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The face of how we work has shifted dramatically in the last several weeks due to the ever-evolving COVID-19 global pandemic. With timelines remaining indefinite and an undoubtedly “new normal” in the making, we are in a space where we need to adopt new tools and strategies to make remote working environments feasible and effective. 

During this time, you may find the need to onboard new remote employees or provide your existing team members with additional virtual training. Employee onboarding is a critical time to establish connections with your new hires and orient them to your company culture. It’s also a time to level set on expectations so they are well-equipped to perform in the role you hired them for. A remote work environment poses challenges to this process; however, it is possible to virtually integrate new employees seamlessly and successfully.

Check out our go-to best practices for successfully onboarding and training remote employees, wherever they are in the world. 

Preparing for your new remote employee

Celebrate with and educate your team 

Adding a new member to your team is a cause for celebration,, not only because it reflects that the company is growing, but also signals an opportunity for better distribution of work for your existing team. When a new hire is made, make sure to inform everyone in the company that a new hire is starting – at Thinkific, we make an announcement over Slack. 

Next, reach out to and alert their direct team and explain how their new remote team member will fit into the company structure, how they’ll work together, and what responsibilities they’ll take on. 

Make sure your new employee has the tools to succeed

Ensure your new team member has the remote tools they need to work effectively at home – things like a computer, second monitor, charging cable, HDMI cable, mouse and keyboard, etc. Have these items sent to their home prior to their first day so they can kick off day one on the right foot. 

Related article: for tips on tools to help you manage a remote team, check out our article Top 20 Tools to Empower Your Workforce

Select an onboarding buddy or mentor

Starting a new job, while exciting, can also be intimidating, particularly when onboarding and working with a remote team. At Thinkific, we select an onboarding buddy for all our new hires’ first few months at the company. This is the first person they build a relationship with, and their designated person to ask questions and learn about the company culture. 

Pro Tip: When selecting an onboarding buddy or mentor, choose someone in their team or a person they’ll work closely with in their role. You can also select someone who has a similar personality to your new hire, or you feel they’ll get along well with, to help make navigating their first few weeks easier.

Create 30, 60, and 90-day goals

One of the biggest complaints with onboarding is a lack of guidance and clear expectations. Start your new remote employee off on the right foot by setting out clear and realistic goals for their first three months. Tools like Asana are great for helping your new team members keep track of what they need to get done, starting on day one. 

Onboarding remote employees

Make your new employee feel welcome 

While you may be anxious to get into the logistical elements of onboarding, it’s key to start by making new hires feel valued by welcoming them to the team. Kick off a successful remote onboarding experience by sending a virtual introduction about your new team member to the company, sharing a little bit about who they are, and how they will be contributing. This will help your new employee feel connected to the company and empowered to create effective working relationships with their peers. 

At Thinkific, we have each of our new hires fill out a questionnaire before their first day with a couple of fun facts, such as their favorite food and proudest accomplishment. When they start, we share their answers through our company Slack channel to give everyone more insight into their personality. Our current team members are then able to jump onto the thread to give their own warm welcome. 

Get some face time  

During remote onboarding, all meetings with your new employee should be done over video chat to establish a face-to-face personal connection. At Thinkific, our teams rely on tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts to host video meetings. To help build productive relationships between your existing staff and new remote team member, ask your new hire’s direct peers to schedule one-on-one video chats. This will help them get the official (and unofficial) insight into how things operate at your company. 

Pro Tip: Because we know that your team will be getting back to business as usual eventually, consider setting up a virtual tour of your office so your new hire knows what to expect when the time comes to physically return to work. 

Set expectations 

Once you’ve established an interpersonal connection with your new employee and the team, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty of remote onboarding. Create a new-hire checklist that details everything your employee needs to know to be successful within their role. 

