quite quickly to this ‘new normal’.

Many of our clients are asking how they can successfully onboard new team members without having any in-person contact. It’s a challenge, but businesses are already starting to do it, and many with surprisingly positive results.

Here are some tips from us on how you can do this successfully.

Make use of your technology

The first and most important point to make is about technology. It goes without saying that good technology is integral if you want to successfully work from home and manage your business remotely. If you haven’t already invested in it, then now is the time to look at video conferencing platforms and internal communications tools. Tools like our video platform ‘In-sight’ are already proving their worth. Take time to get to know them so you can truly get the most out of these resources.

When onboarding someone the first thing you should do is plan ahead to ensure they have the tools and equipment at home to start straight away. Deliver laptops or phones to their homes and arrange IT training as a priority so they immediately feel connected and part of the business.


Hand in hand with technology is internal communication. We’re all in this together and we need to stay in touch to provide regular support and encouragement, whether that’s through messages, emails, video calls or chats. Any meetings that would ordinarily have happened in person can be recreated virtually – whether that’s coffee meetings, or chats with a buddy or mentor. Before they join, make sure you are in regular contact with the individual, so they know what to expect on their first day.

If possible, involve members of the leadership team

Create a packed schedule for the first few days and take some time to brief your new starter on the company, the business and their responsibilities. Diarise time for all members of the team to get in touch to introduce themselves – and make sure these happen. If possible, make sure a senior member of the business is available to speak to the new starter. It need only take 15 minutes but will be appreciated by the new starter and will go a long way in providing reassurance in such a challenging time.

Line Manager Responsibility

Line managers for new starters have a responsibility to ensure they are regularly checking in. Daily calls discussing key tasks and deadlines will help provide a bit of structure for more junior team members, or daily check ins for more experienced members of staff will help provide support and will ensure that work is being completed as it should.


There are so many online tools that enable split screens and so training does not need to be put on hold. In fact, it could be an ideal time for businesses to upskill their workforce and ensure that, once this situation has passed, - and it will do so - the business is set up for success. 


One final, but no less important point is that of socialisation. It might not be possible to head to the pub together on a Friday, or have a first day lunch, but use your imagination to think about how you can recreate these online. These could be weekly video coffee mornings across teams, involving the new starter. Or a ‘welcome lunch’ where everyone gets together remotely to get to know each other a bit better. Drinks after work could still happen – but in the comfort of your homes! There are plenty of ways to maintain the all-important social element, help build team spirit and give your employees time out from the world of work.

While it is an extremely difficult time, it is still possible to on-board team members in a way that makes them value the company and want to work there for the long term. Remote working is the way forward for the immediate future. By embracing it, thinking creatively and treating it as business as usual, it is possible to continue operations with limited impact.

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