The world’s largest work from home experiment activated at the onset of COVID-19. The pandemic continues to send shockwaves throughout the world, as businesses large and small implement social distancing to help slow the spread of the virus. While some companies were prepared for the change, there are many that are faced with managing a remote team for the first time while ensuring business continuity.

This scenario has also played out as a crash course on how to lead teams remotely. For others, it was a lesson on how to bring on new employees virtually.

Onboarding is a vulnerable but critical time for businesses and, when poorly executed, leads to a loss productivity, creating a negative impact on the bottom line. When well-executed, research shows, employee onboarding can improve retention by 82%.

Whether you’re onboarding remotely or in person, your organization must have the right mentality, processes, tools and resources in place, so new hires feel comfortable with their team and their ability to perform their role. Despite our unprecedented times, there are ways you can onboard employees effectively so they will be successful.

Create an Atmosphere of Comfortability

On an employee’s first day, companies tend to ruin the opportunity to connect personally and emotionally. Instead of genuine connection, leaders inundate the employee with new information, which can make the employee feel overwhelmed. New hires intentionally and unintentionally soak up the personality, culture and psychology of your business and align this experience with your company’s goals and their job expectations.

When onboarding employees virtually, create connections early and often by allowing new hires to virtually connect with their direct supervisors, their team members and other leaders. This interaction fosters alignment among company goals, job expectations and the new “insider” knowledge gained through those personal interactions.

Establish Constant Communication and Set Clear Expectations

In a remote setting, it’s even more important to keep lines of communication open and frequent. Often, leaders who are reluctant to implement a work-from-home policy are wary of the inability to manage productivity and monitor real-time activity. Constant communication can ease this fear, including in the case of onboarding.

Provide new employees with a detailed schedule for the first 90 days. This schedule will help ensure that they complete training, receive answers to their questions and progress at a pace that works for them, their team and the clients their team serves. An hour-by-hour breakdown of what they will learn in their first few weeks and an overview of how up to speed they should be after the first 90 days is critical.

To create clear expectations at a more granular level, a detailed and well-implemented “30-60-90-day plan” can be a game-changer. A day-by-day breakdown of what new employees will learn in their first few weeks enables both the managers and their new direct reports to review any barriers, questions or successes in the early days of their role.

Provide the Appropriate Tools and Resources

You’re only as good as the tools you use. Whether remote or in person, new or tenured, employees need the right tools and resources to do their job well. From communication to productivity, technology is integral to productivity and success. For remote onboarding to be effective, workers must be equipped with — and trained on — the technologies and software that will help them perform at their greatest potential.

The saying “first impressions count” should be a guiding principle for organizations to ensure they have a sound onboarding process in place. Detail and intention will separate a great program from a sub-par one, and the way you onboard employees will determine how confident and assured they are as they begin their career at your organization.