Tips for successful virtual onboarding


Recruitment Advice, client

Virtual onboarding is becoming a regular practice due to the ongoing uncertainty and having to adapt to the coronavirus pandemic. These changing circumstances have forced us to look at how and where we work.

Onboarding remotely isn’t dissimilar to the old practices of your recruitment process but it now requires you to move your entire process virtually. These original practices of onboarding can easily be repurposed to give your new employee the best possible start, from integrating with the team to productive working.

We've got some advice and top tips for making virtual onboarding a successful experience for your new remote employees. 

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Transforming old processes for virtual onboarding

A successful remote onboarding process for your new employee won’t be too far from that ‘first day in the office’ experience we all know. The key is to take your top practices and convert them virtually, to make sure your new hires get the most out of it.

transforming old processes - virtual onboarding

This can be achieved a number of ways, but a few important ones to consider include;

Investing in tech

With your employee working remotely from home, they won’t have access to all the usual office technology. Make sure you provide them with a laptop, phone and all the tech they need before they start working so they can get set up.

When providing a list of colleagues and departments to your new employee, amend the list to include all methods of communication they might need. Email and messaging platforms such as Slack, telephone numbers and video software logins for Odro, Skype or Zoom.

Make time for breaks

When setting a schedule of work or training for the first week of your virtual onboarding process, make sure to include time for lunch and regular breaks to encourage them to take a rest and not feel overwhelmed. The first week at a new job can be a tough one and even more so at home/remotely, encouraging breaks can be helpful for productivity and wellbeing.  

You could suggest the Pomodoro method, where you set a timer for 25 minutes to focus on a designated task and take a 5-minute break to stretch, walk around, listen to a song, or enjoy the quietness. 

Virtual team lunch

The first team lunch is usually commonplace for new starters, but when remote and home working the next closest thing would be to schedule a team video call so they can get to know each other.

Structure and organisation

During the first week – the employee will be the most receptive, so their experience of the virtual onboarding process is vital to retaining quality new hires. Be sure to set clear, measurable and tangible targets not just for the first week, but the week and month. 

Remember virtual onboarding doesn’t just last a week, it’s an ongoing process of mentoring and coaching your new hire until they are a happy, informed and confident member of the team.

By giving your new hire a meaningful structure for the week that includes objectives and tasks, they will be able to maintain productivity as they try to find their feet in the new remote working situation. 

A structured induction process that incorporates virtual social and planned activities within the team will help to build effective working relationships with peers. 

Setting expectations

With any new starter, no matter their experience its always good to set good expectations of work. This can be achieved easily with virtual onboarding by setting schedules and helping to develop routines, something most of us are finding tricky working from home.

Top Tip: Arrange weekly catchups to check in with them. Make sure they know what is expected in terms of workload and ensure they are not falling victim to burnout, or the opposite, not doing enough work.

setting expectations

Encourage supportive team culture

It can be easy to create a supportive team environment in the office, but with all teams working remotely from home, this has become harder to achieve. Encourage regular virtual team meetings, and make sure the new employee attends, it will give them an idea of how the team works, how they interact and what a typical day looks like.

Top tip: Assign a mentor to the new employee, someone they can rely on for support, check in regularly and help with their development during the virtual onboarding process.

encourage supportive team culture

Encourage company-wide engagement.

Company-wide engagement is key during virtual onboarding, so make sure the new employee can engage with other team members at all levels, as this will help them to get a good picture of the business as a whole and boost their engagement within the company.

Building a strong approachable rapport with colleagues at all levels of seniority can benefit the business.

Top Tip:  Encourage transparency where everyone is open on what they are working on and to share honest feedback among their peers. Staff will be able to communicate effectively and will not be afraid of expressing new ideas and beneficial contributions to the company.  

company-wide engagement

Encourage virtual socialising

It can be hard to properly socialise as a team when working remotely, so make sure your new starter has an outlet to connect with the team, in your virtual onboarding activity include;

  • Mentor/buddy to check in with
  • Zoom tea breaks, weekly quizzes, wellbeing activity
  • Weekly / monthly company-wide ‘wrap-ups’ via video

Top Tip – Start virtual meetings with a social space before getting into the work aspect this can help the new employee and current, to feel more engaged and part of a team.

encourage virtual socialising

Unstructured interactions of a new employee's first week can also play a big part in building up their structure and confidence in a new work environment. – It’s the small social interactions (In the kitchen when making a hot drink) in the office that most people miss!

Good luck!

Everyone is experiencing changes to their recruitment and onboarding processes in these challenging times. However, if you have a structured activity that shows empathy and incorporates mental wellbeing for your employees new and existing, then you will have an effective virtual onboarding process.

Do you have any questions regarding successful virtual onboarding? Get in touch with us at
02089444180. You can also get your free copy of our successful virtual onboarding guide below.

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