A Practical Guide for Onboarding Remote Employees

a practical guide for onboarding remote employees
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Remote work used to be limited to a few very specific niches. However, due to the combined forces of the pandemic and the digital-first transformation, remote work is now an option in almost every industry. A study of remote workers found that, on average, they're more productive, work longer, and are less distracted than their in-office counterparts.

Given all of the upsides to working remotely, this trend will only continue to grow in the coming years. In fact, a Gartner survey found that 82% of company leaders plan to offer employees remote working opportunities in the near future. However, remote onboarding can be a significant hurdle for companies looking to expand their remote workforce.

Benefits of Hiring Remote Teams

The latest jobs report indicates that there are almost twice as many job openings as there are people looking for jobs. In tech industries, the situation is even more dire, with the tech talent shortage expected to reach 85 million unfilled positions by 2030. These issues are affecting all industries, and more companies than ever are hiring remote talent from other countries to fill their open roles.

There are many benefits to onboarding remote workers, both domestically and internationally, including:

Larger Talent Pool

When you're hiring locally, you're limited to employees who are already in your geographic location or are willing to relocate. When you expand the boundaries of your applicant pool, you'll have a much larger market of potential employees from which to choose. This broader market is especially useful if you're trying to hire employees with specialized skills that are hard to find in your local area.

Cost Savings

It's often cheaper to hire from other countries because the cost of living is lower. You may be able to hire software developers, for instance, for half the cost of hiring them locally. When you're combining on-site and remote teams or hiring remote teams in multiple countries, it's a good idea to decide on a compensation policy ahead of time and be transparent about it.

Some companies pay the same for the same role, regardless of where employees are located. Others adjust the pay based on the cost of living in the country where the employee is located. Either can be ethical, but transparency about your pay policy is vital to avoid resentment and bad feelings that can corrupt your teams.

Another way hiring remote workers saves you money is through reduced costs associated with providing on-site offices. You won't have to buy or rent as much office space or pay the associated utilities.

Employee Satisfaction

As the Great Resignation has shown, employees are highly concerned with achieving a healthy work/life balance. One of the biggest reasons people cite for leaving their jobs is a lack of flexibility. Setting up a remote working environment increases employees' satisfaction by providing them with the flexibility they need to balance family life, leisure time, and work.

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Challenges to Remote Onboarding

Despite its benefits to both employees and employers, there are challenges to hiring and onboarding remote teams, particularly if you're expanding your company internationally. Laws vary by country, and the penalties for violating labor laws can be hefty. Some of the most common challenges that businesses face when remote onboarding are:

Compliance With Local Guidelines

When you're hiring internationally, you'll need to know all of the local labor and tax laws. Each locality has its own tax structure and laws regarding worker compensation. Many countries require you to either set up a local entity or use an employer of record such as Skuad. Setting up your own entity in every country into which you want to expand can be prohibitively expensive.

Working with Skuad can help you stay in compliance with local laws to avoid any possible penalties and eliminate the expense of setting up your own corporate entity. Get in touch to request a demo of our platform.

Payroll Management

Keeping track of the withholding and other payroll requirements for multiple countries can be a nightmare. Outsourcing payroll and HR can greatly simplify the process of remote onboarding and save your in-house team a tremendous amount of work.

Misclassifying Employees as Independent Contractors

The reporting, payment, and benefit requirements for employees are much more onerous than those for independent contractors in most countries. It can be tempting to hire independent contractors instead of employees. However, if the role you need to hire for is an employee role, you can face severe penalties and fines for claiming a worker is an independent contractor rather than an employee.

Many countries define whether a worker is an independent contractor or an employee based on how they do their job. Although the specifics vary by country, some factors that are considered include:

  • How much independence the worker has to do their job
  • How the worker is paid
  • Who provides the tools for the worker to do their job
  • If there are written employment contracts

Protecting Intellectual Property Rights and Data Security

Intellectual property rights can get complicated when you're crossing international borders. You don't have the protection inherent in a closed office space where you provide all of the space and equipment to do the work. You're also dealing with unfamiliar laws that may differ from your local laws. Working with a team of experts like those at Skuad will help ensure you've protected all of your rights regardless of where your team is located.

Steps To Successfully Onboard Remote Employees

While there are definitely obstacles to face when you're onboarding remotely, the benefits are usually worth the risks. Onboarding is far more than getting your new hires set up for payroll. It's an ongoing process that familiarizes your new talent with the structure and culture of your organization so they can perform at their best. Here are some steps you can take to set your remote teams up for success:

Communicate Clearly

Once you've gone through the time-consuming and expensive process of hiring a new employee, you don't want to get bogged down in the remote onboarding process. Clearly communicate each step of the process to your new hire so they know exactly what's expected of them at each stage of the process. This is the best time to set working norms, so everyone is on the same page.

As part of your comprehensive onboarding process, make sure to include copies of employment contracts if you're using them. Even if you aren't using formal employment contracts, you should include information about working hours, vacation, benefits, pay, and other compensation. This is particularly important if your compensation structure will vary based on where your remote workers live.

Take Advantage of Technology

When your team is distributed around the world, it can be hard to form a cohesive unit. However, there are many tech solutions that make communication among distributed teams effortless. Decide on the solutions that work best for your company and set all of your workers up with them. Facilitating smooth asynchronous communication is a top priority for teams that aren't in the same timezone and can't communicate in real-time.

Schedule Personal Check-ins

Making personal contact with members of your team is essential to building a team atmosphere. In addition to ensuring teams can communicate among themselves, plan for managers to regularly touch base with each of their direct reports.

Considerations To Keep in Mind

The best way to avoid the pitfalls of remote onboarding is to have a comprehensive plan in place that covers all possible extenuating circumstances and limits your exposure to issues such as:

Compliance Violations

Many factors have to be considered throughout an employee's tenure with your company, not just at hiring. Some companies have specific regulations that cover the circumstances under which employees can be terminated. You'll need to make sure you're complying will all aspects of labor laws in every country where you have remote employees.

Tax Laws

Tax laws vary considerably by country. When you're employing internationally, you have to follow the tax code of your home country as well as that of the countries where your workers are based.


Handling payroll for employees in different countries can be overwhelming for your in-house HR team. Multiple different withholding and reporting guidelines can confuse even the most meticulous systems. Working with a global HR partner can eliminate this hassle.

Conclusion and Next Steps for Successful Remote Teams

Hiring a global workforce provides an undeniable competitive advantage to your business. Although the challenges are significant, the benefits are worth it. Working with a remote onboarding partner such as Skuad can help you expand your team internationally while avoiding the possible liabilities and expenses associated with noncompliance.

Our employment and tax law experts will ensure you're always in compliance, and our HR professionals make it easy to pay your distributed team. You can focus on growing your business while we handle all of the time-consuming administrative tasks such as payroll, taxation, and compliance on our all-in-one platform. Reach out today for a demo and find out how we can help your company reach its strategic hiring goals.

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