Virtual Onboarding Tips

Nov 24 2023 | Perspectives
A man wearing headphones, facing a screen on a virtual call with new joiners who are being virtually onboarded.

In-person onboarding processes can be long and overwhelming, with challenges often arising. But now, an increase in working from home has necessitated virtual onboarding. This comes with its own hurdles, such as keeping up with ever-changing technologies and even busier schedules.

With 12.7% of full-time employees working from home, and 28.2% working with a hybrid model, adapting to virtual onboarding is now essential. You might be wondering, how do you virtually onboard new employees in a swift and productive way? We’ve put together some virtual onboarding tips to make the process a little smoother.

How to onboard a new employee virtually

Our 8 top virtual employee onboarding tips include:

  1. Preparation is key

  2. Structure their days

  3. Provide expertise

  4. Provide learning documents

  5. Facilitate early interactions

  6. Check-in regularly

  7. Pick a buddy

  8. Facilitate introductions with the wider team

Preparation is key

Prepare, prepare, prepare. Providing detailed guidance and step-by-step instructions for processes can make virtual onboarding far smoother, and much less overwhelming. Because it’s all virtual, new employees don’t have the luxury to simply ask a quick question at the desk or steal a spare 5 minutes for an explanation. So, make sure you over-prepare for new starters with guides and instructions that will have them up and running in no time. Ensure it’s ready for their first day, or even think about sending out important documents and guides before their start date so that they’re ready when they arrive.

Structure their days

Try to set up a clear structure in any new starters’ diaries with meetings, training sessions, and breaks. This gives them a simple agenda to follow and ensures you’re making the most of those first few weeks.

Provide expertise

When it comes to those training sessions you’re scheduling in, get your new starter speaking to the experts. Try to split sessions out between team members who know their stuff. That not only makes the process less busy and stressful for you, but it also means you’ll be giving the best introductions to processes or aspects of the job as possible.

Provide learning documents

We recommend creating a list of learning documents for whenever new employees don’t have meetings with HR, training sessions, or any other set up processes to complete. This way, they can sift through useful information and learning guides in their spare time to keep them busy and help them to develop their knowledge even further.

Facilitate early interactions

What’s really key is making sure new employees are added to team meetings early on (we recommend their first day!) to meet the wider team early. This way they’ll become more comfortable, familiar, and involved with colleagues from the start, something that otherwise might not happen when you’re working away from the office.

Check-in regularly

Make sure you add regular check-ins during the first few weeks to ensure they’re settling in okay, as well as giving them a space to share any concerns or ask any questions. We recommend perhaps even making these daily for the first week or two, and then getting a time scheduled every week moving forward.

Pick a buddy

Try a buddy system. What we mean by this is partnering any new employee with a colleague who isn’t their manager to help them feel comfortable and give them another outlet to go to for advice or questions. Make sure they are meeting with their buddy regularly, even just for 15 minutes for a virtual coffee catch-up.

Facilitate introductions with the wider team

To really ensure new starters are getting to know the company as a whole, and are getting familiarized with the company culture, try to allow for networking with the wider business. Ask them if they’re interested in any certain avenues of the business and try to set up coffee catchups to introduce them to other teams. Anything you can do to help them settle into the company is key when onboarding individuals virtually, because whilst in the office they are exposed to in-person office life, when sat at home it can be far more isolating and intimidating joining a new workplace on your own.

The pros & cons of virtual onboarding

Virtually onboarding new employees can have great benefits, but we also must be aware of some of the cons it can bring to try and negate these.

The pros of virtual onboarding

  • Flexibility: Virtual onboarding lends itself to flexible working, allowing individuals to be able to work from anywhere, especially now hybrid and remote working is such a popular option.

  • Reduced costs: It’s cheaper for your business, facilitated by technology.

  • Greater productivity: With a structured schedule, easy-to-use guides and documents that are pre-prepared, and less ‘faff’ in general, virtually on-boarding can lead to greater productivity.

The cons of virtual onboarding

  • Can be overwhelming and unclear: which is why you should take all the necessary steps to avoid this.

  • Reduced accessibility: With virtual onboarding, individuals can’t just walk over to someone’s desk to ask a question, meaning accessibility is a little harder. Instead, calls need to be set up which takes more time out of people’s day.

  • Technical difficulties: With anything digital or virtual, there’s always the chance that you’ll have technical difficulties, which can make the onboarding process far less smooth.

Looking to better your onboarding processes, but not really sure where to start? When going through times of change at your company, no matter how small (even if that’s transforming simple processes a little), it’s always good to speak to the experts who can guide you through change to make it a little easier.

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