What is Virtual Onboarding and How to Do It Right?

Hiba Ali

Senior Writer:

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green tickPublished : November 2, 2022

Virtual onboarding is a process that involves video conferencing technology and online resources to integrate a new employee into your organization. Virtually onboarding new hires have never been more critical than now in the current remote environment.

Whether the company launches a new product or welcomes new employees doesn’t matter, the impression and impact should be excellent.

How to virtually onboard new hiresSource

A seamless and systematic virtual onboarding process becomes increasingly crucial as we do everything online today. Onboarding aims to build a strong foundation for the company and employee relationship. And, as a rule of thumb, the greater the onboarding, the longer the relationship will endure.

What is Virtual Onboarding?

Virtual onboarding is a process that involves video conferencing technology and online resources to integrate a new hire into your organization.

A virtual onboarding session provides new employees with an overview of your company’s mission, business goals, values, etc. The only difference is that it is conducted virtually through video calls, webinars, etc.

Importance of remote onboarding processSource

A comprehensive online learning path, pre-recorded messages from senior executives, and insightful videos can ensure remote employees feel like valued team members from day one.

Virtual onboarding is often conducted with in-person onboarding, but many companies now use a 100% virtual onboarding process because of COVID-19.

What are the Differences Between Virtual And Physical Onboarding?

Below are the differences Between Virtual And Physical Onboarding :

Absence of Physical Experiences

Being around the new hire in person, greeting them, and introducing them to their colleagues is a different feeling. You can only expect things to fall into place slowly if you are executing all of these steps online. When people meet online, it will feel a lot less personal and humane.

Demands Constant Efforts

Induction journeys should be so engaging that new team members know what’s coming next at all times. This is a constant effort for HR managers, who may find it challenging. Getting some control over the virtual onboarding process can be achieved using software that provides end-to-end solutions.

How popular are virtual onboarding programSource


Video conferencing applications have connected the world significantly, but understanding human emotions through screens still has a long way to go. When you’re on a video call, it’s hard to understand people’s body language, gestures, or expressions, and it’s even harder to determine if they interpreted you correctly.

Unlike an offline onboarding process where newcomers could ask their managers and peers about their roles and company, virtual onboarding may not offer that clarity if one of the steps falls through.

Technical Incompetence

One of the biggest challenges of remote onboarding is the need for more proficiency in specific technical tools. For example, new employees may need to become more familiar with video conferencing, management, CRM tools, or other standard tools offered by their new company.

As a result, the gap will be prominent, but you can fill it with clear documentation and an explanation of the software to the new employee.

Insufficient Passion & Enthusiasm

Through an offline onboarding process, a new hire can quickly better understand how a person approaches various tasks throughout the day.

The employees often witnessed heartwarming encouragement from colleagues when they were unsure how to jell together. By interacting closely with each other, people experience emotions and form memories.

What Are The Benefits Of Virtual Onboarding?

Below are the benefits of virtual onboarding:

Benefits Of Virtual Onboarding

1. Increased Efficiency

A remote employee faces fewer distractions than an in-office employee. For example, they don’t spend time talking around the water cooler or getting distracted by random conversations. As a result, they can focus on the resources provided and get up to speed faster during the remote onboarding process.

2. More Flexibility

New remote hires feel more comfortable going through the onboarding program at their own pace instead of adjusting to a new schedule, place, and people. To understand Employee Onboarding is less stressful for remote employees because they stay in their familiar environment.

3. Cost-Efficient

Remote onboarding saves costSource

Virtual onboarding takes significantly less time and costs when all the resources are in place than traditional onboarding.

4. Personalized Learning

Onboarding new employees digitally requires the creation of personalized training materials. Today’s technology, like project management software and digital adoption platform, can create personalized and engaging employee onboarding programs at scale to provide them with the first call-to-action specific to their role and catapult them to rapid productivity.

How To Onboard New Work-From-Home Employees?

The process of onboarding a work-from-home employee is no different from that of hiring a new in-house employee. Follow these tips for a smoother process:

Steps to onboard WFH employees

1. Establish a Remote Onboarding Process

Creating a different onboarding experience for work-from-home employees is essential, just like you do for in-house employees. Although this will be a little different, it still outlines where employees can access training, understand their duty, and find answers to their questions.

This is similar to an employee handbook covering everything your business offers. Then, using your internal guide as a starting point, you can make the necessary adjustments to create a separate WFH onboarding experience. This will make everyone sing the same song no matter where they live or work.

2. Video-Based Virtual Training

Create short, online training videos for team members to always refer to if they need further assistance. Although this will take up additional resources and time on your part, these videos will last for years to come for your current and future employees.

