How to Onboard a Remote Employee Quickly and Efficiently

In this article, we’d like to share our advice on how Product Managers can onboard remote developers and set them to work as members of the team from the first day.

As a Product Manager, you want development to run smoothly. You want to build a team that is not only technically strong but also able to collaborate and communicate. Only such a team can solve complex tasks efficiently and stay focused on the end goal. And deliver a quality product. So, you interview and hire employees, introduce them to others and daily handshakes do the rest.

However, when you hire remote developers, things get a little bit complicated. Lack of face-to-face communication and time zone difference makes it difficult to understand what kind of a person you deal with.

In this article, we’d like to share our advice on how Product Managers can onboard remote developers and set them to work as members of the team from the first day.

Day 1. Set on the same page

Most likely you’ve already discussed the tools you’ll use and how you build communication. You’ve probably even told about the work process when interviewing a developer. No? Then the first day is the right time doing it. Set clear expectations for the team or a newcomer.

  • What is the reporting process?

  • Who is in charge of what?

  • Who to address issues if any.

  • What are the criteria for efficiency?

  • Collaboration and communication tools.

  • Working hours.

Define goals and expectations

When hiring remote developers it’s crucial to set expectations and agree on the work process straight away. When you hire a remote developer or the entire team at a dedicated model, it means that they work full-time for you and only on your projects. You get results reported first-hand and communicate directly. The team shares your tools, processes, working hours and holidays. Developers work as if they are your team.

For this reason, it’s important that you clearly communicate your expectations to your team and every newcomer. When everyone understands the common goal and his duties, you start to work as one team.  Work out a schedule for availability to attend team meetings. Provide the new-hired with documentation of your onboarding process so that they can reference it for answers and guidance.


One of the main reasons why virtual teams fail is because they do not compensate for the distance between employees. They seem to forget about other team members who quietly live in their own world and cooperate exactly as much as they should.

In a virtual environment, you need to create an opportunity among team members for “direct”, formal and informal communication. Online chat rooms, project management tools and video conferencing should be adopted and used right away.

See also: Why In-house Team Is Not Always The Best Option?

Project / Team Chats

Apart from general corporate and entertainment chats that don’t directly relate to work, it’s important to create a separate chart for each department or project.

Participants text with the project team which they belong to. It is very important that these chats remain “alive”, but not distracted. It is important to discuss some issues for the fact that everyone felt part of a team. But the main thing is to balance because the chat should not distract from work.

Make use of all tools available

Choose the most suitable communication style and tools based on the type of information you are exchanging within your team.

  • IM (instant massagers) for quick interaction. A newcomer may hesitate if to post a question to the project management tool where everything is “official”. But informal chats are a different matter.

  • E-mails – for important interactions e.g. document exchange, elaborating requirements, informing about changes or making announcements.

  • Phone calls or video chats – for daily/weekly standup meetings.

  • Project management and time tracking tools to check productivity.

Never underestimate the power of video

Remote employees may lack the sense of your corporate culture. It is difficult to create and maintain culture through the distance. It’s much better to create a video and use video conferencing services, such as Google Hangouts.

It is useful to record conferences for future employees. Use the video to inspire your team and strengthen the basic concepts of the company’s culture (for example, about your vision and mission). When discussing the ongoing progress, a video chat will give you more visual clues about what kind of a person you are working with and what’s happening to him or her.

Internal management of a remote team

If you cooperate with a vendor on a dedicated team model, it assumes that you fully control the team. But when your team is over 5 members, you may want additional internal management for your team. You need to make sure that the productivity of every member is in place.

Besides, a one-point contact will fasten the process reporting you quickly about the team or individual. It will make your daily communication quick and productive.

Meet in person

We encourage in-person meetings with the client’s team to ensure successful cooperation. From our practice, sending developers to the client’s office or meeting the client at ours are both equally effective ways to enhance relationships. This is the best method to strengthen the company’s internal relations.

Further team extension

If you expand your team new people will come to your company. To quickly onboard new members, every newcomer should start with getting to know the work environment – tools, projects, and processes. For complex projects, there always should be a management hierarchy.

The Team Lead or Senior developer explains the aspects of the project and sets tasks to newcomers. Mid developers take the agreed scope of tasks and responsibilities. If you hire Junior developers, you can provide a set of tasks that would be typical of them and review the quality of their performance.

See also: How to Hire a Great Java App Development Company

Try and test

You do not have to immediately hire a person for a full-time job on a year contract. You can try to work with him or her on a small project, or for a certain period which is called a trial period. For example, at our company, we’ve seen that 3 weeks are usually enough both for the client and a team member to see if each one’s expectations are fully met, and the collaboration will be successful. On completion of the trial, if you are satisfied, go for a long-term assignment.

The transition to a full-time job is very important because on an incomplete working day or a temporary project, the employee’s attention will be divided. It is possible that it will not be available at the right time.

The ability to effectively manage a remote team became a necessary skill. Do everything to make people feel not as separate workers, but as a real part of your team and company. It’s worth it.


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