Onboarding Documents Checklist: Essential Paperwork for Hiring Virtual Employees

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A job applicant handing over her virtual assistant resume cover letter.

If you don’t yet use any onboarding documents after hiring virtual assistants, this post is a good place to start. This checklist will give you a good idea of all the paperwork you need to prepare. Remote onboarding is essential to get new hires off on the right foot so they can hit the ground running.

Understanding Onboarding Documents for Virtual Hires

Onboarding documents are a crucial part of integrating new virtual hires into your company. They provide hires with essential information about your company. For example:

  1. Company culture documents help virtual hires understand your values, communication styles, and work environment.
  2. Work process documents provide a roadmap for completing tasks, using specific tools, and following established procedures.
  3. Expectations put everyone on the same page with regard to work quality, communication frequency, and deadlines.

These documents facilitate smooth integration once you make a hire. A clear understanding of the role and the work environment help hires become productive members of the team faster.

Legal Considerations and Compliance

A lady with a gavel on her desk writing on paper.

Standard Compliance

Onboarding documents shouldn’t contain discriminatory language. They should also not request information that could be used for discriminatory purposes, like citizenship status, unless required by law.

Make sure that you comply with all data privacy regulations that apply for you and the hire. This includes getting consent to collect and store their data and having clear policies on data retention and security.

Specific Documents and Agreements

Clearly define the working relationship in the documents. Onboarding for independent contractors might not include benefits information typically provided for employees, for instance.

Confidentiality agreements are crucial for protecting sensitive company information. Ensure your NDA complies with local regulations to ensure that it holds up in court.

Regulations regarding background checks can vary by location. Make sure you have the virtual hire’s consent and also comply with any local laws around these checks.

Regularly review and update all the documents to reflect any changes in company policies or local regulations. Have virtual hires electronically sign or acknowledge receipt of all these changes.

Location-Specific Considerations

You might be hiring from different countries with varying employment laws. Review your documents to ensure compliance with all applicable local regulations. For example, look into laws around work hours, minimum wage, and vacation time, and other benefits.

You might also need to withhold taxes differently for virtual hires in different locations. Consult a tax professional to ensure compliance.

Successful Virtual Team Integration

A man and a woman doing an individual, personal check-in before their team virtual meetings.

Onboarding documents play a vital role in successfully integrating virtual team members. 

Bridging the Physical Gap

Without face-to-face interaction, virtual hires can miss certain details. Proper onboarding ensures that they have the same level of understanding about the company, culture, and processes as in-person hires.

Documents provide a consistent foundation of knowledge for all virtual team members, too, regardless of their onboarding timeframe.

Facilitating Team Cohesion

By emphasizing company culture and values, you can help virtual hires feel included and connected to the team.

Clear documentation facilitates a shared understanding of company goals, project objectives, and individual roles within the virtual team.

Documents can outline preferred communication tools and etiquette, fostering smoother collaboration and reducing miscommunication, too.

Boosting Individual Performance

A roadmap for tasks, tools, and expectations helps virtual hires become productive team members quicker. 

Clear instructions and resources also empower them to find answers independently, minimizing the need to interrupt you and their teammates.

Comprehensive Checklist of Onboarding Documents

A person writing on paper.

1. Legal Documents

Contractual agreements are legally enforceable agreements entered into by two or more parties. They must willingly agree to the terms and conditions outlined in the contract. 

An employment contract, for example, defines what duties, compensation, benefits, and termination clauses the parties agree to. Other examples are sales contracts and lease agreements. 

Intellectual property agreements are legal contracts that address the ownership, use, and disclosure of intellectual property. They protect creations like inventions, art, and confidential information.

Examples include patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets.

Non-disclosure agreements, sometimes called confidentiality agreements, are legally binding contracts. They establish a relationship that protects sensitive, non-public information shared between parties.

Examples include what the receiving party can and cannot do with formulas, customer lists, marketing strategies, and ghost writer identities.

2. Tax Forms

The specific tax forms you need for virtual hires depend mainly on location and employment classification. 

For example, an employer in the US hiring an independent contractor usually won’t need to file a 1099-MISC. However, the virtual assistant should complete a Form W-8BEN to declare their foreign status. This can be helpful for record-keeping and potential audits.

