While HR leaders world over are discussing the various challenges in the area of virtual onboarding, the following are some possibilities for practitioners who worry about new recruits falling behind or feeling isolated in a team where they could potentially be the only ones who lack an interpersonal connection as they were never a part of the physical workplace before the pandemic.
Get-to-know your Manager
Informal virtual chats with the supervisor can be set up on a regular basis where only topics outside of immediate work goals are discussed. This could be every alternate day in the initial weeks, followed by once-a-week sessions when the new team member is a few months old. The HR Point of Contact (PoC) can keep a tab on how the sessions are progressing by frequently obtaining feedback tidbits from both sides.
Handholding Sessions with Team Members
A virtual buddy can be assigned by the HR PoC/hiring manager or could be a volunteer team member well-versed in the new incumbent’s job responsibilities. It is important that the buddy be an approachable person and is able to make time in their schedule to guide the new recruit. Since the whole interaction would be remote, the buddy may have to go an extra mile to mimic real-life experiences of looking at spreadsheets, presentations, or dashboards together and resolving the new team member’s doubts.
While in large corporations, it is possible to have a variety of Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) across verticals and hierarchies in the mentoring roster, in smaller organizations, the HR PoC may themselves have to take on the mantle of a mentor and ensure regular check-ins with the new hire – ensuring that the latter is maintaining a consistent learning curve and is acclimatizing to the work culture.
Friend of a Friend
HR could organize in-house cyber chatroom sessions that promote virtual socialization among colleagues from different teams and across levels. This could provide new hires an idea of what informal conversations among co-workers in the physical workspaces – be it in an elevator, a hallway, or near the coffee vending machine- would feel like.