Virtual Onboarding

How to effectively and efficiently onboard a new employee virtually.

Meet Johnny Okito, Senior Software Developer; Fortunate Douglas, Client Experience Coordinator; and Darren Singh, Junior Software Developer. 

Did you know Vivo Team has 10 years of experience as a coast-to-coast, remote-first team? Even though we hire, onboard, train, and develop everyone virtually, several of our team members say that they’ve never felt more connected to their coworkers in spite of never being in the same room.

So, what is the secret sauce? We walk the walk, using the tools and processes that we teach daily in order to set up our new hires for success. Your team can easily onboard new team members virtually if the processes are clear and the tools are effective.

“Consider the efficiencies of the new digital tools and processes you implemented over the past two years. You want to keep those—they’re transferable! There’s no need to go back to the way you did it before if it works better.” – Renée Safrata, CEO and Founder, Vivo Team

The most important element isn’t the tools, but getting alignment and agreement on the norms of engagement, so people know what behaviors will set them and their team up for success. Here are some items to consider and evaluate:

1. Planning – Structures & Communication

Build a 4-6 week onboarding plan for every new hire which includes a checklist of tasks and a schedule of what they can expect.

2. Transparency – Accountability & Communication
Increasing digital visibility among your team boosts productivity and reduces stress. It’s not fun to have to track people down or to be tracked down. With a bit of structure and accountability to digital transparency, your new employees will thrive.

At Vivo Team, we have access to everyone’s calendars, and everyone does a daily check-in on our internal communication platform (we use Slack). This makes planning meeting times a breeze because you already know who’s available when. Also, by checking in each day, you won’t have to spend time and energy wondering where people are or what they’re working on.

3. Norms – Structures
Just because it’s obvious to you doesn’t mean it is to everyone! By agreeing to a set of behavioral norms, teams increase productivity and engagement significantly.

Clearly outline the types of behaviors that are expected of new employees. Do you have email norms? Meeting norms? A particular way files are stored and shared? Make sure these things are clearly laid out and that everyone understands and is aligned.

4. Create Connection – Emotional Intelligence & Cohesion
Being in the same building doesn’t ensure employee connection; the key is really about developing a thriving company culture.

During onboarding, we ensure that every member of the team books our new team member for a casual get-to-know-you chat. They also get invited to participate in internal weekly training sessions on our core teachings to build their knowledge and connections.

We have tools and techniques embedded at the start (check-ins) and end (appreciation, difficulty, final statement) of every meeting to help build connection and increase interactive feedback.

5. Beyond Onboarding
Here are some workplace activity ideas that promote connection and can be easily conducted in a virtual environment:

  • Share and celebrate wins, often—even the small stuff! Try a D.O.S.E.—the 12-minute weekly meeting that saves time while increasing connection and productivity.
  • Plan weekly development meetups to stir the creativity and collaboration juices, where smaller groups work on learning something new together.
  • Assign a mentor to new employees for 30-minute chats once every week or two.

Virtual onboarding can be effective, efficient, cost-saving, and develop a solid and rewarding company culture.