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Posted by Aonghus Cody

Working Remotely, Onboarding & Overcoming Obstacles

25 Mar 2020

I guess here we are. Little did I know when I wrote about my “6 months in Recruitment” that my next piece would be written sitting at an old family computer desk from the mid to late 90’s where my mousepad has the Encarta 1995 logo on it. That being said the desk is now populated with a state-of-the-art laptop and 2 widescreen monitors so I won’t complain if the mousepad is old.

I don’t think there is a need for me to break down what’s changed in the last month. There is however a new dawn or a “new norm” upon us. With this, I set about collating my thoughts and some points on “Working Remotely, Onboarding and overcoming the obstacles related”.

As they say in the Sound of Music – let’s start at the very beginning…


Working Remotely

The time of the remote worker across the board has arrived. This is the time Steve Jobs et al have been waiting for. Since the mid 2000’s we have moved on from the webcam to a wide variety of iPhones/iPads with built in cameras. Yes, these are great outlets for FaceTiming your friends, parents and grandparents. Now, however this is a true asset to your career.

If you’re reading this, you are either on a smartphone or laptop (sadly were not sending our blogs to print, just yet!). The functionality for working remotely is available to you – camera and internet.

The next steps are setting yourself up for working from home efficiently. As someone who had previous experience of working remotely, I learned through trial and error how to construct a working day.

Some points on my tips for success/efficiency/sanity;


  • If you work in an office, you have a desk and more than likely monitors. The switch from the big screen or multiple screens to a smaller laptop or tablet is not easy and can impair efficiency and really frustrate.
  • Can you grab your existing monitors safely without putting yourself or others at risk? If not put the laptop up on some books – at a more favourable height for eye level and posture.
  • If you have a mouse or keyboard, they will greatly speed up your process.
  • Have you a work desk or an old desk in your remote location which could be cleaned up and used as a workstation? If so, use it – trust me it will help.


  • From my previous experience working in a location where you also choose to relax is not optimum for working remotely.
  • If you have capacity to keep the work separate from life outside of work you can at the very least know when you’re sitting at your work desk that you work and when you’re on the couch etc. you’re switched off.
  • Ultimately, you want an environment that is conducive for work.

Structure as normal

  • It might be self-explanatory for working remotely to be successful, it is crucial that people structure their working day as they would when based in the office.
  • This means getting up at the same time, eating at the same time, working at the same time.
  • By removing decision fatigue of when to get up or when to work you create good habits – Good working habits are important especially when working remotely.
  • We have a small and close-knit team in Darwin Hawkins, as such we make a point to not lose this as we work remote. With this we have at least one full team video call meeting a day in order to keep that sense of comradery as well as strategy. Part of the call is often a general chat as we would in the office. It’s good to have some normality in these times.

Breaks and balance

  • As alluded to previously it’s important to have a clear difference between work life and outside work life. This means taking breaks and balance.
  • I’m not going to tell anyone “how to live their best life” but I will say take a break, switch off, get some fresh air, whatever ones needs to decompress always helps when you get to the end of the working day.


Onboarding New Hires Remotely

One of the questions we’ve been getting from clients and candidates alike:

“How do we onboard x if we are working remotely?” or

Are companies going to hire if they’re working remotely?”

Maybe as accountants or finance professionals we were a tiny bit behind the curve on this. This will no longer be the case. It cannot be the case. Companies like their employees will adapt and will ultimately thrive with these new developments.

Let’s break it down further…


What does a new hire need to work?

  • Laptop
  • Mouse/keyboard
  • Access to systems
  • Work phone number

Of the above the laptop, mouse, keyboard can be sent directly to a new hire’s abode.

Access to systems will be granted through I.T support.

The work phone number can be installed on company systems using different software such as SiSQ, GoToConnect, Bitrix24 etc. This is different to the norm but not an insurmountable challenge.

Ok so the new hire in theory has all that they require to work for the company. But what about training them to get up to speed?


Training and Onboarding

This is where companies will need to dedicate timeslots to new staff or be prepared to do some virtual hand holding per se – no different to normal.

We are blessed to have the necessary technology for this to be done with ease.

Online lectures are a prime example of this where the technology enables remote learning. In business terms you can see this as one to one learning. Companies don’t tend to hire people with no inclination of how good they are. Yes, there are risks but they must trust that the hire is willing to learn and get to grips with the company.

The likes of Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype are available and allow people to interact as if they are in the room with the new hire.

This is also important for introducing a new hire to a team. Multiple team members can drop into a shared video call. Yes, it looks a bit like the opening credits from the Brady Bunch (google if unsure) but it is effective and efficient.


Planning for the new hire

A remote hire requires a plan no different to an in-office hire. It’s important for the hire to know where they sit in the organisation and to see a progression path within the company.

Plans can vary greatly as to the level of work the hire will take on. Generally, a one week, 30-day, 90-day plan will work effectively.

After 90 days the hire can look back to day one and see how they have developed. There’s no right or wrong way to plan but it will be easier to have one in place than chasing your tail for 3 months wondering what the hire is learning.

Ultimately, we will have no choice but to adapt to working remotely. This is out of our control.

Our choices as to how we go about this, are up to us.



  • Get a consistent set up in your remote location
  • Be prepared to onboard remotely
  • Plan for any new hires



  • Miss out on opportunities to move job for fear of working remotely
  • Be put off by talking to a screen or someone who’s looking at the screen – it’s a new world time to embrace
  • Forget to take breaks and get fresh air where safe to do so!!
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