Virtual Onboarding - A new set of rules for hybrid teams

By Rich Westman

Virtual onboarding – why there’s a new set of rules for remote and hybrid teams

An employee’s first day has always been a make-or-break moment. Traditionally, they’d settle into their workspace, meet their manager, maybe grab a team lunch – all while sizing up their new surroundings (and silently picking out the pros and cons).

Now fast forward to today’s remote working world, where the vital connections that keep colleagues motivated and loyal have to be created over dodgy Wi-Fi and in many cases without any in person interactions.

In a virtual world, your onboarding process must work harder to make staff feel part of the family. So your company’s softer selling points, like camaraderie, wellbeing support and team spirit – which unfold naturally in a face-to-face environment – need to be placed front and centre.

These important intangibles encourage new starters to stick around for the long haul. They also deliver a vital dose of togetherness for the rest of your remote or hybrid team.

Design a welcome that works anywhere

Research by Glassdoor reveals that a positive onboarding experience can boost employee retention by 82%. But despite our transformed working landscape, many businesses have continued with old-school programmes that didn’t succeed, even before the WFH revolution.

If you haven’t rebooted your methods for remote colleagues, you could be making several fundamental errors:

  • Planning for week one (or day one) only
  • Not involving your wider team in the welcome process
  • Focusing on policies and procedures, rather than critical cultural details
  • Failing to show your fun side

So beyond non-negotiables like ready-to-go tech, the proper tools and training for the job and coaching on corporate goals, here’s how to help your new remote recruits feel right at home.

Develop team ties early

The days or weeks between offer acceptance and start date are pivotal to your new hire’s future performance – and they’re no time to go quiet. This ‘pre-boarding’ period often sees candidates switch off and second guess their decision, leaving you high, dry and back to hiring.

Build excitement by engaging employees well before their first day. With permission, add them to your department’s informal WhatsApp or Slack chats. Invite them to virtual get-togethers. Send them a branded welcome pack and video from their workmates. These little touches foster familiarity and quickly bring staff up to speed with team personalities, routines and rituals.

Make it a group effort

For practical purposes, remote onboarding is frequently a one-to-one exchange between manager and direct report. That’s a pressurised gig for both parties. Delegate aspects of your welcome programme to other team members and departments, and mix up meeting formats to keep things fresh. Think virtual coffee catch-ups or a combined walk/call. Colleague interaction – both professional and informal – is essential to successful onboarding, so explore achievable projects, shared challenges and fun group experiences that trigger early conversation and collaboration.

Lay the groundwork for lasting team relationships

Businesses often treat onboarding as a one-off task, stopping short just as employees are finding their feet. The result? Staff that feel disconnected and out of their depth, without the relationships or resources to productively move forward. Just as it takes time and training for individuals to learn their role, it also takes mutual commitment to develop long-term working partnerships, particularly when colleagues aren’t co-located.

So plan meaningful team building exchanges that stretch well beyond your new starter’s first week. Giving remote employees sustained opportunities to talk, laugh and grow together – with extras like regular virtual lunches, ongoing buddy schemes and inspiring group events – will deliver measurable benefits for everyone.

Prioritise fun and wellbeing

After a year of lockdowns, disruption and isolation, we’re all ready for something lighter. Numerous surveys show that sharing good times with colleagues is what remote workers miss most. A spot of innovative team building or a shared group challenge can create bonds surprisingly quickly, with measurable results.

By all means, prioritise your workplace processes and procedures, but balance them with the more caring elements of your culture. Candidates join companies for professional opportunities – but most stay for the people and perks. By building fun, wellbeing and teamwork into your onboarding programme, you can show remote staff you’re committed to their long, happy and healthy career, right from the beginning.

Kaido can help

Kaido’s inclusive six-week Health and Wellbeing Challenges successfully bring together remote and hybrid teams, helping them make lasting improvements to their physical and mental health, sleep and nutrition.

Find out how a shared team building experience – and a little friendly competition – can boost your onboarding journey. Book a no-strings product tour or chat to us on 0121 250 5795 and

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