Keep the information organized in one folder, and they’ll be available whenever employees need help. With no extra effort, your initial step will be multiplied tenfold.

3. Give Employees Access to Communication Tools

Using communication and project management software is the best way to keep everyone in the loop about what your team is working on. As a result, projects will stay on schedule, and no confusion will occur about what is happening or when things are due.

First, tell your new team members about the tools they need to learn in your training videos. Then show them how to find and use specific features.

4. Schedule Regular Check-ins (Don’t Micromanage!)

Why micromanaging is not advisedSource

The communication tools you have in place don’t mean you have to check in every five minutes with a WFH employee. However, hovering over your remote workers is counterproductive and adds unnecessary stress to the situation. As a result, your team is unable to do their jobs effectively. 

It is best to clarify your check-in schedule during your onboarding session and include it in your documents, so everyone knows what’s expected of them. 

5. Routinely Review Performance

You should conduct performance reviews for your home-based crew as you would for your in-house team. You will monitor your team’s progress and get feedback on what’s working and what’s not. Once you have brainstormed ideas to improve the process, it won’t snowball into something big.

Besides providing feedback at 30/60/90-day and one-year marks, you should also regularly solicit their input to find out what they like and wish was different.

What Are The Steps To Building A Successful Virtual Onboarding Process?

How virtual onboarding benefits businesses


The virtual onboarding process must be as smooth and seamless as possible. New hires will likely experience some excitement and anxiety on their first day, so it’s a great idea to make the employee journey as positive as possible:

Step 1: Prepare Them And Be Prepared Early

The most satisfactory way to prepare for the first day is to create excitement before it happens. This is called preboarding. So what do you do to prepare?

A. Ensure the new hire’s gadgets are ready and in good condition when your technical team hands them over. Ensure their login IDs and passwords are completed and sent out via email.

B. Identify their best friend, who will act as their central support pillar and friend during their first few days (more on this later); Have the documents ready that you need them to sign to complete the joining process.

Send them a welcome email even before their first day. Your communication can help you convey the initial stages you want the new hires to take and share a rough idea of their first day.

Preboarding is a topic on its own, but it also gives you a chance to make a big impression.

Step 2: Send A Welcome Package

Who doesn’t love gifts? You can delight new employees by giving them nicely crafted welcome packages from their new employers. It’s an excellent opportunity to motivate them to post a picture on Linkedin. Hands down, a welcome package must be part of your virtual onboarding routine.

 A Welcome PackageSource

For a great welcome package, here are a few items to include: An employee handbook outlining the most important things they should know, Office supplies and gadgets, and Snacks.

This welcome package can include books, courses, memberships, conference tickets, or anything they want to learn more about. Although they may prefer snacks and other gifts, this part will help them grow as individuals and professionals.

Step 3: Put Yourself In Their Shoes

Often, we can find answers by putting ourselves in the shoes of the person we’re trying to help. Here, the employee is the one we’re trying to help, and the problem statement is to build an impactful virtual onboarding process for them. So, why not ask yourself these questions?

A. When you first joined the company, what was it like?
B. What will you appreciate most?

6 Best Practices For Your Virtual Onboarding Program

For a positive virtual onboarding experience that will encourage retention and excite new employees, follow these virtual onboarding best practices:

Best Practices For Virtual Onboarding Program

1. Start Your Onboarding Process Early

Onboarding is often left for remote companies until the first day of an employee’s employment. There is a more reasonable approach, and it begins well before the new employee clocks in. Once a new employee has been hired, send a welcome packet to them as soon as possible.

There’s nothing more exciting than free stuff and goodies, so send out a welcome package after you offer employment to the person, and your candidate accepts the position. Receiving this package will alleviate first-day jitters and build goodwill.

The new hire will feel a sense of connection before every meeting, so they will be more inclined to start right away.

2. Create And Share An Onboarding Schedule/Agenda

You should include a plan in your welcome packet that contains a schedule for how your new joinee onboarding and the first two weeks will go. In addition, you should send a welcome gift.

By doing so, you can give them a preview of what’s coming up and ease them into their new schedule and how to work with you and your team.

3. Schedule Virtual Training Sessions

Effective Employee Virtual Training ProgramSource

You can schedule some virtual training sessions in your new employees agenda, including Google Slides for training presentations, internal training videos, and links to online tutorials. They can do this at their own pace.

With live video calls between instructors and new hires, employees can learn the basics of their team or department and proprietary software quirks.

4. Assign Easy Tasks To Build Confidence

Get your new employees comfortable with your new job by giving them easy tasks to complete immediately.

