alphalist Blog

Onboarding a Remote Employee: From IT Provisioning to Company Culture


Remember your first day of work ever? You arrived at a company, excited to have your own desk -and look- someone actually thought about the laptop you would need for the first day. Then someone comes over to you and welcomes you, they will be your onboarding buddy who will explain how the company works.   Now, this all needs to be replicated in a remote setting.  In a recent CTO podcast, Dominik Angerer, co-founder and CEO at Storyblok shared how to onboard new remote employees.

Table of Contents
  • IT Provisioning
    • Why it's better to rent hardware for your remote employee
    • The unavoidable risk of employees disappearing with hardware
    • How to distribute the correct hardware worldwide
    • How we utilize co-working spaces
  • Cultural Onboarding Process
    • How onboarding works at Storyblok
    • What are good onboarding tools?

IT Provisioning

It is quite challenging to acquire decent-quality hardware and manage devices for your global workforce.  I highly recommend you rent hardware when provisioning for a global workforce.

Why it's better to rent hardware for your remote employee

  • Easier Repairs - If a device breaks, we can just issue a new one immediately and 24 hours to like 48 hours later, they have the new MacBook at the door and everything works again.

  • Simpler Off-boarding - The rental company will be able to retrieve the device when you need to offboard someone. When offboarding an employee with a rented device, you don’t need to deal with how to ship the device back or how to locate a local vendor to take it. You just notify the rental company to send someone to pick it up. 

  • Faster Onboarding -  If want to order a new device for a new employee, you first need to ship it to the company address for the purpose of your tax records, then ship it again to the employee.  It can get super expensive. When you rent, you still don’t get a tax write-off on the purchase but renting has other benefits. 

The unavoidable risk of employees disappearing with hardware

Even renting does not solve the problem of an employee disappearing without returning their work device. When an employee moved flats without telling us and didn’t show up to return the device once they were offboarded, we still had to pay off the device from the rental agency. Its just the risk of remote work. 

How to distribute the correct hardware worldwide

Distributing hardware at a decent level of quality to a worldwide workforce is hard. It was much more of a challenge back in 2020 when there was nothing available. Eventually, we settled on It's a platform that is more-or-less an e-commerce store that you, f as a company owner and or your recruiting team can set up with devices, chairs, tables, webcams, and all kinds of equipment you might need.   You can also ship bundles - like a bundle for the sales team which ensures that everyone on your sales team always has a MacBook and a proper webcam, proper microphone or headset etc. You can also give your team members credits where they can use to customize their setup. Some people want to have a magic mouse, other people want to have a normal mouse. Some people want to have two screens, some want one screen, etc. People’s preferences vary so it's great that you can give them credit to choose what they like and it gets delivered to their home immediately.  

How we utilize co-working spaces

Everybody that wants to use a co-working space  can use one. We usually partner with a global company called Regus. They have different setups you can use just a desk or a complete system. If an employee opts to use a co-working space, we will purchase or rent the equipment they would need (e.g. proper screen, proper chair, etc.) for that location. If an employee opts for a co-working space, we do not duplicate all the tech for a home setup. 

The Cultural Onboarding Process for a Remote Employee

Giving an employee proper onboarding that conveys the bigger picture is pure gold.  The more people understand about your product itself before they touch a code base, the better it will be in a month or two from now. So try to give them an insight into how things work inside the company, inside the product -  what the complete architecture of your product looks like. This way they know “if I touch this code here, this is not only isolated in this one area, it can completely destroy the whole infrastructure” or the other way around. 

How onboarding works at Storyblok

At Storyblok, we built this onboarding journey, which takes new employees four weeks to understand the product, the team, and the processes before they actually start working for real.   This onboarding flow is not just a mix of all kinds of videos, but also invitations to chat with our colleagues and leaders from various departments. It also contains information that will help employees understand the company culture and how to do mundane processes.  For example:

  • How you can spend company money (expense management0

  • How to set up PTO for yourself (many people don't know that you can actually take vacations)  We try to tell to do them how to do this thing early on. It is boring information buts it is information that allows people to feel comfortable. They also know how to find this information. 

I think even companies with offices should pay more attention to onboarding. 

What are good onboarding tools?

I have found that employees get a  better onboarding experience when they use specialized onboarding software and not just a Notion checklist or Asana board. At Storyblok, we use Savvy which allows us to set up a complete learning journey for each role/team. You therefore can use it onboard your sales team, marketing team, developer team, etc. The new employee starts with a guided journey with Savvy and a new journey opens up every 2 days. You can also do pre-onboarding.  We use an additional tool for onboarding our sales team called MindTickler.   The combination of these two is helpful, especially with cybersecurity awareness journeys.

Dominik Angerer

Dominik Angerer

CEO @ Storyblok

Dominik Angerer is CEO and co-founder of Headless CMS Storyblok. He is also a web performance specialist and perfectionist. After working for big agencies as a full stack developer he founded Storyblok in 2017. He is also an active contributor to the open-source community and one of the organizers of Stahlstadt.js.