Virtual Onboarding: 8 Steps to Success

Onboarding new employees, virtually - Weekdone Blog

Before March 2020, a mere 3.1 percent of businesses were hiring remotely and using virtual onboarding. Since then, the number has risen by 15 percent, and it will likely continue to increase in 2022.

Onboarding is challenging enough when you’re working with people in person. When you switch to a virtual process, though, it becomes even trickier. If you’re struggling with virtual onboarding, read on for some useful tips that will set your new hires up for success and help them feel part of the team right away.

Onboarding in Co-Located Teams vs. Virtual Teams 

Both co-located teams and virtual teams face obstacles when it comes to figuring out how to onboard new employees. Some of these obstacles are the same regardless of the employee’s location, whereas others are unique to each type of team.

The following are some of the most noteworthy similarities and differences between onboarding in co-located teams and virtual teams:

Similarities

Goals for both team types

  • Get new hires familiar with the company, its mission, and it's values.
  • Connect new hires with their bosses, supervisors, and colleagues.
  • Provide new hires with the tools and training they need to do their jobs effectively.
  • Set clear expectations and define new employees roles; help them understand reporting methods.

Differences

Challenges for virtual teams

  • Timeline: Don't speed through the virtual onboarding process. Remote employees need extra attention
  • Cultural Onboarding: Don't gloss over important company culture aspects! This prevents new hires from fully understanding the kind of team they’re joining.
  • Human Connection: Schedule opportunities for group discussions and team building! Remote teams often struggle finding time for this, even after the onboarding process!

Best Practices for Virtual Onboarding

Virtual team leaders can (and should) utilize different strategies for onboarding new hires compared to co-located team leaders. The following are 8 remote onboarding best practices that will help you simplify the process:

1. Start early

The sooner you start onboarding new team members, the better. Instead of rushing through onboarding and bombarding new hires with information on their first day, reach out to them in advance.

Email them important documents to virtually sign and return so they can hit the ground running right away. You can also send them a welcome package with the company handbook and some fun swag.

2. Create and share an agenda

In your welcome package or welcome email, you should also send over an onboarding agenda. The agenda will outline each new hire’s schedule for their first couple of weeks on the job and show them what they can expect when they join your team.

When new hires receive an agenda, it can reduce their nerves and help them feel more confident. It can also provide an introduction to your company culture and give them a preview of how you run your team. 

3. Start with easy tasks

Give new hires some easy wins right from the start. They might be anxious about joining a new company — not to mention working remotely — and completing easy tasks helps to ease anxiety and build confidence.

Examples of easy tasks include filling out HR paperwork, setting up their work email account, or watching a short introductory video.

4. Arrange group and 1:1 meetings

Be sure to include a few virtual team and 1:1 meetings in your onboarding process.

Virtual group meetings are great for introducing new hires to the team and helping them put faces to names. 

1:1 meetings, on the other hand, are better for addressing specific questions and concerns. They’re less intimidating and help you build a strong relationship with new team members right away.

5. Assign a mentor

Mentorship is an important aspect of onboarding for both co-located teams and virtual teams. It’s particularly helpful for virtual teams and remote employees, though, who often struggle to feel connected when they join a new company.

Assigning a mentor provides remote employees with a go-to person who can answer questions, address concerns, and provide feedback. This also gives each new hire an automatic “friend” so they feel part of the team right away.  Peer-to peer learning should be encouraged in the workplace, regardless of where employees are located!

6. Focus on company culture

Introducing company culture is one of the hardest parts of virtual onboarding. To overcome this issue, make sure you include materials that discuss the company’s culture, mission, and values. Be sure to touch on employee resources and unique company benefits, too.    

7. Vary content format

At this point in the remote work revolution, everyone is pretty tired of Zoom calls.

They have their benefits, of course, so you don’t need to eliminate them from the agenda altogether. However, it’s also important to identify other ways to deliver information (written documents, pre-recorded videos, phone calls, etc.).

Varying your content format helps to keep new hires engaged and ensures they don’t suffer Zoom fatigue during their first week on the job.

8. Check-in regularly

Whether it’s through an email, 1:1 chat discussion, or video call – be sure to check in regularly with your new hires.

Frequent virtual team communication is essential for new employees. It helps them feel connected, minimizes confusion, and helps them settle into their roles faster.

Weekly check-ins provide you with a chance to solicit feedback, too. Then, you can find out what you can improve when onboarding new team members in the future.

Use Weekdone Team Compass to Keep Everyone Connected

One of the best things you can do to make remote onboarding easier is to invest in an all-in-one reporting tool. A remote team management and reporting tool like Weekdone Team Compass will reduce the challenges of virtual onboarding and help new hires get set up and comfortable from day one.

Here are some of the most noteworthy features of the software that separates it from other tools:

  • Weekly check-ins to find out how new team members are doing
  • 1:1 chat feature to touch base in a more personal way
  • Feedback and recognition to give kudos and shout-out new hires
  • Reporting and visualization to easily monitor team and individual progress

These features will benefit your team in the long run. It will help them grow together, collaborate more effectively, as well as create a more seamless connection between managers and employees.

Improve Your Virtual Onboarding Strategy Today

If virtual onboarding has been stressing you out, you’ve now got the tips and tools you need for a better experience (for you and your new hires). Onboarding remote employees presents unique challenges, but with the right strategy, you can easily overcome them. Here's a quick summary:

  1. Start early
  2. Create an agenda
  3. Start with simple tasks
  4. Plan group and 1:1 meetings
  5. Assign mentors to new hires
  6. Emphasize company culture
  7. Vary instructional content types
  8. Check-in regularly

If you’re ready to level up your remote onboarding process, give Weekdone Team Compass a try today.