6 Ideas for Creating a Legendary Virtual Onboarding

‘’If you want to want to go back to the normal before covid let me hear you say ‘hell yeah’’

‘’Hell yeah’’

Gotcha. I hate to break it to you but, but there is a new normal now…

85% of marketers know that remote working will be the new normal from now on.

And a new work style means new ways to learn how to work…

As someone who landed a job during the pandemic, and as someone who has been onboarded online and has been working online ever since, I’m here to tell you all there is to know about virtual onboarding.

Let’s start with the basics:

What is Virtual Onboarding?

Virtual onboarding is onboarding your users, customers or employees 100% remotely. Instead of sitting in an office face to face and talking, you can communicate using video calls,  a variety of messaging channels, or joint calendars to keep the communication clear and working during Virtual Onboarding.

What is Virtual Onboarding?

Let me give you an example by telling you how my onboarding process was:

  • I was sent an email by my manager, telling me when the daily and weekly virtual meetings occur, and how I was supposed to join. We mostly used Google Meet.
  • I was asked to attend a short pre-meeting with the CEO to have someone else I know in the meetings.
  • Everyone had been remotely onboarded, so they seemed to know how confused I felt when my cat jumped on my laptop in the middle of the meeting, so they didn’t complain.
  • After the meetings, I received a checklist on tasks to complete withşn the first week, along with upcoming tasks. Every link was attached to the checklist, and for more complicated processes, there was a manual on how to do it.
  • I was given 2 week time to get used to the company and my role. I didn’t start writing until the middle of the second week, which made the process even easier to digest.

So yeah, it wasn’t a nightmare, and it wasn’t the easiest thing I’ve been through by far. But it was fun, and relieving to know that the people who were my team knew what I needed even before I did.

Which bring us to the next point:

Benefits of Virtual Onboarding

Even though parents with children found it difficult to adapt to the virtual work environment at the beginning, now that the offices are opening back again, no single person wants to let go of this system.

Why?

Because it has so many benefits that easily outweigh the disadvantages.

For instance,

  • Being able to have more space to work made people feel more positive about working in a virtual environment. Having the onboarding process virtual too will prepare them for the actual job that awaits them.
  • It makes you seem more reliable since you are following the trends and are open to change.
  • You make sure that every employee must learn how to use different tools by themselves and are eager to learn more about useful tips.
  • You will know if the employee is able to manage their time and space according to their responsibilities since that’s not easy to do from home.
  • Onboarding people virtually can save you a lot of money since there will be no need for extra papers, documents, office place, accommodation, etc.

How is Virtual Onboarding done?

If you are open to get help, virtual onboarding is as easy as onboarding someone face-to face.

If you aren’t sure about how you should onboard an employee, here is a guide, and a checklist.

  • Instead of greeting someone at the door, you greet them from your own seat, at your own comfort. Just be punctual.
  • You don’t give them a paper to-do list, rather, you send them an email, or create a Notion page for them to follow.
  • Instead of coffee and lunch breaks, you let them decide when and how they work, as long as they don’t disrupt the team’s workflow, and they aren’t late.
  • To keep everyone engaged and in sync, you can do virtual coffee meetings and do small talk, or you can come up with a virtual book club to meet once a week.
  • Instead of going by their desk and saying ‘’hi!’’, you can text them on Slack and ask if they need anything.

If you need a better idea of how you can make sure that you didn’t miss anything in your virtual onboarding program, I will list the most important steps for you:

How do I create a Virtual Onboarding Program?

Let’s make a quick list that consists of 6 items:

  1. Document the new person’s role and yours and make sure both parties have agreed on it before the onboarding process.
  2. Get the necessary accounts (email, slack, drive etc.) ready for the new person.
  3. Share your screen often during meetings and visualize everything that is spoken.
  4. Make sure to know the new person’s preferred communication type (calls, messaging, emails)
  5. Make sure to inform older employees that someone new is coming and what they do.
  6. Have a calendar where you can see their workload and they can follow tasks online. Adopt a tool that helps you do this, such as Clickup.

And for further detail, I have a remote onboarding guide here for you.

6 Ideas for a better Virtual Onboarding

6 Ideas for a better Virtual Onboarding

Apart from how much money and time virtual onboarding saves you, there is one more thing you should know.

It’s not the easiest thing that can happen to you. Or to the person who is being onboarded.

But there are simple tips that you can follow to make the most out of the process with minimum effort. 

Some of those are:

#1: Create a detailed onboarding checklist up ahead

Teachers tell students to have a timetable to predict the outcome of the exams,  gym coaches tell their gym rats to have workout schedules to predict the outcomes of their bodies.

And experts tell businesspeople to plan everything in advance so that you can predict the outcomes of a new attempt.

Make yourself an onboarding checklist:

  • What should you do?
  • What do you want the new people to do?
  • What courses do they need to learn and what articles do they need to read?
  • What tools will they need?
  • What IT equipment will they need?
  • What are the company’s values?

List these things out and don’t forget to add dates and hours to the necessary steps.

