If you’re lucky enough to land a new job during the pandemic, you’ll likely be starting the role while working virtually. Transitioning to remote work can definitely be a struggle, and joining an organization while working virtually comes with its own separate set of challenges.
I’m a Venture for Canada alumni from the 2017 cohort, and recently started a new role in the entrepreneurial ecosystem as a Venture Manager for the newly created Matter stream at Creative Destruction Lab. Prior to joining Creative Destruction Lab, I spent the last few years in consultancy and in-house roles for early-stage startups in healthcare, human resources, and hospitality sectors. I’m no stranger to remote work, as I’ve worked completely virtually for a San Francisco based startup and completed freelance projects while travelling across Canada, The US, and Europe. I’m also a bucket list blogger at Bucket Half Full where I’ve documented my travels and adventures.
Now that I’ve settled into my new virtual role at Creative Destruction Lab, I’m sharing my five top tips to maximize the virtual onboarding experience.
1. Connecting with team members & learning their strengths
Although you’ll naturally have calls and slack interactions with those on your team, it can be difficult to get to know other coworkers across the organization while working in the virtual format. This can make it difficult to get a grasp on the organizational culture and find a sense of belonging.
During my onboarding process, I had a virtual coffee chats with all 20+ members of the team. I was also given a list of where my teammates excelled in their role, whether that was formulating new Standard Operating Procedures or getting creative in the venture recruitment process. This helped me initiate thoughtful conversations with each of the members on the team, as I already had a roadmap for how to spark passion and excitement in the conversations.
Now I know whom I can turn to, in addition to my team, when I need guidance or want to throw around ideas on specific organizational functions. This was also an optimal way to collect all the information I needed to know for starting the role while making connections on the team.
2. Have an onboarding checklist
When you’re working virtually, it can be difficult to connect with your team throughout the day. When working with your teammates in-person, it’s easier to check in with coworkers a few desks away and ask follow up questions when needed. Especially during the first days or weeks, it can be tricky to figure out what you should be doing and who you should be asking for information.
If your company doesn’t have one, I encourage you to ask for a list of tasks you should complete in your first few weeks, you’ll be able to pace yourself and organize your time. This can be getting all administrative tasks completed, familiarizing yourself with standard operating procedures, and guidelines for completing any initial projects. You can then come to your team with informed questions to guide your work.
3. Have a buddy
One of the best parts of my virtual onboarding experience was getting to connect with my buddy, who also works as a Venture Manager. After I connected with all 20+ members of the team, I was asked about my preference for a buddy pairing. My Stream Lead then reached out on my behalf to make sure they were on board. My buddy and I are on different streams, and therefore don’t get to have a lot of interaction throughout our workday, despite working on the same projects and timelines. I chat with my buddy every other week and we bounce ideas around and talk about the challenges we’re facing in our role. It’s great to have support from someone that’s not directly on my team, as it provides a second opinion and different perspective. It’s also an unbiased relationship, as we don’t directly work together. It could be a great person to turn to if you’re having interpersonal issues with colleagues. Having another friendly face on our team calls has helped me feel like I’ve integrated into the organization.
4. Engage in social time
My workplace organizes a weekly call just for social purposes. This could be a time to decompress and share stories from the week, or engage in online games like Zoom trivia or Pictionary. This is a great time to build up some rapport with colleagues. If your workplace doesn’t have this, consider starting a regular call for coworkers that are also interested in integrating some social interaction into their workday.
5. Have a daily check-in
It’s integral to have regular contact with your team when working remotely. It’s great to have a daily check-in to make sure you build rapport with your team and check-in on work and wellbeing. I’ve heard some people even skip Zoom and get on an old-fashioned phone call. This allows them to get up and walk around during the day. It can also be nice to get a break from having screen time throughout the day.
Like everyone else, I’m still trying to navigate the virtual work experience. I’m always trying to find ways to make the most of this experience.
Let us know if you have any tips for your virtual onboarding experience!