The Importance of Effective Remote Onboarding: 5 Steps to Success

We are living through a period of upheaval that few of us have experienced before, and with any luck will avoid experiencing again. We are trying to nurture careers in a new environment where an introductory coffee or a face-to-face interview isn’t possible. 

By now most of us are familiar with the various video conferencing platforms. With the benefit of this technology, hiring processes can be run remotely, and interviews can proceed virtually. Both candidate and hiring manager can get to know something of the other in a way that traditional phone calls cannot provide.

Where many businesses fall down however is on their remote onboarding provisions, or in many cases, a lack thereof. Onboarding to date has been a uniquely personal experience centred on introducing an individual to the business, their team, and their role. Whilst the search process should ensure that you end up appointing the best candidate for the role, the challenge of integrating them into the business during a pandemic lies ahead. This period of integration can be the difference between a happy long-term member of the team, or needing to repeat a search having already hired who you believed to be the best person for the role. The onboarding period is also the organisation’s opportunity to influence that initial perception, set the benchmark for the future relationship and inform the course of their learning and/or development. Employers reasonably expect new employees to get up to speed quickly, but don’t often consider how to provide the relevant information or access to key individuals to make this possible.

Glovo is a growing technology platform that allows users to acquire what they need in just a few minutes, making cities more accessible. This ‘shop on your behalf’ delivery business should act as an example to any global business addressing its need for remote onboarding. They’re an agile business with the ability to expand their services into a new country in only a matter of weeks. This model has led to the expansion into 26 different countries, most of which they didn’t previously have an office presence in, and they continue to expand their footprint. Long before lockdowns, facemasks and hand sanitisers became so prominent in our daily lives, they were meeting the challenges of an organisation with headquarters in Barcelona and dispersed offices and operations in several other countries.

We spoke to Donal Doherty, Global Director of People and Organisational Development, and Blanca Bofill, Global Organisational Development Senior Analyst, who designed Glovo’s Remote Onboarding process.

“Onboarding is a critical moment of truth for a new employee. After the excitement of the hiring phase, an employee’s first days and weeks at a new company will have a dramatic impact on their short and medium term engagement.

Considering the engagement challenges we already face with standard remote working, we know we need to go the extra mile with remote onboarding.”

Blanca Bofill, Global Organisational Development Senior Analyst

They shared their advice in five key areas for those looking to expand their remote onboarding capabilities with Selena Farooqi, Associate Partner at Eton Bridge Partners here:

1 – Online Learning

Glovo use an online learning portal that provides a modular introduction to the company, its history and its values. It introduces new colleagues to their line manager and the senior leadership team, too. This is all shared via a scroll-through format with content determined in advance and uploaded to the portal specifically for that individual’s profile. They are sent a link in advance to populate a profile, tailoring it to them.

2 – Connecting your Team

This is crucial in making a new hire feel welcomed into the business, especially at a time where

everything seems a little less personal. Early interactions help to form their view of the organisation, their colleagues, and a sense that they are part of a collective. It’s also good for existing team members to forge relationships, impart organisational wisdom, and introduce their new colleague to stakeholders. In an office, this would normally be done by arranging introductory meetings with key stakeholders, so make sure access to these conversations and relationships are still available in isolation.

3 – Hardware and Logistics

Many businesses, including Glovo, have realised the importance of having their workforce adequately equipped to join the business and contribute as engaged employees as early as possible. Whether it’s couriering a phone or laptop to them, ensuring that they have systems permissions, or just making sure they have an email address to communicate from, be sure to plan and implement the hardware solutions to a schedule that sets the new joiner up for success, ideally before their start date!

4 – “Onboarding Ambassadors”

This is a scheme that Glovo have piloted, with each office designating an “Onboarding Ambassador” whose role it is to immerse themselves in the company and communicate the “big picture” to those new to the business. They can give a good impression of the culture, working dynamics and preferred approach to new starters, as well as being a friendly, engaging touch point in those crucial “settling-in” days. This can absolutely be done remotely, by scheduling regular catch ups by video call, or even producing a Q&A document to provide to new joiners. Not every business is in the position of being able to hire a standalone role to onboard new hires, but we can all certainly identify where organisational experience lies, and which of our colleagues might have a helpful or insightful conversation in the early stages of an employee’s career at the organisation.

5 – Collaboration is Key

Onboarding programmes rely on effective communication of a team’s needs. Establish clear lines of communication – like with your IT department or external provider -so that your new hire isn’t waiting for a laptop before they can start. It’s also important for new employees to see the workplace culture, so make sure that they can see cooperation and positive communication between teams and functions. This sets a benchmark for good workplace and/or communication habits. It’s good to feel involved in the whole business, and not just siloed in your team, which is a risk given the removal from interpersonal contact we are all experiencing.

Eton Bridge Partners have produced a guide to Remote Onboarding, which you can find here. It’s designed to provide helpful tips and practical considerations when it comes to introducing new employees to your business, without being able to physically host them.

If you have any questions on the above, or want to sense-check your plans to onboard a new employee, please get in touch.

Selena Farooqi

Associate Partner- Reward
Executive Search
Human Resources


Selena works within our HR Practice, placing Senior Managers and Heads of Reward within FTSE 100 and privately-owned businesses, as well as SMEs.