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Project Onboarding for Remote Employees: Guide

Updated on April 9, 2024By
Remote Project Onboarding

Imagine working on a project without knowing where to start, how to set deadlines, which tools to use, and which tasks to assign. You don’t need to be a wizard to see the disaster coming: The project will sink before it gets a chance to sail. How to avoid it? Have a project onboarding strategy in place.

Having a detailed project onboarding strategy is beneficial not only for your team but also for you. You can manage and track all the progress, communicate effectively, and keep your team updated about the client’s demands.

Without project onboarding, your foundation will be shaky which will risk finishing the project on time, going over budget, or diverting from the intended project scope.

What is project onboarding?

Project onboarding is the process of gathering the necessary resources and people to introduce a new project, and making sure the people involved meet the deadline, budget, and project goals. A successful project onboarding program ensures that the roadmap outlined for the entire team is understood, the roles are clear and reduces the possibility of project failure.

When project onboarding is remote, on the other hand, the process can get easily complicated and project managers, in particular, might struggle to assign tasks or introduce new tools. Therefore, it is important to streamline the remote onboarding process by including a series of onboarding tasks that the project team can easily handle.

3 Remote Project Onboarding Challenges

Sure, it would be great to distribute the necessary material for your project and watch your team complete every action without spending hours scheduling consecutive end-of-day sprint meetings or video calls. Unfortunately, the virtual world does not work like that.

Although virtual employees can be really productive and motivated to work on a project, missing project onboarding checklists or poorly designed project onboarding processes can lead to many problems for your remote team, eventually affecting the project’s success.

Here are a couple of issues you might encounter if you brush off project onboarding and inform remote employees about key projects.

1. Under-equipped Teams

You cannot establish effective onboarding experiences if you do not provide essential onboarding documents, use the proper communication tools to update the remote team, or introduce them to the fundamentals of the project. In case of an emergency, the team will feel lost and fail to take precautions to control mishaps along the way while the deadline approaches fast and steady.

This situation will not only stress your entire team but also cost you loads of time to detect and fix the mistakes, go over budget and mess with team members’ responsibilities—ultimately leading to inefficiency, decreasing employee engagement, and demotivation to finish the project.

2. Miscommunication

A detailed remote onboarding process predicts, even anticipates, remote work challenges & obstacles whether you tackle big or small projects. Most remote employees work on multiple projects at the same time, so it is only natural if some details get lost in translation. You may even consider bringing on freelancers, independent professionals, or part-time remote hires to assist full-time project team members.

Does this automatically simplify the entire process? 

Not really.

Working with other people who are not as familiar with your company culture and core values might add a few extra steps to your project onboarding, such as additional video conferencing on Zoom or Google Teams, extra emails and Slack channels, or result in communication challenges due to time, distance and so on.

Does this automatically ruin the project? 

Not at all.

You can save plenty of time and energy by integrating a comprehensive communication plan into your project onboarding strategy with clear instructions and definite channels. Hosting a kick-off meeting to illustrate the project’s goals and expectations in addition to remote employees’ responsibilities is a good way to personalize remote onboarding plans for your projects. Assigning an onboarding buddy is also helpful in creating a collaborative environment.

3. Unmet Expectations

What is obvious to you might be confusing to your virtual employees. Without a detailed list of process steps, it is hard to launch a successful project. The lack of in-person events and meetings can easily be replaced by a remote onboarding process that defines and communicates up-to-date information and answers employee questions regarding the project.

If you are working with a client, it is important to check on your remote employees on a regular basis to make sure everyone is on the same page and on track. Schedule a kick-off meeting to align yourself with the client’s demands and share feedback when needed.

However, you can easily overwhelm yourself with all these tasks. While a remote onboarding plan or a project onboarding template makes your job easier as a project manager, combining your efforts with project management software can simplify the process much more.

With Nifty, you can automate repetitive tasks, keep all employees in the loop, create a visual timeline for your projects and keep all the progress in one place. As one of the most effective product management tools, Nifty allows you to create a discussion board specific to a project where you can exchange ideas, celebrate project milestones, and more. In addition, you do not need to jump between video conferencing software or create a communication plan from scratch because most applications you love using are already integrated with Nifty, like Zoom.

