Steps to Effective Virtual Onboarding

Monday, November 30, 2020

1.Create an agenda for the first week

What would you like your new hire to learn and do during their first week? Come up with a schedule for their first week, making sure to build in breaks between video calls and enough check-ins and touchpoints so they don’t feel ignored or overlooked.

2. Email them a welcome message

Include relevant information they need to know before their first day, such as when to expect equipment, the agenda for their first day and week, and links to join initial video conferences. You may also want to provide early access to your employee intranet for your new employee to explore prior to day one. 

3. Deliver work equipment

Send new hires the tech equipment they need to be successful (e.g., laptop, mouse, keyboard, monitor, headset). If possible, download and install company-specific software and programs before sending any equipment to your new hire’s home address. Include initial IT setup instructions to help them get logged onto their computer and work email for the first time.

4. Send a welcome kit

Make your new employee feels valued, appreciated and part of the team by mailing them a welcome packet that includes your employee handbook, benefits information and company swag (e.g. notebook, pen & popsocket). You can also offer unique welcome gifts like a voucher for coffee or lunch delivery on their first day.

6. Assign a welcome buddy

Working remotely can be isolating, so consider assigning your new hire a go-to person who can meet with them regularly to guide them through the first few weeks or months on the job. A welcome buddy can also introduce your new hire to the right people and share information, tips and advice to help them settle in and be productive sooner.

7. Add them to all relevant communication channels

Because asynchronous and real-time online communication are both essential for a remote work environment, make sure your new hire is added to all the right calendar invites, pre-scheduled meetings, email groups and messaging apps so they don’t miss any important messages or updates.

8. Inform your current team of their arrival

Send a new employee announcement to inform your team of the new hire’s arrival. Make sure to CC the new employees so they can see any welcome messages their new teammates send. You can also announce their arrival in a channel on Microsoft teams or during team meetings to give them a warm welcome.

9. Get them online as soon as possible

Give your new hires a “tour” of your virtual workspace. Schedule a virtual orientation with a member of your IT team to get your new hire set up with their technology and software (e.g., login credentials, VPN, project management applications). Make this the first meeting of the new hire’s day — especially since their only connection with your team will be through technology.

10. Meet the team (no handshakes required)

Traditionally, a new employee is introduced to their coworkers and new team members on their first day. To do this virtually, set up a video introduction with the new hire’s team or department. Have current employees go around and briefly explain what they do, including a fun fact about themselves.

Help your new employee get to know the team in a more casual setting by scheduling virtual team lunches for the first week. You can also set up brief one-on-ones or small group video chats between the new hire and their coworkers to help them understand how they’ll be working together.

11. Hold company orientation

What do you want new hires to know about your company, team and culture? Develop a new hire orientation course that covers the following key company information:

  • Company history
  • Why you do what you do
  • Organisational structure
  • Mission & Values
  • Overview of the company’s products and/or services
  • HR policies/procedures

13. Go over role responsibilities and expectations

According to an Indeed survey², 44% of new hires who left within the first six months said receiving clear guidelines about what their responsibilities were could have helped them stay longer.

Set up virtual job shadowing or job training sessions to help new employees learn their new role, or to get a higher-level understanding of what other teams and departments do. Give them a specific number of tasks to complete over the days and weeks following their training, making sure to provide points of contact to set them up for success. Finally, work with them to create goals for their first 30, 60 and 90 days on the job.

14. Schedule frequent new employee 1:1s with manager

Keep one-on-ones between the new hire and their manager more frequent at first until they’re ramped up and more comfortable with their responsibilities. Take the time to learn about the new hire’s working style, preferences and quirks. This is also a great time to provide quick feedback on their first few work tasks to make sure they’re on the right track.

15. Build in spontaneity

Spontaneous interactions between coworkers can help new hires build connections with their team and gain a better understanding of the company culture. In an office setting, random conversations usually happen when grabbing coffee, waiting for a conference room to clear or when passing by a coworker’s desk. In a remote environment, these spur-of-the-moment interactions have to be more intentional.

16. Collect virtual onboarding feedback

Make your new hires feel valued and heard beyond their first day and week. Send a survey to collect feedback about your virtual onboarding process.