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The ultimate remote employee onboarding guide for IT managers

woman looking at a freshly opened laptop

Creating an effective remote onboarding process is a challenge. Only 12% of employees believe their companies excel at onboarding. From limited face-to-face interaction to gear arriving late and not properly set up, there are many reasons why remote workers feel this way.

However, this is a problem because a good remote onboarding program sets the tone for new remote employees and will dictate their productivity and engagement level within a company. Brands with a successful onboarding process generate 2.5 times the revenue growth compared to their counterparts.

Now, new hire onboarding may take days, weeks, or even months, depending on your business. But new remote employees shouldn’t be sent a link to a virtual onboarding video, or a Slack invite, and then forgotten about.

This is where a clear IT process comes in handy. Once you have a clear remote onboarding checklist in place, it’s easy to rinse and repeat for every new remote worker.

Here are 7 steps to follow to create an effective remote onboarding process that immerses remote employees in your company culture.

Pre-onboarding preparations

If you wait until day one to engage with a new remote employee, you’ve already fallen behind. 65% of employers reported hiring people who do not show up on their first day. This is most likely due to a lack of contact or no planned onboarding activities. So preparation is key.

1. Gather information about new hires

The IT department must know about all new remote hires as soon as possible. 

Therefore, implement a notification system to alert IT teams about all new hires and share with them information as to their role and department. Doing so enables IT to get to work right away and prepare the necessary gear and information that new hires need as quickly as possible to be sure items don’t arrive late.

2. Review hardware requirements and send necessary gear

Armed with information about a new team member, time to order the necessary office gear and an optional company swag package, they’ll need to succeed.

Ideally, you have a standardized list of equipment so you know what to order depending on a person’s job position.

Start by checking your current office and warehouse inventory. Do you have any items that can be shipped in-house or do you need to buy some, if not all, the necessary gear?

Whatever you don’t have on hand, order through vendors who will ship the equipment to your desired location. And aim to have all gear delivered one week before a person’s start date so they can set up their perfect home office with ease.

Alternatively, you can provide new remote hires with a fixed budget to buy the office gear they need to successfully work from home. However, don’t force them to search for their gear on Google. Use a tool like Workwize which enables you to provide new employees with a standardized library of items they can purchase and access to 50+ vendors that ship locally across the globe. Ensure people have access to such a resource at least three weeks before their start date to avoid shipping delays.

3. Install and configure the necessary software

For an employee to be able to start their job, they not only need office equipment, they need to have access to the necessary software (such as communication tools) to do their job. In addition to a designated company email address and phone number.

To efficiently set up a remote laptop, use zero-touch deployment. A process that allows for the onboarding and deployment of new devices without the need for a technician to manually configure the device in person.

Tools such as Apple Business Manager and Windows Autopilot are two solutions that enable zero-touch deployment for Apple and Windows devices, respectively. Apple Business Manager automates device enrollment and app deployment for Apple devices, ensuring a standardized setup. While Microsoft Autopilot simplifies Windows device configuration and automatically enrolls them in the organization's mobile device management (MDM) solution.

Leverage these tools to minimize setup time, eliminate manual errors, and enhance overall efficiency.

4. Send a copy of your IT policy

In addition to your company values, employee handbook, and various HR-related onboarding materials, new hires need to be aware of any IT-related policies you have in place. In addition to limitations when it comes to using their new gear.

Therefore, before their start date, share any policy papers, laptop management agreements, or general equipment use agreements to ensure that new remote team members are aware of their responsibilities.

Your onboarding agenda

With the preparations done, new employees can successfully start their first day. But that doesn’t mean HR takes over and your job is done. Quite the contrary. To keep building a security-conscious company, here’s how IT teams can play a role in the onboarding process to prevent data breaches down the line.

5. Conduct an equipment and systems check

On a new hire's first day, introduce key people in your IT department and check in with them to ensure that all of their equipment, systems, and software work properly. This not only shows that you care and pay attention to your new hires. But it’s also a preventative measure that stops new employees from feeling frustrated if certain aspects and tech don’t work from day one. 

Additionally, by being proactive, you prevent a backlog of IT tickets from being created by addressing potential issues before they escalate. Saving you time and energy.

6. Organize a security training session

On the new employee’s first day, schedule time between various planned team introductions to host an IT onboarding training session. 

Depending on your organization and needs, you can make this a role-specific training or an entire team training. During this time, walk new hires through the devices, software, and security measures they need to know about.

Explain to employees how they can keep their remote workstations safe. Such as how to share sensitive data with colleagues or whether or not they are allowed to work from public spaces such as cafes.

However, few of us look forward to listening to important cybersecurity information for an hour or more. No matter how vital this information is. To keep new employees engaged, add interactive elements to your virtual onboarding process.

Use video, interactive tutorials, quizzes, and gamification elements to make the onboarding process more fun. For example, make two teams and have one try to access confidential data and another work on preventing this from happening. Such gamification ensures new hires understand how to stay safe when working remotely.

If you use questionnaires to test your employee’s knowledge, implement a notification system that alerts your IT department when someone scores below 80%. Doing so ensures you know when someone needs additional information and explanation. And guarantees all new employees are on the same page and risk-aware.

Lastly, after a security training, provide additional resources and documentation via email for new employees to read in their spare working hours. And follow up with monthly email tips to keep reminding people to stay aware of security risks and how they can best protect their data.

7. Introduce IT support channels

It can feel pretty lonely when a tech issue comes up and you have no clue how to troubleshoot it or who to contact for help.

Therefore, communicate to new hires how they can best reach the IT department with questions or concerns. Whether you are available on Slack, have a ticket system in place, or prefer to be reached via email, be sure to highlight that. 

Knowing who to turn to and how to ask for help will boost your employee’s confidence levels.

Create an effective remote onboarding experience

Onboarding is one of the most important drivers of employee success. Getting off to a strong start creates momentum. So implement these seven steps to develop a powerful remote onboarding experience and productive remote work environment.

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