We all know that first impressions matter. But how much? Studies have found that up to 20% of all new hires resign within the first 45 days of their role. This means that onboarding new employees is critical for retention and engagement.

As our remote population at HubSpot has grown to nearly 400 full-time HubSpotters (with 50% of that population starting as a remote employee), we’ve been fortunate to learn from our remote community and their managers about how to set remote new hires up for success. Here are a few tips that have worked well for our remote community:

Host a Remote Office Tour

Earlier this year, we welcomed Yamini Rangan to HubSpot, our Chief Customer Officer, who works from San Francisco. As a remote champion herself, Yamini’s first office tour was with our remote community. The tour consisted of a virtual Q&A to get to know Yamini a bit better, a remote cribsfeaturing employee workspaces, and an employee panel where seasoned remote HubSpotters shared best practices.

Through hosting the remote office tour, Yamini was able to get a unique look into our remote community, learning more about them, and provided remote HubSpotters the chance to get to know her in a smaller setting. Allowing new remote employees the opportunity to share details about their lives outside of work helps to build that interpersonal working relationship without the need of face-to-face interaction.

Build an Engaging Onboarding Process

Gallup found that only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a great job of onboarding new employees, which leaves a lot of room for improvement. One way to ensure new employees have a remarkable experience joining your organization, is by creating an engaging and inclusive onboarding process for both in-office employees and remote folks.

During onboarding sessions, engage new hires every 2-3 minutes via chat, polls, Mentimeter, annotation or other features, speak with enthusiasm to keep energy levels high, and use the share screen function to reduce friction and create an enjoyable experience.

Set Expectations

At HubSpot, we encourage managers to use a “working with me” document with their team as a way to openly discuss personality traits, stressors, quirks, and learning styles that are not as easily captured when remote. Using a template for this activity takes the guesswork out of getting to know one another and opens the door to leading with awareness to build psychological safety on a team.

Not having the ability to see your team working may be a bit of an adjustment, but you can gain certainty by setting clear, agreed-upon goals for your new hire in the first 30, 60, and 90 days. In a remote environment, it’s important to focus on outcomes rather than micromanaging. Break larger goals down into SMART goals and track these in a shared document and revisit them during every 1:1 to discuss progress and identify roadblocks.

Establish Boundaries

Remote employees have a habit of trying to overcompensate for not physically being seen in the office. In fact, our Remote Work Report found that one of the biggest challenges is overwork, with 35% reporting working for more than 8 hours a day.

As a manager, taking a proactive approach is key in helping to establish a healthy work life balance. Encourage remote workers to step away from the screen or schedule breaks throughout the day, and help new hires define signals for being “done for the day.” To go the extra mile, “leave loudly” yourself. Let your team know when you’re signing off for the evening and encourage transparency by setting working hours or ‘do not disturb’ on communication tools.

Communicate with Intention

We’ve all heard the saying “communication is key.” In a remote environment, it’s important to crank that up a notch and over-communicate. Use video to bring a human element into the conversation, and be cognizant of your non-verbal body language. It’s also important to be mindful of giving your full attention. When you multitask, it sends the subconscious message that whoever is on the screen is not as important and they may feel pressured to rush the meeting to end early.

Create a Team Effort

A manager isn’t the only person responsible for establishing a welcoming environment for remote new hires. It’s important to get the entire team involved to build a strong team culture. Encourage 1:1 meetings between teammates or pair each remote new hire with a more experienced buddy. Creating opportunities to shadow others allows remote new hires to understand different roles on the team and how best to collaborate.

Onboarding plays a critical role in a new hire's success and happiness. And, it’s important to have a thoughtful and inclusive process for remote employees to ensure they feel as though they belong and can actively contribute to your company’s culture and mission.

For more on what it’s like to be a remote employee at HubSpot, and to check out open roles available, visit our remote careers website.

Originally published May 19, 2020 10:00:00 AM, updated January 19 2023