How to onboard remote workers

A man waving to colleagues on a video call as he is introduced to his new team.

The number of people working remotely has risen sharply over recent years, and this trend was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, 16% of working adults in the UK currently work exclusively from home, while 28% have a hybrid arrangement whereby they sometimes go to the office and sometimes work from home.

Allowing remote working can be hugely beneficial for businesses and workers alike. Businesses have a wider talent pool to draw from when recruiting, and they can cut costs by operating from smaller premises. Meanwhile, workers have more potential employers to choose from. Many people also find that working remotely helps them to strike a better work-life balance. In part, this is because it removes the need for a twice-daily commute.

However, there are challenges when it comes to this style of working, and one is to make sure that new employees are onboarded correctly. When workers aren’t physically in the same building as their managers and colleagues, it often requires more of a conscious effort to make them feel at ease and confident in their new roles.

In this post, we look at why onboarding is so important for remote workers, and offer tips on how to do this successfully. We also explore whether or not you need business insurance for these employees.

Why is onboarding important for remote workers?

A good onboarding process is crucial for all new workers, but arguably this is particularly the case for remote employees. If you don’t take appropriate steps as an employer, your new recruits could be left feeling isolated and unsure. They might find it difficult to get to know other members of staff and to feel comfortable dealing with them. They may also struggle to get to grips with your systems and procedures. Remote workers can find it harder to reach out and ask for help too. This means that as an employer, it can be more difficult for you to pick up on any teething issues.

These problems can be overcome, but to do so, you’ll need to have a carefully planned out onboarding process.

Onboarding remote workers: our top tips

With this in mind, here are some pointers to help you get this element of your recruitment process right.

Send all tech, equipment and documentation before their first day

So that your new starters aren’t left in limbo on their first day, make sure you send all the necessary equipment to them beforehand. You’ll also need to provide any relevant instructions and support to help them get set up. If you fail to do this, you risk making a bad first impression as an employer, and your new starters may feel neglected.

From a bottom-line perspective, you’ll also waste time and money while your new workers are unable to start working.

Use video conferencing and get them connected ASAP

Connectivity is key to effective remote working, so your new starters will need access to video conferencing software that allows them to connect with their colleagues seamlessly. Options include the likes of Microsoft Teams, Google Chat and Zoom. User-friendly messaging apps are important too, as is project management software that makes it easier for workers to keep track of progress and deadlines. Here, tools like Asana, and Trello can be useful.

Make sure your remote workers have access to safe and reliable document storage solutions too. Popular options include Google Drive and Dropbox.

Assign an onboarding buddy

Another tip is to match each new starter with an onboarding buddy. This is an existing member of your team who can introduce your latest recruit to the rest of the organisation, provide information and advice, and generally make them feel welcome.

Schedule team meet-and-greets and training sessions

It’s a good idea to book in meet-and-greets and training sessions with other departments and members of staff. This will help to give new starters a full picture of what your company does and what people’s responsibilities are within the organisation.

Schedule regular check-in sessions  

You can’t assume that new workers will always come to you when they have concerns or issues they want to raise. This is true of all employees, and arguably particularly so with remote workers who may feel more out of the loop than office-based staff. Scheduling regular one-to-one check-in meetings helps to tackle this potential communication problem. These sessions, which can be done via video call, give remote workers the perfect opportunity to ask questions and bring up any problems.

Do remote workers need insurance?

As an employer, it’s vital that you have suitable insurance in place to protect your business and your personnel. For example, you’re required by law to take out employers’ liability cover. This protects your business from compensation claims made by workers if they become ill or are injured because of the work they do for you.

Do you need employers’ liability insurance for remote workers?

You might be wondering if you still need this cover if your workers are based remotely. The short answer to this is yes. Even if your employees work from home, legally you must still have employers’ liability protection in place with a minimum cover level of £5 million. You risk being fined £2,500 for every day you lack this insurance.

It’s essential to check the details of this insurance carefully with your provider. While these policies typically provide some cover for workers based at home, this can depend on the exact terms of the policy, the circumstances of the claim and the activities undertaken by the worker. For example, certain policies will only cover specified activities, such as clerical duties.

At Markel Direct, we offer employers’ liability insurance with a cover limit of £10 million. For more details on what this cover protects against, see our employers’ liability insurance page.

Cover starting from £8 a month