Remote onboarding checklist

By Chris Devonshire | 9th August 2021

How to onboard employees remotely.

If you had asked me a year ago if working from home or flexible working would become typical across recruitment and indeed all industries, my answer of no would likely not surprise you.

Many organisations have a tried and tested strategy of onboarding employees, which relies on on-site or face to face engagement. We were one of these businesses.

Having increased our headcount by 300% in the last year, with 90% of all onboarding being remote, we have faced some challenges that I am sure many businesses have experienced. It’s been a steep learning curve and one that we’ve enjoyed figuring out, with our employees.

We wanted to share our most successful initiatives and best practices with you, to help your organisation achieve the same success we have experienced.

Here’s how we found the right balance (eventually) to make remote onboarding an enjoyable experience where our employees felt connected with our purpose, values and our people, from the start.

You’ll also hear from our employees themselves on their experience.

Onboarding checklist

As a technology recruitment business, we value the benefits that technology has delivered to help make the onboarding experience a positive one. But there is still room for the more tangible traditional methods to complement your employees’ journey.

Here are our top 3 focus areas for successful remote onboarding.

  1. Pre-boarding

In our experience, pre-boarding is the first and most important area to invest your time for the best results.

It’s likely that your employees are only starting a month after you’ve signed the contracts. That means you have a four-week window to engage your newest team member.

Here’s a couple of ideas where you can leverage this important touch point to maximum effect.

  • Send pictures or a video of your office. Not only will this get newbies excited about joining, but new starters will also get to see their team members in their future environment.
  • Create a playlist. Ask the team to put together their favourite tunes that get them motivated at work and create a Spotify playlist that you share with new employees.
  • Have weekly face to face (virtual) check-ins. Maintain consistent communication with your new starters to find out how they’re doing. Offer any help you can with areas where they might be struggling.
  • Host a virtual team lunch. This provides your new starter with an engaging way to find out more about their team, in an informal setting.
  • Fun facts about the team. Create short videos of fun facts about team members. This provides the new starter with a personal insight into the individual. These are great conversation starters. They also create the opportunity for new starters to find common ground with their team before they start.
  • Invite new starters to join your weekly team meetings. New starters can get a feel for what is being discussed, what the plans are for the business and how they can contribute to these plans.
  • Add new starters to Whatsapp groups. This is a great medium for new starters to have the opportunity to ask questions of their team before starting. It’s informal and encourages open communication.


Taylor Ironmongertaylor ironmonger recruiter– Recruitment Consultant

“With the consistent contact from both Matt and Chris and the eagerness they shared in meeting in the period of time between signing my contract and starting, made me feel at ease and that I was joining a business that was completely committed to nurturing and developing me. Not only as a recruitment consultant but as a person too.”


  1. Clarity and communication

Employee engagement starts with empathy and compassion.

We take for granted the benefit of communication when your colleagues are sitting next to you. It is your responsibility as leaders to ensure that your people are listened to, supported, motivated and inspired.

Everyone’s home working situation is different. It’s important that you understand how people can be affected in different ways by their environment.

  • Check in regularly. Have regular one to one’s with employees. Provide a clear agenda for employees to understand where they should be focusing their attention and how. This is an achievable programme of activities with outcomes and measures of success. Without you next to them, it’s the blueprint for your employees working and development plan.
  • Take care of employees’ wellbeing. Checking in regularly on progress of work is important. Equally important is finding out how employees are. Not just asking but putting time aside to listen and hear. Read our latest advice on how to prioritise people’s wellbeing and create a resilient and sustainable business.
  • Assign a buddy. Sometimes, hard as we try, employees connect better with their peers. Assign a buddy to each new starter. This provides them with the opportunity to ask questions that they might not necessarily ask you as business owners.
  • Encourage employees to check in with their team. Working together gives rise to collaborative results. Encouraging your employees to check in with one another will expand their understanding of each other and create deep and lasting relationships and mutual respect.
  • Take a minute. Taking a minute to stop what we’re doing allows us to appreciate each other. We laugh, have fun, make people feel good and share the joy because being happy is good for everyone.


Brandon Lobarbrandon lobar recruitment consultant – Recruitment Consultant

“Remote onboarding was a completely new process for me so having that regular point of contact with my new managers and colleagues was essential in making me feel part of the team from day one. What really made the difference for me was having the flexibility to come into the office when I felt it was safe to do so and having a brand-new office to look forward to when we returned!” 


  1. Company culture

Company culture is far more than compensation. It’s an area that can be neglected by organisations as they grapple with the challenges on remote onboarding. For us, company culture underpins everything we do. It’s a shared passion amongst our employees to empower people in technology to inspire innovation and create positive change.

Our collective purpose keeps us working together and focused. Our values are our blueprint for how we engage with each other, and our customers. They are constantly reinforced through action by our incredible team. We’ve had some amazing feedback from clients and candidates demonstrating how our teams live by these shared guiding principles.

Company culture plays a big part in our onboarding experience, all the way back to the interview stage. We recruit people and teams who believe in what we’re aiming to achieve as a business and are inspired by our values. This provides provide clarity of purpose and behaviour, consistently, from the start.

Conor Honeyball conor honeyball recruitment consultant– Recruitment Consultant

“Our company culture is exceptional as it allows me to come to work with a huge smile on my face due to the bubbly office atmosphere and be proud to represent Devonshire Hayes”.



The power of positive onboarding

Remote or flexible working is fast becoming the mainstream approach and businesses must work hard to avoid new and remote team members feeling disengaged and disconnected from the team.

Online interactions can quickly lead to a sense of not-fitting-in, where new employee feels as if they have been left to flounder without efficient induction training or personal team introductions.

Making remote onboarding a positive and exciting experience that engages your employees is a balancing act that takes practice, planning and process.

At Devonshire Hayes, we’re lucky to have our team back together, in person, and we’re loving every minute of it. It is our successful onboarding that that made the transition back to being in the office part-time, such a smooth one.

Good luck with your new employees.

Chris Devonshire

Co-founder – Devonshire Hayes