How to Leverage Technology When Virtually Onboarding
By Practicum Student
July 10, 2020
With many businesses closing their offices to slow the spread of COVID-19, working remotely has become the “new normal”. For employers and hiring managers, this brings the unique challenge of onboarding new hires virtually. One way employers can help ensure their new employees are set up for success is by leveraging the right technology.
As a new practicum student at Switchboard Public Relations (Switchboard), I was very impressed with all the ways that Switchboard was able to leverage technology to assist with my onboarding. Having employees across Canada meant that Switchboard was already set up for remote communication prior to my arrival, which made me feel confident that I would be seamlessly integrated into the team. I found the following programs extremely helpful; not only did they make my onboarding easier, but they made me look at technology as more than just a platform, but a solution and way to connect and stay connected.
Solutions to stay connected:
For teams that need to collaborate quickly and efficiently on the same project, Google Suite (G Suite) helps facilitate and streamline the collaboration processes by allowing team members to work concurrently on the same document in real-time, while tracking changes. I found using G Suite preferable to using Microsoft Office as it eliminates errors and confusion that may come out of having multiple versions of the same document. Using G Suite also allows businesses’ to take advantage of Google’s secure infrastructure as all G Suite files are backed up in Google’s cloud. This added security benefit is particularly useful if you have consultants or contractors who may be working off of their personal devices.
Slack is a group collaboration app for communicating quickly and efficiently while working remotely. Slack works as an instant messaging tool that allows you to privately message anyone in your organization as well as create group channels for team chats. I found using Slack for team and project communication preferable to email as it streamlines and organizes messages by keeping all related communication in one place. It also has a much larger file size limit than regular email, eliminating the need to compress files before sending. Being new to the team, I found that Switchboard’s general Slack channel where employees could chat about non-work related topics really helped me get to know the team better in a more casual setting, similar to an after work event.
One of the most common challenges with working remotely as a team is keeping track of what everyone is working on. Using Trello allows teams to see and track each others’ tasks and updates. By creating a general board for your team, each team member has their own list of tasks where they can add status labels and due dates. These labels make it easy to identify bottlenecks or tasks that need to be reallocated in order to meet deadlines. I had never used Trello prior to joining Switchboard and found it to be very helpful for managing my own workflow as well, by creating my own personal board to manage my tasks from start to finish. Seeing what the rest of the team was working on was also useful to me as a practicum student as it helped me learn more about Switchboard’s work and their clients.
Having daily Zoom check ins and one on one introductory meetings with the team helped make me feel welcome and like I was immediately part of Switchboard. Seeing the team interact together in these meetings also gave me a sense of Switchboard’s company culture and how well the team worked together, making me feel connected despite having never met any of them in person. Communication is key to forming successful relationships and having the chance to see non-verbal signals such as facial expressions and body language over video chat really helped ensure messages were clearly communicated. Zoom also makes meetings easy by allowing each attendee the option to share their screen and present if necessary. It even lets employees express their creativity and show their personality with the option to add a virtual background.
My experience with virtual onboarding at Switchboard gave me a new appreciation for technology and how quickly and efficiently it has allowed us to adapt to remote work. The programs they used helped me feel comfortable with joining virtually and immediately connected to the team. Given my success, I feel confident in the process should virtual onboarding become commonplace.
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