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How to do Remote Onboarding Successfully

July 14, 2020

7 min read

Screaming kids, barking dogs and patchy internet… working from home has its challenges. But imagine if you have to start a completely new job without the support system of an office. 

It’s a daunting prospect for any new employee – and also for the employer. How do you introduce someone to their role, the company and their colleagues fully remotely? How do you make sure they’ve got everything they need? And how do you ensure they feel part of the team? 

Because Attest has scaled quickly, growing from about 20 people to more than 100 over the last 12 months, our People team has had to work hard to refine the onboarding process. Since we switched to working remotely during coronavirus, they’ve worked even harder to adapt our onboarding process so it can be carried out online.

Feedback from new starters had been resoundingly positive, so we wanted to share our experience for the benefit of other companies tackling the challenge of remote onboarding. We asked Senior People Development Advisor Ella Beirne to explain how Attest has adapted its process, and caught up with Client Experience Representative Ish Ladak to find out what it was like to have his first day at Attest from home.

The employer perspective

Ella Beirne, Senior People Development Advisor @ Attest

How have you adapted the onboarding process to be administered remotely?

Our onboarding is extremely comprehensive, which is something we’re really proud of. When we first went remote in March, it was vital to us that we tweaked our process to work just as well (if not better!) than the ordinary process, where new joiners could visit us in the office and so on.

There are three key areas of our process that we have adapted to be administered remotely. This includes the kit we supply to new joiners, the way we introduce them to the company and their colleagues, and how we prepare them for remote onboarding.

What kit do you supply to new joiners working from home?

We provide all new joiners with a generous hardware package, where they can choose a Windows or Apple laptop, a monitor, mouse, keyboard and so on. Previously, we would order this to our office, where we would set the laptop up ready for the new joiner. Now, we order hardware to our homes, set it up, and then send it all off by courier to the new joiner’s home ahead of their first day. 

Setting up all the tabs and creating accounts on all the key software helps to reduce the stress of trying to do this yourself, especially remotely! We also provide them with branded swag (think t-shirt, stickers, lanyard and so on). This has always been a fantastic way to help people to really feel a part of Attest, so was absolutely something we would continue when working remotely. 

We have a stock of our swag at our home addresses, which we distribute to new joiners in their hardware package. This means that, ahead of their first day, the new joiner receives a package with their hardware set up in advance, kit for a decent home working set-up and branded swag.

How do you make new joiners feel part of the team?

This is the second key area. Getting to know others at Attest, our product, how we work and the more technical side of their role is absolutely vital. Not only to help people feel welcome, and make those all-important connections and relationships but also to help educate people and provide them with a real 360-degree view of the business (which is much harder to do remotely). 

To combat this, in addition to the 30-minute onboarding sessions that new joiners have with every department, we schedule 1-1s with others in the business throughout the first few weeks and a remote coffee/lunch in advance of their first day. We upload detailed articles, processes and policies to our collaboration tool Notion and we provide new joiners with access to this before their first day. We also send a survey to new starters at the end of week one and mid-way through probation to see how they’re finding the experience, as well as have regular check-ins with them.

How do you prepare new joiners for remote onboarding? 

It’s new territory for most people, so it was important to us that we could provide a document that would clearly communicate how the process would work, what to expect, and also to simply acknowledge that we are aware it’s a slightly unconventional way to start a journey with a new organisation. 

We provide access to a Notion page as soon as they have signed their contract, which details this. We also make it very clear that we’re always on hand to answer any questions they may have, at any stage, and keep our communications super friendly (with lots of emojis) to create a really warm welcome.

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The employee perspective

Ish Ladak, Client Experience Representative @ Attest

What initially attracted you to Attest?

The culture and the product. I got the sense that Attesters were excited not only about the product, but about coming into work, seeing their colleagues, and genuinely loving their jobs.

Migrating over from the charity sector, I wanted to continue feeling like my work was valuable and to be excited about it, but not at the expense of sacrificing a meaningful culture with the people I’d be spending most of my time with.

How did you feel at the prospect of remote onboarding?

Apprehensive. With everything that was happening nationally and globally, it was difficult to imagine a remote onboarding going smoothly.

How did it feel to be onboarded remotely?

Apprehensions-be-gone! I was so appreciative of how organised and efficient all my onboarding sessions were, as well as the infrastructure and systems Attest had in place to make my working day from home go smoothly (laptop preloaded with all the software and bookmarks I might need; the resources in the online learning hub Attest Academy; the thoroughness of our collaboration tool Notion).

What did Attest do to help you feel included and welcomed?

In the absence of being able to grab lunch, coffee or a drink with colleagues to get to know them, simple things like being involved in fun Slack channels or random conversations with colleagues made me feel like part of the company, and gave me that spring-board to try and get to know people. Attest uses Slack’s Donut feature, which introduces you to a different person every few weeks via video call.  

Was there anything that surprised you about your onboarding?

I was expecting it to be much more difficult and confusing. So, it was a good surprise to have the opposite experience!

What made your onboarding experience at Attest different to other companies you’ve joined (besides being done remotely)?

The organisation of my onboarding experience was impeccable (thank you, Ella!), and I’m sure all the other new starters can ‘attest’ to that. 

If there was one thing you could pick from Attest’s onboarding and implement in other companies, what would it be and why?

Having my onboarding sessions booked in and equipment set up and ready to go prior to my first day. Starting a new job anywhere is always a bit stressful. Doing so remotely amidst unprecedented global events presented different challenges. So, being able to hit the ground running without traversing the cognitive roundabout of sussing out the company’s systems, processes and infrastructure was beyond helpful.

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