Remote Onboarding Activities: 10 Ways to Engage New Hires

Key Points about remote onboarding:

  • Onboarding introduces new hires to your company and connects them with their coworkers. However, it may be more difficult to form these connections in a remote workplace.
  • Virtual onboarding activities can help you engage new hires no matter where they are.

As workplaces go remote, HR processes must adapt alongside them. However, some processes are harder to modify for remote work than others. Onboarding can be a challenge because it aims to welcome new hires and connect them to your company. If you haven’t actually met a new hire, creating this sense of belonging can be difficult.

Virtual onboarding activities can help your new hires feel comfortable and connected regardless of where they are. Try any of these 10 onboarding ideas to engage your new hires from the start.

1. Team lunch

In most companies, a new hire’s first day includes a lunch with their manager and team members. This practice is easily replicable in a remote setting. While not everyone is comfortable eating on camera, a group lunch gives your new hire a chance to interact with their team in a less formal setting.

As a treat, you might give everyone on the new hire’s team $10 or $15 for lunch that day. Or maybe you deliver food from the same restaurant to everyone so it feels like you’re “sharing” a meal.

2. Coffee or tea breaks

If lunch doesn’t work, try a coffee or tea break. For a half hour or so, everyone can grab their favorite beverage and chat with the new hire. 

If it’s within your budget, send an e-gift card for a cup of coffee to your new hire. This little gift, which can be as small as $5, can go a long way in showing your appreciation.

3. Games

Team games and some friendly competition can bring new hires out of their shells. There are dozens of virtual games you can play, from general trivia and pictionary to bingo. Mix and match the games you want to play and see which team comes out on top.

4. Scavenger hunt

To help new hires learn more about your company and their coworkers, send them on a virtual scavenger hunt. You might ask them to find information, like when your company was founded. Or you might ask them to find your company’s social media channels or a glowing review from a customer. 

You could also ask them to find coworkers with specific traits or experiences, like someone who’s worked at the company since the beginning, someone with an unusual pet, or someone who’s traveled to multiple countries.

5. Themed days

Remote work has relaxed many companies’ dress codes. You can lean into that trend and use it as a fun way to break the ice with new hires. You might have a pajama day, a silly hat day, or something else entirely. Themed days showcase your company’s culture and give everyone, including your new hire, a chance to show off their individual style.

6. Movie or book clubs

These days, people have turned to activities they can do from the comfort of their own homes. Reading and watching movies are activities that most people can enjoy safely. 

As a result, movie and book clubs can help your new hire get to know their coworkers and prompt interesting discussions. Try creating clubs by genre, like one book club for fiction and one for non-fiction.

7. Craft sessions

Whether it’s painting, knitting, or sketching, crafting is a popular hobby. Craft and chat sessions with other creative employees could be a great way to connect new hires to those with similar interests.

8. Virtual walks

Remote employees aren’t walking to the water cooler or getting up to talk to a coworker at another desk. This means that they may be sitting in the same place for hours on end.

Get your new hires up and moving with a virtual walk. They can do a lap or two around the neighborhood while video calling with another employee who is doing the same. If a walk isn’t feasible where they are, try sending them little reminders to get up from their desk to stretch every so often.

9. Breaks

Onboarding can be a draining process for new hires, especially remote ones. They’re adjusting to a new role and company while trying to learn names and so much more. Add screen fatigue on top of that, and new hires can quickly become exhausted. 

Scheduling breaks during your onboarding process can combat fatigue and give your new hires some breathing room. They’ll have time to get more water, go to the bathroom, or take a pet outside. When they come back to their meetings, they’ll be more engaged and ready to learn.

10. Continuous support

Onboarding activities are a fun way to engage new hires and connect them with your company. But they’re not a replacement for continual support. 

Remote employees are physically cut off from their team members. New hires may feel mentally or emotionally disconnected, too. Offering support, being available for questions, and casually checking in can help engage new hires through the onboarding process and beyond.

Remote Onboarding with an HRIS

An HRIS gives you the ability to manage all of your people management processes in one place, from recruiting and onboarding to payroll and benefits.

Start onboarding and managing your employees no matter where they are with SentricHR. Our all-in-one HR & Payroll software can help you track new hires through the onboarding process and so much more. With our partner Verified First, you can even conduct background checks without leaving our software. 

For more remote onboarding tips, check out our blog Virtual Employee Onboarding Programs: Common Mistakes to Avoid.


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