Until the COVID-19 epidemic, frequent job-hopping cost the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. But the job-seeker’s market has become tight and now favors employers as 26.5 million jobs were lost and unemployment surged to 20% in just five weeks.

“Organizations with a strong onboarding process improve productivity by over 70%.”
Brandon Hall Group

Working from home has become a new normal for millions of Americans—and it may not go away even when the economy recovers. 24% of people currently working from home don’t want to go back to the office and companies are finding that work-from-home employees are more productive and cost less.  

While high levels of unemployment mean that employees working at home are more easily replaceable on paper, it still costs a lot of money to hire and train them. Companies need to make sure that new hires who work from home are successful and that we don’t go back to the billions we were losing due to job-hopping.

According to the leading human capital research analysts The Brandon Group, new hires who go through a standardized onboarding process are 82% less likely to leave a company in the first year and are 70% more productive.

What is onboarding and why is it important?

In addition, having a structured onboarding process is good business. Research by the Aberdeen Group shows that structured onboarding accelerates employee productivity (65%), increases retention (50%), and better connects new hires with their teams (49%).

The Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) defines onboarding as “integrating a new employee with a company and its culture, as well as getting a new hire the tools and information needed to become a productive member of the team.” 

Onboarding is a comprehensive, strategic process that starts as soon as an offer is made to the job seeker and should continue throughout the first year of employment. A positive onboarding experience reassures them that they made the right decision in joining the company, and motivates them for future success.

In fact, the World Health Organization found that companies that invest in treatment for anxiety and depression reap the rewards—and potentially see a fourfold ROI in people’s increased ability to work. This isn’t always intentional. Companies rarely decide to hire as few people as possible and give them far too much work. The stress often snowballs: people leave without being replaced, customers grow, people take annual leave and sick days and workloads naturally increase. These gradual changes lead to employees becoming overwhelmed and unable to cope.

The challenge: How to successfully onboard remote employees

Although companies recognize that first impressions and positive onboarding experiences are important to retaining employees, companies still aren’t doing it well. Only 12% of employees think their company did a great job with their onboarding in the real world. 

Imagine how much easier it is to disappoint or frustrate new hires in a remote office or home office when:

  • Their computer doesn’t arrive before their starting date
  • Their new company t-shirt doesn’t fit
  • Their manager is late to your kickoff video conference
  • They spend several hours on your first day filling out documents—retyping their contact information each time

In the office, a coworker or manager could see the employee sitting at their desk without their computer or see the frustration on their face meeting at a water cooler—but with remote employees, little problems can snowball undetected—and make a formal, high-quality onboarding process all the more critical.

The solution: The new world of remote onboarding

Remote onboarding must go to even greater lengths to be creative, transparent, and efficient to inspire new hires. It must connect them with the company culture and other employees—without the benefit of real-world company events or impromptu conversations at the water cooler. Additionally, it tackles the unique needs of remote employees. Employees will need equipment to be shipped to their homes, and possibly even a guided setup session with someone from your team. They also may need help setting up their office, or a 101 primer to WFH productivity.

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Key elements of successful remote onboarding

Successful remote onboarding should include logistical preparations that enable the remote employee to begin work on the first day as well as communications that educate the new hire about the company’s culture and create a sense of transparency and camaraderie.

The remote onboarding process can be separated into logical phases reflecting the changing needs of the new hire throughout their first year of employment. Each phase has its own goals supporting the development of the new hire and preparing them for the next phase of their onboarding process.

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The preboarding period is used to reinforce the new hire’s decision to join the company and reduce apprehension regarding their new job. This period will also be used to set up the remote office and minimize the logistical bureaucracy of the first day.

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Days 1-30

This period is designed to make the new hire’s first day a positive, productive experience, and to begin to connect the new hire to the company culture, set goals and start becoming productive.

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Days 31-60

This period is designed to further acclimate the employee to the work processes of the company, increase their social connections, and help them become successful.

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Days 61-90

This period is designed to keep the employee excited as they achieve greater independence and increase their productivity as they build social connections and find their place within the company and its culture.

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Kick-off your remote onboarding process with bob

The bob platform includes a number of tools and workflows that will help you smoothly onboard both remote and in-house employees.

Onboarding workflows

  • Set up remote onboarding flows to easily request and collect the right information from each employee without being tedious or overtaxing.
  • Automate the details of the onboarding process so you can set it and forget it
  • Personalize onboarding for remote and in-house talent with just a few clicks
  • Create a consistent, high-quality remote onboarding experience
  • Ensure excellence by never forgetting the little details

Jumpstart engagement during preboarding

  • Excite your talent before day one by giving new hires a feel for your company and culture.
  • Showcase your company culture
  • Share custom images or videos
  • Personalize preboarding and onboarding communications with fonts, formatting, and autofill fields

Reduce first-day bureaucracy

Let new joiners complete their details online and upload copies of documents during preboarding so they can spend more of their first day on getting to know their teammates and their new company.

  • Distribute key handbooks and policies for perusal and reading in advance
  • Collect only the details you need, no more and no less
  • Finish most new-hire processes before day 1

Build social connections

Introduce new hires to your company, culture,
and team before they join to set them up for success. Let them discover
coworkers who share interests and hobbies with the option to connect with them

  • Reduce first-day jitters
  • Kickstart working relationships
  • Build social relationships without the water cooler or company cafeteria

Set tasks

Walking is a proven way to improve mental health but leaving the workplace during the day is a tough ask for some. Remove the guilt and anxiety around people leaving the office for 30 minutes by sharing local walking routes and asking your senior team to champion walking meetings. Make these breaks as normal and essential as a morning coffee.
Help new starters get quickly oriented with bob’s automation for new hire tasks

  • Set up customized workflows broken down by tasks
  • Empower stakeholders to easily collaborate

Set goals

Motivate productivity by putting meaning behind what your people do with vision and company alignment.

  • Easy to track KPIs
  • Spot top talent as individuals or teams
  • Assign objectives


Use surveys to periodically get feedback from new joiners to ensure their success.

  • Enable anonymous feedback
  • Measure new employee health and culture acclamation
  • Personalize surveys with a form editor

Meet bob

In today’s rapidly-changing employment landscape, HR leaders need to build the company culture that engages and retains both in-house and remote employees, from onboarding until forever. and fosters comradery and commitment. That’s why we built bob, an employee experience platform that was designed to put people first. The main tools that bob uses to onboard remote employees can be found in our onboarding and preboarding workflows, social connectivity, goal and task setting, and more.