How To Create A Self-Guided Remote Onboarding Process


As you move to remote onboarding at your company, one of the perks is creating a self-guided process. When all paperwork is filled out and stored online, you can build a strategy using remote onboarding best practices that relies on information found online instead. If you are used to being the holder of all onboarding information, though, it can be challenging to create this self-guided process, even if it’s all online. Today, we wanted to break down how to create a genuinely self-guided remote onboarding process so you can spend less time explaining complicated forms.

Why You Should Create A Self-Guided Remote Onboarding Process

As an HR professional, you probably enjoy people, not paperwork. You provide so much more to your employees than paperwork explanation. If paperwork explanation is taken off your plate, you can work on other important tasks like:

  • Improving retention
  • Building solid connections with new employees
  • Onboarding bigger classes of employees.

Let’s face it. You can’t get to your onboarding goals if you’re stuck in the weeds with every onboarding class. If you have to answer a million questions every time you get new employees, how can you onboard dozens or hundreds of employees at once?

7 Ways To Create A Self-Guided Remote Onboarding Process

Now that you understand why you want to create a self-guided remote onboarding process, let’s break down seven tips to help you accomplish your remote onboarding goals.

1. Use Smarter Forms

How smart are your forms? Now that you’ve created a remote onboarding process, your documents can be as smart as you want them to be. At WorkBright, we ensure that our forms are as smart as possible to improve the user experience and cut down on errors.

Here are some strategies to create smarter forms:

Remove chances for errors by collecting information once.

Do your employees need to enter their names a dozen times? Most forms require a name and date, but your employee doesn’t need to do this. At WorkBright, we collect information once when we can, and add it to the form for your employee. We’ve all had that moment when we’ve filled out our name so often we question if we’re spelling it right. Instead of boring your employees with the details, fill them in automatically.

Use question bubbles to provide more information.

Some forms that need more details if we want our employees to fill them in correctly. Some of your employees will automatically understand those forms, while some need more information. Use question bubbles to provide extra information for employees who need it. You can employ this throughout all of your documents to provide more context for employees.

Keep forms as short as possible.

Think through your onboarding process. Are you creating moments of confusion for your employees? For example, do you need an employee handbook acknowledgment form to be three pages long? You don’t need to get an acknowledgment of every single item in the handbook, just the handbook as a whole. Go through all of your onboarding forms. How can you shrink the number or length of the forms you have?

2. Create A New Flow For Complicated Government Forms

Government forms can be complicated and lengthy for employees. It’s easy for government forms like Form I-9 or the W-4 to confuse employees.

At WorkBright, we wanted to make these government forms as easy as possible by using our electronic employee onboarding platform. We’ve reformatted these forms, so we strip away the complicated jargon and page layouts. We get to the meat of what the form is asking. Instead of looking at long government forms, employees look at a survey they can quickly go through. After they submit their answers, we map their replies to the corresponding fields.

You get the government form you need, and your employees are none the wiser.

3. Create A Wiki With Frequently Asked Onboarding Questions

It’s easier than ever to create a searchable Wiki with information about your onboarding process. Even making a Google Drive document with frequently asked questions will give you one space to point your employees. Sit down and go through all of your forms. What questions are you always answering? Write out official answers to all of these questions and keep them in one specific place. From there, continue to update the Wiki with new questions and answers as you notice trends.

4. Film Videos That Walk Employees Through Onboarding

One enticing way to create a self-guided remote onboarding process is through the use of video. Video is incredibly engaging and easier than ever before. You likely already have fantastic equipment: your smartphone! Use your smartphone to record video, edit the recordings using tools found in the app store, and then upload those videos to a place like YouTube. YouTube links can be easily shared, and you can upload them unlisted, so they aren’t publicly available.

5. Use Reminders To Keep Remote Onboarding Paperwork Top Of Mind

If you want to create a self-guided remote onboarding process, you need to ensure that employees turn in their paperwork on time. What good is a self-guided process if necessary paperwork like Form I-9 is turned in late? Most remote onboarding software will have some form of reminders built-in. At WorkBright, we have a series of reminder emails that go out to your employees. These reminders get more urgent and frequent as the employee’s start date approaches.

If you want to create an onboarding process that feels less overwhelming, you may want to create an ideal remote onboarding timeline for your employees. For example, give them an exact schedule for when they should fill out paperwork. For example:

  • Day One: Accept your job offer, fill out Form I-9, turn in your W-4, and give your employer the right to run a background check.
  • Day Two: Go through your employee handbook and acknowledge it, submit your payroll, and sign any other policies and procedures.
  • Day Three: Tackle benefits administration forms.

Create a simple PDF featuring your proposed onboarding schedule. Your employees can choose to onboard how they like, but providing a proposed plan will help overwhelmed employees get through the onboarding process.

6. Gamify The Remote Onboarding Process

Everyone likes games! You can turn the remote onboarding process into a game! You don’t want to gamify something like, “who turns their paperwork in first.” This competition might do more harm than good as people race to get their paperwork turned in first.

Instead, you want to challenge your employees to make less onboarding paperwork errors. For example, you can tell your new employees that the person who has fewer onboarding paperwork errors gets a prize. You can award everyone who meets the criteria or put those people into a drawing for the prize.

What do you give away to those who win?

  • Company swag
  • Gift cards to their favorite coffee shop or restaurant
  • A custom trophy or medal for the most efficient new employee
  • Extra PTO
  • A charitable donation in their name

When picking a prize, think of the value this employee has given you. By being thorough during the onboarding process, they made your job easier. Instead of going back and forth to fix mistakes, you were quickly able to check their work and move on. That deserves a special reward!

7. Collect Feedback From Your Employees About Remote Onboarding Bottlenecks

It’s easy to assume you know what the bottlenecks in your onboarding process are. Instead of guessing, ask your employees. At the end of your onboarding process, link out to a survey for your employees. What did they enjoy about the onboarding process? What needed more explanation or resources to support it? Can you cut any forms from the process entirely? Ask for open feedback and take action on the feedback you get. Many companies lose employee faith because they hoard feedback instead of acknowledging it and improving the company.


What To Do If Employees Want To Chat With You Instead Of Following Prompts

Some employees are chatty. They’d rather communicate with you instead of reading instructions. You’ll have some employees who will send you a message or give you a call no matter how many resources you share. Here are some ways to deal with those employees.

Share The Reasons Why You Created A Self-Guided Process

Some employees don’t understand the importance of creating a self-guided process. You didn’t do this so you could spend less time with people. You did this so you could spend quality time with employees. Explaining the same forms doesn’t do you or your employee any favors. If you can create a self-explanatory onboarding process, you can focus on tasks that move you and your company forward, like recruiting and retention.

Create Canned Responses For Frequently Asked Questions

Canned responses will save you a lot of time and energy. Create canned responses in your email to questions you get all the time. Whenever you get a question that you have an answer to, add the canned response, make it more personal by addressing the employee directly and giving your reply a few more details, and send it over. Instead of looking at a blank screen, you’ll save tons of time while still answering your employees.

Talk To Them

Remember, you are likely one of the only people this employee has had contact with thus far. Your new employee might have a million questions, but they are probably just nervous about starting a new job and meeting new people. If you have the time to answer questions and be there for your new employee, ensure that you take the time to do so.

You Can Create A Self Service Onboarding Process

You don’t have to be a hand holder to create an excellent remote onboarding process. With the right tools and resources, you can create a process that runs smoothly without you. Every hour you spend perfecting your remote onboarding workflow will save you time down the line.