Virtual Onboarding: It starts before it starts

Virtual Onboarding: It starts before it starts

Even when the COVID-19 lockdown is over and people can move around more freely, we know that for many organisations remote working and virtual onboarding will be even more commonplace than before.  

The ‘new norm’, as people are calling it, will mean less travel and more home working as standard. In fact, recently a Gartner CFO survey has revealed that 74% of CFOs and Finance leaders intend to move more of their previous on-site workforce to permanently work remotely once quarantine situations have been lifted.

Organisations are beginning to realise that you can hire talent from anywhere; geography is no longer an issue.

Want some help making your team the best remote workers? Check out our virtual workshop: How to Succeed as a Remote Worker.

But how does this impact onboarding?  The old idea of travelling to head office for a week or two is exactly that – old.  It’s no longer practical, logistically workable or something that people are willing to do.

Large companies are starting to catch on, with corporate giants like Hubspot and Microsoft now onboarding hundreds of new hires virtually. So how long before more companies do?

We will be sharing lots of tips over the coming weeks on how to do this, but let’s start at the very beginning.

It starts before it starts.  

How do you engage your new hires so they arrive at their virtual onboarding process excited, ready and with an open mind?  

Well, here are our top 5 tips for virtual onboarding: (in no particular order)

 Before we break them down, we thought you might like to know that we offer several management workshops, including How to Manage Virtual Teams.

‘Meet’ and greet

We recommend building in opportunities to gather and network in a virtual onboarding process, just like you would over coffee and lunch in a co-located onboarding event, and we recommend you make this  happen even before the events themselves. 

Whether you use Yammer, MS Teams, WhatsApp or another platform, it’s super important to have something in place.  Set this up prior to the actual virtual onboarding and encourage people to introduce themselves and connect etc.  

You can even upload pre-reading or pre-work while encouraging them to collaborate with one another.


Give them a warm welcome from their onboarding ‘mentor’

Ideally this will be a one-to-one call to meet up and begin to get to know each other and set expectations for the virtual onboarding process, answering any questions or concerns etc. 

You might choose a different name for an onboarding mentor (as this can sound a bit formal!) but ultimately it is the go-to person who will look after the new hire throughout the virtual onboarding process.  

New hires will come across lots of different people throughout their virtual onboarding process, but there is comfort in knowing they have this one person to go to for everything and anything. 

If your remote onboarding programme is too big to have one-to-one calls, then even a simple video hello can work, followed by some welcome sessions for scene setting and Q&A later.


Set the tone

Make sure everyone involved is with you on this.  It’s important not to apologise for not having a co-located event.  If people expect a second best experience from virtual onboarding then they are likely to experience it as such. 

Highlight the benefits of virtual onboarding; it is safer, more flexible, they will get to meet colleagues from different locations, and likely be working virtually anyway so be sure to demonstrate the power of this from the very beginning.


Welcome to the platform

Introduce your participants to the virtual platform and tech that you will be using for the remote onboarding. 

This could be done in different ways e.g. a live walkthrough, video tutorial, FAQs, how-to-guide, hands on practice.  A mini assignment getting them to research and figure out how to do certain things on the platform or even just a mini task that gets them using it in some way.  

This is not about them becoming experts, just familiarizing them so they are more comfortable when they begin to use it for real.


Map out their virtual onboarding journey so they know exactly what to expect

You want your new hires to be informed, but don’t spring this upon them on day one.  Let them see the route map of what’s coming; dates, times, virtual locations, speakers, events.  Make it easy to follow and clear. 

You want them to be looking forward to what’s coming.  Most people don’t want to turn up blind so help them out by clarifying all the whats, why’s, how’s and who’s of what to expect.

So there you have it. Our 5 virtual onboarding tips to help you successfully engage your new hires so they arrive at their virtual onboarding excited, ready and with an open mind.

Do you have any others? Do you think your company will start using virtual onboarding soon if they aren’t already?

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