If you want to build a successful remote onboarding program, you’ll need to be intentional about every detail. How do you build relationships? How do you give new hires a proper introduction to your company and team culture? And how do you make their first few days engaging — and maybe even fun?

Remote onboarding means no office tours, team lunches, or coffee breaks (at least in the traditional, in-person sense). It won’t always make sense to simply take your traditional onboarding sessions and turn them into video calls either. But it’s not an excuse for dropping social activities from the agenda and hoping your new hire will figure everything out on their own.

Upgrade your new hire onboarding process for a brave, new (remote) world with these four best practices.

1. Put information at employees’ fingertips

Empower employees for self reliance whenever possible. Create a central hub where you document frequently asked questions, contact details for key departments like HR and IT, and other information new hires are likely to seek out.

Many distributed-only companies like Zapier and GitLab stress the importance of helping employees build the habit of knowing where and how to find key information themselves.

2. Resist the urge to over-index on video meetings

Video will often be your go-to substitute for in-person meetings. But scheduling video meetings all day, every day is a quick way to overwhelm and exhaust your new hires.

Avoid Zoom fatigue by scheduling breaks, holding some conversations over Slack or email, and allowing time for new hires to research and learn on their own.

Strive for short, frequent check-ins instead. In a remote setting, it’s better to aim for more frequent, shorter bursts of communication. You never want a new hire to go for too long without the opportunity to ask a question, raise a concern, or share feedback.

3. Assign new hires an onboarding buddy

Onboarding buddies — someone who’s not the new hire’s manager who can help answer early questions — are even more important in a remote setting. When assigning buddies, decide what makes the most sense for your company. You might choose someone from a different team or department to help your new hire build cross-departmental connections.

Encourage buddies to check in frequently and schedule several check-ins throughout the first week. Microsoft found that the more a new hire met with their buddy during the first 90 days, the more likely they were to say the buddy helped them quickly become productive in their role.

The right match is also important when choosing an onboarding buddy for your new hire. During their pilot program, Microsoft’s guidance to managers came down to three key characteristics:

  1. Buddies should have sufficient knowledge about the new hire’s role.
  2. Buddies should have a strong job performance history.
  3. Buddies should have time to assist the new hire.

4. Capitalize on the strengths of remote onboarding

You can create more accessible and scalable content with on-demand videos and other learning materials.

A platform like Udemy for Business, for example, allows you to create customized courses that are only available to your employees. You can easily segment material by region, department, or role type. Plus, employees across time zones can engage in learning whenever it’s convenient. Learners can also pause, take notes, and rewatch this type of pre-recorded video content.

Welcome to the new world of onboarding anywhere

Two-thirds of US workers say they’d like to continue working remotely even after the pandemic ends. But the importance of onboarding isn’t going away even as distributed teams become the norm. Learn how to master onboarding new hires remotely in The Definitive Virtual Onboarding Guide for Distributed Teams.