Items to include are: 

  • Information about your company culture
  • Necessary training modules to be completed
  • Their 30, 60, and 90-day goals
  • Underlining the individual expectations you have for them as a manager

A training schedule should be developed along with time to check-in with your remote team member to see how they’re progressing and answer any questions they might have. 

Start the professional development conversation early

Just like in-office employees, remote team members have development and growth aspirations that need to be supported and fostered. Show your new remote employee that their professional and personal growth is important by outlining your company’s policy for development and education – and then together, start planning out how to put those goals to work. 

The onboarding process sets the tone for your employees’ success and experience at your company, so you want to get this right. Read on for how you can leverage Thinkific to document, share, and develop your employee onboarding and training experience. 

Using an LMS for onboarding remote employees

Now, you may be wondering, “how exactly do I build remote onboarding training content?” Thinkific is a great tool to use to get your new remote team member up to speed in all things onboarding and training. Our platform allows you to create engaging courses and content that sets the tone and pace for your new employee’s first few months with your company.

If you’re new to Thinkific, check out these steps to get you started with developing your onboarding training materials through our platform.

Step 1: Sign up for an account 

If you haven’t already done so, sign up for Thinkific here. If you’re new to Thinkific, you can start with our free plan and then book a call to discuss our paid pricing plans if you’d like to utilize some of our premium features. After signing up, you’ll receive a welcome email with instructions on how to sign in to your new Thinkific website. 

Step 2: Create and publish your online course

When you sign up for Thinkific, you’ll land on the Admin Dashboard where you can access every aspect of your Thinkific course website. From your Dashboard you can navigate to creating and naming your new course,  adding lessons to your course, and customizing your course player. Then, check out Thinkific’s Site Builder to help customize your course’s website with your own branding and images. Finally, make sure to publish and share your course to get your new remote employee started on their remote onboarding journey. 

Pro Tip: Check out our Thinkific Quickstart Guide for setting up your first remote onboarding course on the fly and then find detailed instructions for each of these steps here.

Step 3: Start onboarding your new remote employee

As a best practice, we generally recommend setting up an employee’s Thinkific account for them prior to their start date. Your new employee is probably already feeling nervous and excited, so having their account ready to go for them on their first day is one less thing they have to worry about.

Once you’ve confirmed your employee can access their account, they are ready to start the remote onboarding process. Progress reports for your courses and employees can be analyzed to track progress to ensure compliance for any time-sensitive training, as well as find any employees who may be struggling to complete the course so that you can provide them with extra assistance. In addition, we highly recommend using Quiz Lessons to test your employees’ understanding of concepts.

Step 4: Get feedback on your online onboarding course

Through Thinkific, you can use survey tools to gather feedback on your remote onboarding course. Surveys are a great way to gain additional insight into your course content and experience to make ongoing improvements to the remote onboarding process. 

Pro Tip: We recommend having a survey at the beginning of your onboarding courses to identify what objectives your remote employee hopes to achieve through your course. Then, provide a survey at the end of your course to gauge if those expectations were met.

Evaluating and improving the onboarding experience

Like any business process, onboarding remote employees is not a one-and-done situation. To continue connecting with remote team members and ensuring the onboarding process is both productive and engaging, it is important to consistently review the process and make necessary adjustments where needed. 

When the onboarding process is executed successfully, new remote team members will have the right tools at their fingertips to do their job well, have familiarity with the company’s culture and processes, and feel empowered to develop productive relationships with their team members no matter how far apart they may be.

Related article: for tips on how to create a productive remote work environment, check out our article How To Bring Your Offline Business Online

As outlined here, there are a number of steps you can take to ensure your remote hire feels welcome, connected, and set up to take on their new, exciting role. Better yet, these best practices can also be applied to current employees who you may require training on new systems and remote work policies. Keep in mind that the training content you create now by using Thinkific can continue to be evolved and leveraged long after the pandemic passes, and we are back to our new state of normal.


Need help getting started with Thinkific? Book a call with our solutions team and get all of your questions answered!