Guide #002: How to Onboard New Product Team Members Remotely

Onboarding is your chance to start new employees off on the right foot. Plan in advance and continue the process over the first few weeks.

Send a welcome package to your new employee before Day 1

Once you’ve secured a start date for your new employee, get their preference for a computer and system set up. For example, do they need an external monitor, ergonomic mouse, specific keyboard, or other desk configuration? Ship these items ahead of Day 1 with enough time for set up. If possible, send office supplies and company swag to reinforce the feeling of starting a new job, with a warm welcome from the new family they will be a part of. Make sure to include setup instructions, IT support contact info and any other technical information they’ll need to “show up” on Day 1.

Schedule 1:1 onboarding meetings for Day 1 and check-ins throughout the first week

Set up your first onboarding meeting for the morning of Day 1. The timing of this meeting will help set expectations for what time the work day should begin. Send a check-in message (via email or chat app) end-of-day on Day 1. Onboarding doesn't end on Day 1. Make sure to check in throughout the first week to see if they have questions or need help finding any documentation, people, etc. Set up another check-in at the end of the week. This one doesn’t have to be in the morning, but give yourself enough time to go over questions or issues encountered during the week. Treat this meeting as a retrospective of the onboarding process and get week 1 takeaways. These insights will prove valuable and helpful for the next person you onboard.

Present your onboarding deck on the morning of Day 1

Create an onboarding presentation that you can share on the morning of Day 1. Use your presentation deck to cover topics like a company overview, role overview, team structure and org chart, meetings and operations, and a “next steps” checklist. Send this presentation to your new employee right after your Day 1-morning meeting so they can use it for reference throughout the week.

Review the org structure and how people work together

As part of your Day 1 onboarding presentation, review an org chart of teammates and key stakeholders. Describe the day-to-day working relationships as well as how the new employee might cross paths with key people within the organization. Explain how decisions get made that impact the workflow the new employee will be participating in.

Add your new employee to team and product meetings

Add your new employee to relevant recurring meetings / standups / ceremonies. If there is a delay in email access, include meeting call-in/log-in details in your onboarding presentation. Include a short overview of the purpose of the meeting and who the attendees should be. Introduce your new employee at the beginning of the meeting and if the attendee group is small, ask participants to introduce themselves, possibly with a fun fact if your group is into that kind of thing!

Review how the company makes money and the role your team plays in that process

Explain the business model of the company. Set the context for how your team or product enables the company to achieve its goals. Review the key metrics for your team and explain why they're important.

Use a Week 1 checklist to highlight important activities

Put yourself in this new employee’s shoes. After their first onboarding meeting, they could still feel in the dark and not sure exactly where to turn to next, especially if they’re being onboarded remotely. Let them know what comes next by including a checklist of key activities they should initiate or participate in. Use the checklist as a reference tool when checking in. Ask your new employee to share any roadblocks or challenges they encounter while working through the list.

Let the new employee test drive the product

Give your new employees the tools to familiarize themselves with the product—the goal being to go through customer or user flows the way a customer or user would. This can include access to a test environment, instructions on setting up a test account, test credit cards for checkout, etc. Your new employee provides you with an opportunity to get fresh eyes on the inner workings of the product, so encourage “silly questions” and explain things that you might consider as obvious.

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