For example, have them complete HR paperwork, watch a video, set up their company email, Slack, and PM software profiles, etc. You will help them get used to the software, practice it, and gradually ease them into handling real projects.

5. One-On-One Meetings To Introduce The Team

It’s easier to get to know the employees you’ll work with if you hold a virtual meet-and-greet. Next, incorporate video calls on the timetable, starting with smaller groups of workers they’ll be interacting with frequently, and schedule one-on-ones with the manager or meetings with other supervisors with whom the employee will work closely.

6. Assign A Welcome Buddy

As a final stage, we suggest you pair new employees with one another or pair them with someone from their respective team, enabling them to learn the ropes and be there for them if they get stuck.

This person will serve as their designated go-to employee. Therefore, they will feel less confused and more relaxed knowing they can always get help.

Virtual Onboarding Checklist

Virtual Onboarding ChecklistSource

  • Send them pre-onboarding resources – Provide new hires with valuable videos, free swag, and necessary equipment, so they are familiar with your culture even before their first day.
  • Schedule a brief orientation call – Schedule a virtual meeting that includes: Review of the company mission, ethos, and vision, Onboarding documentation (organization charts, contact information); updated digital employee handbook, mentorship and orientation buddy details, etc.
  • Host team orientations – Introduce your new hires to team goals and KPIs to measure team performance.
  • Create a 30/60/90-day onboarding plan – An effective onboarding plan should last for at least 90 days, and it can even survive a year in the current economic environment. Work with your managers to create a 30-day, 60-day, and 90-day onboarding plan with regular video conferences.
  • Introduce them to your company’s ethos and goals – You can build a sense of community among remote workers by integrating your favorite collaboration tools like Slack and Microsoft Teams. They can introduce themselves and connect with other team members at their comfort level here.

Some Common Virtual Onboarding Mistakes To Avoid

virtual onboarding programSource

1. One-Size-Fit Approach For Everyone

Just as two people cannot be alike, their abilities and preferences differ. This is why it is essential to get regular feedback on the onboarding process.

It’ll help you address any loops you could improve and help you decide what changes need to be made in the system for the next employee.

2. Not Thinking Ahead

More than onboarding a new employee on day one or week one is needed to get them settled into their new role and responsibilities. Plan at least one week for the new employee before joining the company.

Provide them with enough resources, assistance, and collaboration to make it a satisfying employee experience at every step.

3. Using The Same Offline Onboarding Systems

Since the pandemic outbreak, the world has changed drastically, and the onboarding experience is no different. In addition to changing from offline to online, there is a drastic change in how people communicate, collaborate, and structure their work.

Consequently, the 2019 approach is no longer viable, and if you still use the same approach, it’s time for a change.

4. Overwhelming Them With Too Many To-Dos

Onboarding remote workers usually involves many administrative tasks, which can be manageable. You can break these duties into smaller parts and milestones and prioritize them according to their urgency and importance.

This will allow the employee to have a structured day-to-day schedule and to complete their onboarding tasks with a systematic approach.

Bottom Line

Despite the nuance of remote work, understanding how behavioral drives translate into the virtual workplace is more important than experience (as a trainer or trainee).

Whether you’re a new virtual HR manager or a seasoned one doesn’t matter, employee onboarding is critical to your business’s success. Giving your employees a chance to grow and improve shows employee engagement and excellent company culture.

In this article, we covered virtual onboarding best practices and how to enhance new hire onboarding experiences to keep the best employees who will become the future leaders of your company. You can smooth out a potentially tricky process by making yourself available to help and acting with empathy.

Virtual Onboarding FAQ's

Onboarding an employee on the first day of remote work involves checking all paperwork. After setting up logins and passwords, testing the software, and providing demonstrations if necessary, you should ensure they have access to all applicable programs.

During a video call, you can share screens and give the employee a virtual program tour. To help the new hire feel welcome, you should introduce them to the rest of the team and plan a team bonding activity.

During a virtual onboarding process, new employees may need to complete multiple rounds of documentation, training, group interaction, a 1:1 meeting, orientation sessions, and administrative tasks.

A company's onboarding process prepares employees for their roles, philosophies, and what the company offers. As well as engaging employees, it creates workers dedicated to the company's success and helps retain new hires by making them feel like they belong.

A virtual onboarding process involves in-person onboarding processes like orientation, meeting the team, training, etc., online. These can take the form of videos, quizzes, documents, or presentations, and most of the time, they utilize communication programs such as Slack or Google Meet.

Onboarding is a short-term process of acclimating new employees, while training is an ongoing process of building workplace skills and proficiency.

Updated : December 1, 2022

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