Virtual Onboarding: 3 Success Components

Let’s assume: you’ve figured out how to manage your existing team remotely. Hopefully, you’ve even trained your HR team to hire employees through a series of online interviews. However, what happens after the contract is signed? How do you welcome your new employee into the team and ensure a smooth adjustment to its routines? Today we’re providing you with three main components of your new member’s successful onboarding along with some simple but useful tips that will help you along the way!

Organizational Acclimatization

The first step in the new person’s acclimatization to the company is to understand its structure. The main goal here is to avoid the new member feeling lost and not knowing who to reach out to. Of course, if the company is big, getting accustomed to the structure of one’s team is of immediate importance, while the rest of it can be left for later. This means understanding exactly who will be doing what in their team in addition to who can the employee contact for a specific question. However, the crucial part of remote onboarding is documentation: make sure your new employee always has a document to come back to in case they forget what you told them. A second main point is clarifying the daily routines and communication practices. Does your team prefer to discuss issues in zoom meetings or do you opt for asynchronous communication? Would you rather the employees wait until the meeting to ask each other questions or do it immediately on Slack? All of these questions are not difficult to answer if you simply observe how your team already operates but it could potentially help the new member immensely.

Technical Assistance

Technical assistance is incredibly important for remote teams because of both the pace and effectiveness of the whole workflow being dependant on technical performance. The goal here is not only to provide access to the tools but to make sure the new member learns how to use them effectively and with confidence. Going hand in hand with organizational acclimatization, technical assistance includes whatever communication, planning, reporting, and documentation tools your team uses. In the training process, it’s best to give hierarchical tasks by explaining what tools are more important to learn in the first week, and which can wait until the fourth. There is no need to overwhelm the newly arrived staff member by introducing them to a bunch of new systems without clarifying what part of those systems are actually used by the team daily and, thus, have to be understood first.

Social Support

Last but not least, successful remote onboarding cannot be achieved without positive human connection. It is normal to be nervous in a new setting; however, while in the office a certain level of personal communication could be almost guaranteed, this is not always the case remotely, and facilitating informal communication has to be intentional. This means as a manager you are responsible for allocating time to introduce the new person to the team and come up with an activity for them to get to know each other. Regularly check in on the employee so that they don’t feel isolated and lost in their onboarding process and assign a peer who is not in a management position. This could be helpful as it will reduce the formality of this communication. While it might not seem pressing in the moment, ensuring regular positive social interactions will go a long way in helping the new member to feel comfortable and welcomed. This, in turn, will eliminate some of the newcomer’s anxiety and ensure smooth workflow within the entire team.

Useful tips:

  1. Always reach out before the employee’s first day to welcome the employee and answer their questions.
  2. Do not overwhelm the new employee with all the information at once. Make sure to spread the information over weeks or even months, depending on the role.
  3. Prepare a comprehensive document that will simply explain the structure of the team and the organization and answer the plausible questions of the new employee.
  4. Build balanced communication. Instead of simply unloading the information on the new member, ask questions about their expectations, preferences, and experiences in your company so far.