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Creating Exceptional Virtual Onboarding Experiences

The challenges companies faced in 2020 forced companies across the digital sector to shift to a fully remote working model.

For many companies, remote working was offered as a perk or benefit, and the opportunity to 'work from home’ occasionally was one which was taken up by employees in fits and starts. Suddenly, companies were thrust into full-time remote, physically dis-jointed ways of working which was a significant adjustment for them to make.

The need for companies to maintain their internal cultures, sense of community and engagement levels among their staff became more important than ever, and for many businesses that continued to grow, hiring new starters in a virtual environment was a first.

Likewise, the way in which they delivered great onboarding experiences changed and this process went online. So, what are the best-in-class companies doing to deliver exceptional virtual onboarding experiences?

work from home illustration

In Episode 2 of our Life in Digital Podcast, Ed was joined by Daniel ‘DanTheAgencyMan’ de la Cruz, Founder and Chief Learner at Polymensa.

“Daniel "DanTheAgencyMan" de la Cruz has had the honour of researching over 3,000 agencies in the past 6 years.

“He's on a mission to explore the parallels between different sectors, athletes, artists, celebrities and agencies - to help agency leaders improve their skills and come up with novel ideas that move their agency into a different league. This includes in-depth explorations of agency and life themes with a select team of agencies at his tailor-made learning & development company for agencies - Polymensa.”

Most recently, Daniel’s work has seen him conduct extensive research into 41 companies, looking at what they’re doing to deliver best-in-class virtual onboarding experiences.

It’s clear from his findings, and the conversations with Ed that providing an exceptional virtual onboarding experience is the key to ensuring new starters are fully immersed in the company’s culture and are as productive as they can be as quickly as possible.


It starts before day one

Pre-boarding plays a significant role in delivering a successful experience. Before your new employee starts, there are several things companies should consider to create a positive experience and to ease their transition into their new role.

Daniel highlighted the simple act of sending an Org Chat as “it really helps someone to visualise who’s in their department.” Adding images to it as well will help new starters recognise people on video calls, when they’re in the early stages of their new role.

Likewise, sending a clear schedule of what they can expect to be doing in their first 1-4 weeks and sending them equipment (e.g. laptop) that’s set up with company systems and ready to go from day one were key elements of a great pre-boarding experience.

working from home illustration


Avoid information overload

Many companies were resolute in their commitment to limiting the amount of meetings for new starters, often capping their duration and number per day, in order to avoid information overload early on.

A large number also tried to make sure their new starters didn’t feel obliged to appear online or active across online tools like Slack or Teams in order to prove they were working. Notifications were turned off outside of working hours and they were encouraged not to respond to emails during these periods.

These policies were best communicated through clear guidelines and information delivered via line managers or HR/People Ops Directors.


Ask questions of yourselves

Checking in with new starters through surveys and questionnaires was fairly commonplace amongst the companies researched. Some of the more interesting results came when companies switched the perspective from how is our new starter performing and have they met our expectations to are we meeting our new starter’s expectations as a company.

Daniel’s research found that in one company who looked at it from this perspective, if they hadn’t met their employee’s expectations, they wouldn’t stay longer than 9 months. Similarly, if they had only somewhat met their expectations, employees wouldn’t stay longer than 12 months.

The information in this article only scratches the surface with regards to how companies can create exceptional virtual onboarding experiences.

Daniel and the team and Polymensa’s report contains a wealth of insight, information and incredibly useful tips on how to get your processes right to create an engaging and productive onboarding experience – download your free copy here 

Likewise, to hear Daniel’s discussion with Ed on our Life in Digital Podcast, you can listen to episode two here:



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