Onboarding a Virtual Team Member

The first day of work is intimidating for anyone. Learning a new culture, making friends, and finding your place is challenging. In a virtual context, it can be less intimidating at first because there are less people looking at you as you walk in. However, as in any position, if onboarding is not handled well, new virtual staff will end up feeling disconnected from and less invested in the success of the company.

Have a Plan

To help virtual staff feel welcome on their first week or two working with your company, make sure you are well prepared for their start date. Having their email address set up, their orientation documentation sent to them, and their initial introductory tasks set up and ready to go makes a huge difference. It shows that you highly value them and that you would not want to waste their valuable time while the IT department figures out a good password to set for them.

Action Step: Create an onboarding TODO template for each staff that joins your company. Make sure the deadlines for the preparations are before the new staf starts.

Make a Friend

To feel like they belong in a new company, a person needs to feel like they have a friend at the office, someone they can trust and talk to. In a virtual context, that is not going to happen accidentally around the water cooler. You need to create spaces and opportunities for friendships to develop.

At Twassistant, we meet as a team every two weeks as exclusively personal relationship building time. We talk about family, friends, hobbies, and everything else that happens in our lives. Those meetings create fuel for the off-topic, fun conversations on our instant messaging community, Slack.

Action Step: Brainstorm two or three ways virtual staff could have a space to make friends at work.

Quick Wins

Part of a good onboarding processing is kickstarting a positive feeling of success and accomplishment. A good of doing that is to have a straightforward, slightly challenging, and engaging task that has a concrete deadline and deliverables. Try to have the deadline be no more than 2 weeks from the start date, the earlier the better.

Once the task has been delivered successfully (and make sure that you provide the training and support that they need to be successful – don’t leave it up to chance!), then you can praise their good work and make them feel productive and accomplished. Once that positive cycle starts, your new staff is much more likely to be successful in the long-run.

Action Step: Create a structured and straightforward task for your new staff to complete within their first two weeks.

First impressions matter! So make sure your new virtual staff get every opportunity to have a good first impression of your company and give a good first impression of themselves to you and the team.