Virtual Employee Onboarding – Easier than you think

We onboarded our first fully remote employee, during the last week of March 2020, right in the midst of the uncertainty resulting from COVID-19.

Here is Kate Gardner, sharing a bit about her experience as HireMinds’ first fully remote hire!

Kate Gardner- Employee Onboarding Chat

We spoke to Jennifer A. Hayes, HR Consultant for some tips on how she and the team planned and executed the process.


Before Kate joined HireMinds, she received the same welcome letter that all new employees received. Normally, a new employee would receive their laptop and other equipment for both the corporate office and their home office on the first day. However, with the office being closed, we delivered everything directly to her home. We wanted Kate to feel welcomed and ready to get started on first day- but not that she had to figure out things before her first day.


  • Share a formal welcome letter and some company swag
  • Send all hardware necessary, with instructions and a contact to help set up remotely


All new employees have a planned schedule for their first 2 weeks on the job. It’s a combination of online training, 1-on-1 training and group training. Kate’s first day schedule didn’t vary at all from any other new employee. The only difference was that it was all done on Zoom. In the future, we will definitely keep an aspect of virtual training in the schedule. The feedback I received is that it is more efficient. Also, we can record the trainings, so new employees can go back and review something if needed.


  • Detail out a schedule including trainings, welcome calls, meeting
  • Record training sessions for future use


We put together a schedule for all new employees and part of that schedule is getting them set up on their computer, phone, and all other supporting technology we use at HireMinds. With everyone now working remotely, HireMinds wanted to create a virtual WeWork type atmosphere. We stream a Zoom call all day so any employee can jump in and work with others at any point throughout the day. We can do breakout sessions for training with Kate or other meetings. It’s 100% voluntary to be in the virtual office. We also use Slack for both business and social communication.


  • Implement virtual tech and collaboration tools like Slack, Flock, Zoom, Google Docs, Jira
  • Collaboration tools can be used for both business and social communication to keep people connected


HR paperwork was done through Docusign as it currently is with all employees. As of March 20, the US Department of Homeland Security announced that it will defer the physical presence requirements associated with reviewing the Form I-9 documents which would have been the only onboarding item that we could not have done.


  • Utilize employee onboarding software tools and eSignature tools for smooth execution of HR documentation


We always have had a company lunch for new employees on their first day. We felt this wasn’t going to work well….trying to eat and talk on video. Yuck! So we planned a virtual happy hour at the end of the day over Zoom. It was a come as you are and BYOBeverage. We took turns introducing ourselves, answered some interesting questions and revealed some fun facts about ourselves. The team was having a great time and decided to extend happy hour by an additional 30 minutes. (Kate mentioned this as her most memorable moment when joining the team!)

As a company, we are working hard at creating social connections while being virtual. So far we have had a Happy Hour, Birthday Party, Discussions on PodCasts, Lunch and Learns and a Book Club in addition to our normal company meetings.


  • Be creative, tap into employee interests, and utilize video and/or collaboration tools to keep cultural events on the calendar


In Kate’s first 2 weeks, she is learning exactly what every other new employee learns. The only difference is the technology we use to deliver the training will just be a little different. We are taking extra steps to check in with Kate more, simply because we aren’t seeing her live everyday in the office. We give her a call, check in with her on Slack/email and aim to set up additional calls so she can meet each employee within the company.