Onboarding Remote Colleagues – Getting to Know the Team

Maaike Dokter

Starting a new job, or hiring a new employee, is always exciting: both parties are motivated to make a great first impression and start the new collaboration. A first day on the job usually implies going to an office building and meeting your new team and colleagues. However, this phenomenon is slightly different in these times where COVID-19 has us all working from home, and this is of course always different for companies who operate from a remote-first mindset.  

Onboarding is a crucial part of starting a work experience, but also one of the most challenging things to do right. So, how do you onboard a new colleague onto a team when working remotely? There are many different proactive things you can do here. We will highlight some of them in the following blogposts, like assigning a buddy and using new technology to introduce a codebase. Today, we will focus on (video) introductions with the team

Getting to Know the Team

Colleagues are everything: they form a large part of the culture of the company and influence your work experience. However, as you might have noticed while working remotely, meeting people online is different from meeting them in person. Calling them specifically without having a direct question or problem can sometimes even feel awkward. Nonetheless, ensuring the new colleague meets their direct coworkers on a personal level is extremely crucial for a good onboarding process. This lowers the barrier for the new colleague to get in touch with teammates later to ask for help, guidance or to collaborate, which directly influences productivity, effectiveness and happiness.  

In the current state of the art, there are already plenty of tools that can help your team get closer, for example by encouraging virtual meetings to drink a cup of coffee. Within Xablu, we use Slack on a daily basis and we have integrated a plugin called Donut. Every week, our colleagues get matched up and challenged to drink a cup of coffee together, eat lunch together or just call each other to catch up. Even after the onboarding period has shifted into everyday work, connecting with colleagues on a personal level is still something that requires attention.  

While meeting individuals is crucial, it can aso be beneficial to organise a team meeting for a virtual afternoon drink or catch-up session: this allows the new colleague to see the team dynamics, but it also supports the feeling of being part of this team spirit, 

Last but not least, encourage each other to turn on video for these calls. For work calls, audio can suffice to make calls more efficient. However, during audio calls there is a larger change of overlapping each other when talking due to delays or the absence of natural body language. When having a personal conversation, video will add a different dimension, atmosphere, and focus that will enhance the feeling of meeting in person.  

There are other proactive things you can do as a company as well, like guiding your colleagues through their work and using tools to share ways of working and projects. Which best practices does your company follow to onboard new colleagues? And how have they been adapted to be suitable for remote working? 

Whenever we start a new project, we focus on the onboarding process at our client as well. Another great reason to hire us for your next project!