Operational Excellence

Remote onboarding – the new reality?

3-minute masterclass

The past weeks, both our professional and private lives have changed tremendously. Most of us are more or less confined at home and only essential travel is allowed. Consequently, working remotely has become the new standard. In this new living situation, technology is one of our many saviours. It allows us to easily communicate with family, friends, colleagues and clients. But what is the limit? Some things still have to be done in person, right? Let’s say, starting on a new project in a company you’re less (if not at all) familiar with. Well, we’ve put this to the test.

To hire, or not to hire?

We noticed, even in these exceptional circumstances, many companies didn’t implement a hiring freeze. They still need to ensure business continuity as well as progress on strategic projects. COVID-19, or any other event that would force knowledge workers to work remotely on mass, won’t stop companies focusing on both run and change. So, how do you make sure they can work efficiently?

You’re not allowed on site but need to be onboarded to your project.

Usually, when you start on a new project, you go on-site, receive an access badge and the necessary equipment. You also get a secure id or token for a VPN access (if applicable) and sit down with the project team. Unfortunately, due to current circumstances, this isn’t possible.

Secure id or access token

Companies find themselves in a new and unknown position. They’re trying to do as much as possible remotely, and onboardings are no exception. A secure-id or token (with the necessary instructions for connecting remotely) can easily be shipped via postal service or sent by encrypted email. But, keep in mind that it is of utmost importance that this kind of information is provided in accordance with the (cyber)security policies and procedures of the organisation.


Regarding the equipment, we’ve seen several options. Some companies send devices via courier. Others request 1 essential travel to pick up and test the device(s) on-site. A third option, specifically for cloud-based organisations, is giving the newbie access to the company’s cloud solution, which they can access from their personal device.

So, the equipment is delivered and approved. But this still doesn’t mean the external resource is fully operational. How do you integrate the newbie in the project team?

This question is less straightforward as every situation is different. But hard to solve doesn’t mean unsolvable. Today’s technology is again the rescuer in this situation. Most companies have some kind of mechanism in place that will allow team members and colleagues to easily collaborate. One company will simply use their network and emails, another will use team platforms such as SharePoint, Teams or Slack. You can also stick to video conferencing tools such as Webex, Skype for business, Zoom, etc.  

Every platform and/or tool has its strengths. With the right combination, you will make it easier for the newbie to get up-to-date and familiar with the project or programme. It will also help him/her find his place in the team more easily.

Unfortunately, it’s not all sunshine and roses. We have experienced obtaining remote access to some client tools is not only a matter of logging in. Sometimes additional installations are required, which in the current situation, proves to be more difficult as the installations can only be successfully completed if you are hardwired to the client’s network. Using a remote desktop solution can be a viable workaround, but you need support from the client’s team or helpdesk.

Our conclusion? Remote onboarding is indeed possible. A remote team integration is a two-way street and it requires effort from the client’s project team as well as the new resource. Technology is a big support in doing this remotely but there are still many struggles and risks you need to consider. Explore what tools, platforms and ways of working fit best with your company’s culture and identity and don’t hesitate to hire and onboard new colleagues if your business requires additional support. It’s a challenge, but take it from us, it works.

Want to discuss this further? Let’s have a chat.