Remote Onboarding

All Aboard! 5 Remote Onboarding Pitfalls to Leave Behind

April 26, 2021
12 min read

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It’s estimated that 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least five days a month by 2025. With companies making the shift from in-office to remote (some even permanently),  onboarding has never been more important for a new hire’s experience. According to Glassdoorgreat employee onboarding can improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by over 70% 


Evan Hallward at Aboard

We spoke with remote onboarding expert, Evan Hallward, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Aboard, a remote onboarding software designed to save time and keep employees engaged. Evan shared the top five remote onboarding pitfalls his customers experience 

Before we dive into the five pitfalls, we asked Evan to share what a good employee onboarding experience actually looks like. 



Question: What is a key element for good employee experience when it comes to remote onboarding? 

Evan’s Answer: Organization! In my experience, you can deliver a mundane, even boring, onboarding experience to your new employees and it would still be better than providing no, or a lesser version, of that experience. This is because what people crave in their first few days and weeks in a new role is some level of structure and expectation of what is to come. While getting a new role is exciting, ensuring that youre providing that new employee with a comfortable and understandable transition plan will pay dividends throughout their entire tenure with your organization. 

Question: How can good remote onboarding impact a team’s productivity? 

Evan’s Answer: Let’s start with a fun stat. IGallup’s State of American Workplace Reportinterviews show that only 12% of employees strongly agreed their organization did a great job onboarding new employeesConsider then that 88% of employees either partially agreed or outright disagreed that  their organization did enough to onboard.  

The impact that good remote onboarding has on a team is far reaching, with productivity and tenure directly benefitting from a standardized welcome for new employees. 

When done right, good onboarding enables new hires to get to producing the valuable work they were hired for, in less time 

Question: What areas should you focus on when you’re creating a remote onboarding experience that delivers productivity? 

Evan’s Answer: There are three main areas to focus on that delivers productivity: 

  1. Equip your new hire with the right tools and accessibility required to perform their work (has your company laptop ever arrived late?)

  2. Clearly show your new employee where key resources are stored and ensure they are able to access them (see point 1).

  3. Enable the interpersonal connections for support and guidance (this may be the hardest, but arguably most important). 

Additionally, games, lunches, and content-like videos can be worked into a remote onboarding plan to enhance the employee’s experience and engagement. These should all be considered as ways to achieve these top three points for influencing team productivity.  

By thoughtfully creating an employee onboarding experience, not only could a business see individual productivity increase for that new hire, but they should also see wider team productivity improvements as any scrambling or “it fell through the cracks” moments are avoided. 

Now, that we know what goes into a good remote onboarding plan and its impact on productivity, here’s Evan’s top five pitfalls to avoid when you’re onboarding remotely and what to consider instead. 

Pitfall #1: The 10-page, all-in-one “guide” (i.e. boring content)

This can be great as a reference piece for links, organization charts, or other key information pieces, but it’s not onboarding. 

Tip: Mix up the content 
Incorporate engaging elements like videos or creative, but more importantly interactive things such as surveys, games, learning opportunities, etc.

Pitfall #2: Lack of clear networking or connection opportunities 

With everyone stuck at home, failing to explicitly connect your new team mate with others within the organization will (not “might”) have serious impact on that individual’s experience at your company. 

Tip: Create clear connection points 
Implement a buddy system, foster connection with individual managersleaders, and ensure the onboarding plan includes at least one social gathering such as a virtual lunch, ice breaker social hour, etc. (bonus points if these are recurring or numerous). 

Pitfall #3: Trying to create a fully “async experience” 

This includes recording everything as a video, sending everything over to a new employee, and keeping call-times to a minimum.

Tip: Don’t over automate 
Onboarding cannot be fully automated, rather, ensure that your plan includes explicit interpersonal connections and touchpoints.  

Pitfall #4: Thinking remotely = totally digital (i.e. your team receives nothing physical) 

Just because we’re not physically bringing people together in offices or workspaces, doesn’t mean we still don’t enjoy some IRL swag. Feel free to skip Fedex-ing a stress ball or stickers to your team, there are many appropriate and useful things you can send instead (don’t forget to support local!). 

Tip: Put something in your employee’s hands  
While we may all be physically separated, put something physical in your employee’s hands. Coffee? Some tech? At least food! 

Pitfall #5: Hanging on to that great in-person/office onboarding you had 

This is easily a square-peg-round-hole scenario. The onboarding program you used to welcome new employees in person will not cut it anymore. 

Tip: Re-think your onboarding plan 
Onboarding has always been a pain point to begin with, take the opportunity of our current work-life situation to re-think it from the ground up. 

If youre looking to revamp your onboarding plan, look no further than Aboard. 


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About the author


Teamit helps growth-focused companies recruit top talent, scale quickly and build high performing technical teams in North America and South America.