Now, both you and the new person will have an easier time accessing help and communicating.

You too should put yourself in the place of the new hire!

If you think that something might be missing in the checklist, ask yourself what difficulties you have faced while starting in the business or migrating to remote working.

#2: Give them longer time to onboard:

Virtual onboarding is slightly newer than regular onboarding. So I guess you won’t be surprised to hear that it will take a bit longer to onboard someone virtually.

Don’t worry, it’s not the most difficult thing compared to all the mess of regular onboarding.

Since the new person is not in direct contact with all the others, connecting and sharing might take longer.

So can getting accustomed to the company values too. There won’t be an employee next table that can teach the new person all the little things.

Give your new employee time to research and get used to working from home.

Give them a week without work where they can do all the research they should do.

Trust me, it will be an investment later on, not a waste of time.

#3: Adopt a virtual onboarding software:

Since everyone will be working separately, you won’t be able to stand next to them and show them how things work. So why not get help from an interactive guide?

Add walkthroughs to the specific tasks. Let the AI or virtual assistant do the teaching. You can use a tool like UserGuiding to create an interactive walkthrough in no time!

Use a collective calendar and task manager, such as Clickup, to see everyone’s progress and workload.

Use a virtual feedback collector that helps you collect answers easily, such as Feedier.

And of course, use a video conferencing tool to help everyone gather, analyze and talk together, such as Zoom or Google Meet.

#4: Don’t make all the calls about work:

Just like an office where everyone needs a break from work, when employees work remotely, they need to do things together except for working.

No matter how good you pay your employees, they will resign if they can’t connect with you on a personal and friendly basis. That’s why only 11% of employees seek good salary options while all others care about the working environment.

Don’t lose good people, just because you couldn’t onboard them good enough to make them adopt the company.

Try to catch the atmosphere of an office where you are able to blow some steam off with coffee or lunch breaks.

Get together more often with virtual happy hours, book clubs, or game nights.

You will also see that they will be more willing to work and cooperate in difficult situations.

Also:

#5: Ask, ask, and ask all the time:

The people you develop your career with will be far away from you when you work remotely. So not all of them will feel comfortable with calling you or emailing you when they have an issue in mind.

That’s where you come in to rescue with keeping constant communication to avoid any hardships in their onboarding process.

Welcome them nicely with a video meeting and do one-on-one meetings with your employees.

Tell them that this meeting won’t be to question their efficiency, but to help them have a better state of mind while working.

If they are comfortable with you, you might even ask how they are doing in their personal lives. Are there any accidents, are there any problems with their relatives or loved ones, is there anything wrong, making it difficult for them to work…

Let me share an example of how this will affect the people:

At the 6th month benchmark of me starting to work with UserGuiding, our CEO wanted to do a one-on-one meeting, just to chat a bit.

Not a long one. It took only 30 minutes.

When I felt comfortable enough, I told him that I might have ADHD and will work better

when I start my medication, he offered me to find a psychiatrist and off-days if I needed

them.

Back then, I was in a state of mind where I considered quitting because I didn’t want to damage their plans and strategies with me being in a bad state of mind, but his response made it crystal clear to me that I was at the right place to work.

Long story short, it’s the little things that bind a remote employee. Make sure that they know you recognize them and value their comfort.

Which includes our next point:

#6: Respect their working schedule

Working from home is different from working in an office, we learned that by far. Not everyone wakes up at 7 am nowadays to get ready for work that starts at 9 am.

Also, even though it’s not recommended, people do work in their sweatpants, and they are not ready for surprise calls at any second.

While it is a must to keep in touch with the employee almost all the time, try to do it in a way that you both are comfortable with.

Here are some statistics for you to have a better understanding:

Also, keep in mind that working remotely is not the same as being available 24/7.

Expecting people to get on the computer and do something quickly at midnight is the same as expecting them to drive to the office for a 5-minute small thing.

The same goes for you, let everyone know about your schedule and make sure that they respect it.

Final Words

Virtual onboarding doesn’t have to be a burden. If it’s difficult, it’s difficult for everyone.

There are ways to make it simpler, though.

And there are ways to minimize the difference from an office.

I hope that I was able to help you with virtual onboarding and onboarding people virtually.


Frequently Asked Questions:


How do you make virtual onboarding fun?

Virtual onboarding becomes fun when you know that you have the possibility to work from your couch while you still can enjoy a coffee break with your coworkers… This means, in order to create a good virtual onboarding experience, you need to incorporate the beloved aspects of an office and combine them with the freedom of working remotely.


How long does virtual onboarding take?

In terms of duration virtual onboarding might take a week longer or two from face-to-face onboarding. This is because being in a shared space where there are many people who can help right away makes it way easier to get used to the job and the company. On the other hand, while people need more time to be fully onboard virtually, the effectiveness doesn’t change.


Hilal Yıldırım

Hilal is the Creative Content Writer of UserGuiding, specializing in onboarding and growth. When she isn't writing, you probably can't find her: she could be anywhere, taking photographs on her motorbike.

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