Nifty for Remote Project Onboarding

Including a powerful tool like this in your remote onboarding plan helps your employees focus on the important work instead of getting lost in details and guarantees to complete the project within the designed time frame, budget, and scope.

Why do you need project onboarding software?

Getting remote teams onboarded onto key projects can be a challenging task. If you do not plan everything ahead of time, including a detailed list of process steps, decide on the messaging tools, video meetings’ schedules for feedback sessions, assign an onboarding buddy to new hires to navigate the details, and encourage employee recognition during the process, things can get tricky quite easily.

That is why a remote onboarding plan created with the right project onboarding software is vital for every project manager. You can step in and refine your remote employee onboarding template to match your team’s capabilities. In addition, project onboarding software helps you track project schedules and team availability so you don’t get overwhelmed and organize the onboarding documents much easier.

4 Tips for Remote Project Onboarding

The “new normal” has changed the business landscape, and project management is no exception. Company values are now shaped around including remote onboarding plans and a knowledge base. Careful planning, a detailed list of process steps, and open communication make all the difference in getting a remote team up to speed.

Additionally, utilizing a knowledge management platform such as Guru can enhance onboarding, providing your team with easy access to information.

Here’s how you can form a solid onboarding strategy for your team:

1. Prepare Onboarding Documents

Project planning is the first step before you dive deep into the action. Therefore, it is important to prepare the necessary documents to successfully onboard your team. Make sure to define the project’s goals prior to meetings. During the meeting, give context to ensure every team member gets into their role as smoothly as possible. The list can include:

  • Project briefs and notes
  • Weekly reports
  • Client or company values and priorities
  • Project budget and scope
  • Deadlines
  • Messaging tools, communication technology, and other resources

2. Set Up Roles and Expectations

Every team member has their strengths and weaknesses, and the remote employee onboarding process for your projects should include specific roles and responsibilities. Employee recognition is an integral part of remote work, so it is important to express your goals for the project as well as the check-in process, deadlines, the overall timeline, and a detailed list of tasks to avoid any conflict.

As a project manager, you are responsible for managing the relationship between your client and your team. While it is necessary to hit the goals you have set for the team, you must also take your employees’ job satisfaction into account and work on your remote employee onboarding template in a way that will give easy access to details and prove your trust in them.

3. Hold Onboarding Sessions

Project management tools and video conferencing software are the best friends of remote teams. Although written material and manuals are helpful, nothing compares to holding onboarding sessions or video meetings across multiple channels. In addition to giving a detailed list of tasks and expectations, you can interact with team members with virtual onboarding sessions on a regular basis.

You can even create no-code guides and tooltips for your employees, so they can go over the necessary information on their own time and evaluate the steps as well.


UserGuiding‘s simplified tooltips allow you to create an onboarding strategy for your remote employees, directing the entire project onboarding process based on your instructions and knowledge base. In addition, these interactive elements overcome communication challenges, especially if you are working with lots of people on multiple projects, by streamlining explanations and clarifying concepts for your team.

4. Create a Project Timeline

In-person events and meetings are not on the horizon yet. Besides, over 97% of workers confirmed that they would like to continue working remotely at least for some of the time for the rest of their careers, a Buffer study reveals. So it is only natural that the previous company culture depending on in-office activities has changed drastically.

Virtual project teams can get the messaging tools, video conferencing software, and other resources they need without struggling to manage all these tools and material thanks to remote onboarding that is updated and tweaked on a regular basis. To make things even simpler, you can create a project timeline.

Break tasks into smaller assignments and outlines to keep things manageable. A project timeline sets deadlines, defines a list of process steps, and sets the foundation for wrapping up everything successfully. Also, it makes tracking progress so much easier, so you can see an increased onboarding success rate.

Final Words

When it is time to prep your remote team for a project again, do not rush to finish your project onboarding. Applying these tips and focusing on common problems can improve your team’s performance and meet project goals successfully.

After completing the onboarding process, you will see that employees are moving faster through the engagement funnel because they know what is expected of them and how they can assist other members.

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