Remind virtual hires that they are responsible for filing their own tax returns in their home country.

3. Company Policies and Handbook

Make sure that you provide each hire with copies of your company’s code of conduct, privacy policies, and handbook. Have them sign an acknowledgment form, too. This form should state that they: 

  • have read and understood all the contents of these materials, and 
  • agree to abide by all the rules and regulations described. 

How to Organize and Manage Onboarding Documents for Virtual Teams

Color-coded file folders organized neatly on shelves.

We are big fans of digital systems because they offer additional functionality and ease. 

For example, digital document storage allows you to access search functions. This makes it easy for everyone to quickly find specific information within documents.

Digital onboarding also allows you to seamlessly incorporate visuals like infographics and short videos into your onboarding materials. This enhances both understanding and engagement.

Developing a Centralized System

Digital organization offers centralized storage that makes it easier for everyone to access the materials. It also helps you manage different versions, which makes it easier to keep all the documents updated.

Create a well-organized folder structure to categorize the documents. We suggest filing them by department and type of hire, or document type. This can be contracts, benefits information, and security protocols. 

Whichever categorization system you choose, always use clear naming conventions, and use them consistently. Include details, too, that help identify and differentiate the files. This keeps confusion at bay. 

Streamlining the Onboarding Process

Prepare a digital welcome kit that contains the essential documents, like the handbook, policies, and contact information for key personnel. 

Consider creating a flow for the onboarding documents or using an actual onboarding management platform. This one-stop shop can help new hires access what they need, when they need it. 

Explore onboarding tools to streamline the process. Workflow automation, for example, can help you with document requests and reminders for completing specific steps in the onboarding process.

Maintaining and Updating Documents

Regularly review your onboarding materials and process to ensure they reflect the current company policies, tools, regulations, etc.

Encourage new hires to provide feedback on the onboarding process at every stage. Ask them to expound on the clarity and usefulness of the documents. This helps you continually improve the onboarding experience and its effectiveness.

Develop templates for the commonly used documents, such as checklists and offer letters. This helps you save time while ensuring consistency and efficiency. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Large piles of documents on a table.

Can I use the same documents for freelance and full-time virtual hires?

You can keep the same core structure for freelance and full-time virtual hires, but some sections need to be tweaked.

You can have the same overview of your company culture, mission, values, and team structure. The communication guidelines and collaboration tools you use are relevant for both. Your policies for data security, password management, and acceptable use of company technology likewise apply.

Freelance Hires

We recommend an independent contractor agreement outlining the scope of work, project timeline, payment terms, and termination clauses. Clearly define project deliverables, deadlines, communication frequency, and revision processes specific to the contracted work.

Full-Time Hires

You should have an employment contract specifying job duties, compensation, probation period, and termination procedures. Specify your company’s benefit packages, such as health insurance and paid time off. 

Define as well how income taxes and social security contributions will be withheld from their paycheck. Outline general job responsibilities, performance expectations, performance reviews, and typical work hours.

What’s the best way to securely store sensitive onboarding materials for virtual hires?

Cloud-based document management systems (DMS) offer secure, centralized storage for all your documents. With granular access controls, you can easily grant different levels of access to authorized personnel from anywhere.

Many DMS also provide audit trails so you can track document access and activity. This helps maintain accountability and identify any potential security breaches. Look for DMS solutions that use data encryption both at rest and in transit. 

Examples of DMS are Google Drive, Dropbox Business, Microsoft OneDrive for Business, and Zoho WorkDrive.

Make sure that you also require two-factor authentication (2FA) for all user accounts. Maintain regular backups, too, for easy data recovery in case of system failures or cyberattacks.


What Is Outsource School?

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Outsource School helps you to unlock the potential of virtual assistants and accelerate your business growth.

This is the exact system Outsource School’s founders, Nathan Hirsch and Connor Gillivan, used to go from zero to 8 figures and 40+ virtual assistants with an exit in 2019.

Since being founded in 2020, Outsource School has helped 1,000+ business owners hire 2,000+ virtual assistants for their companies.

Schedule a free sales call to learn more

Free resources you might like: 


Clear onboarding documents and proper procedures for issuing them and enforcing them set everyone up for success. Both your company and the people you hire get the protection they need, too. With all of those concerns out of the way, everyone can focus on enjoying the work and staying productive.

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