Starting a new job in a pandemic: Virtual onboarding to the rescue

Like most new pandemic-induced working practices, remote onboarding is here to stay. How can employers make the process, from device provisioning and training to helping new hires feel welcome, as seamless as possible?

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Starting a new job can be stressful under normal circumstances, but starting a new job during a global pandemic, when all interactions with managers and teammates take place online, is a uniquely challenging situation.

Just ask Marta Rodriguez, who started her job as a social media manager at Adria Solutions in June 2020. It took her longer to learn about the company, the business culture, and the industry she’d moved into than it would have if she’d been surrounded by her colleagues, Rodriguez said.

She’s not alone. While uncounted businesses around the world have shed jobs in the past year, organizations made up of traditionally office-based workers have continued to hire where budgets have allowed. Those companies have had to figure out how to provision their new hires with computing equipment, train them in new technologies and work processes, and make them feel like part of the team, all without in-person contact.

Some companies had a head start, having begun upgrading and enhancing their onboarding processes in 2019, said Jason Cerrato, senior research director at Gartner. But most organizations weren’t ready to onboard individuals who were recruited entirely virtually to start a job in a remote setting when that role had not previously been remote.

“[New employees] were joining teams they may not have had the chance to meet in person or joining companies they may have never visited on-site,” he said.

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