Online Onboarding – 4 Key Steps to Overcoming the Challenges of a ‘New Normal’

Online onboarding was my first taste of a ‘new normal’ amidst the pandemic when I joined a new company (my present employers) in April.

This ‘new normal’ is not exclusive to me. Many professionals, both in India and abroad are being inducted online due to imposed lockdowns. Online onboarding has raised a series of questions for new employees – How do I engage with my new co-workers? How do I build a trusting relationship with my superior?

I had the same questions in mind during my initial days of joining.

I’m undertaking 4 key measures which helped me build a strong rapport with my co-workers. I believe these steps will help new employees seamlessly assimilate themselves in a new working environment.

  • Transparent and open communication – Your co-workers cannot physically see what work you are undertaking remotely. Hence, it is important to keep all lines of communication open to contact them and vice versa. This way the relevant internal stakeholders will know exactly what tasks you are undertaking and potential projects you are ideating for the company. When you are open to interactions it not only lends more clarity about the new role you are undertaking but also builds trust.
  • Help others and ask for help – Collaboration is key and has a two-fold benefit. One, when collaborating with co-workers on projects, you will understand how the organization (or specific departments) operate which can give you valuable insights on where and how you as an employee fit into the organizational structure. Two, when you are open to helping others, your co-workers perceive you as an employee who is approachable which results in building positive professional relationships. It is natural to ask for help when joining a new job. Additionally, it also creates a perception among your peers that you are taking this new endeavor seriously and you’re open to learning which can only yield positive outcomes.
  • Understand your role and prioritize – In whatever job role you are entering, there will be certain tasks assigned to it. Appropriate working conditions and resources required might not be a reality with most of us working from home. Hence, try and understand what tasks can you perform and what you can’t execute in full capacity (at the moment). Prioritize those tasks which you can perform efficiently with the resources you are able to manage. This way you will be able to contribute meaningfully to the organization. Regularly update your relevant internal stakeholders. Explain to them as to why you can and cannot do certain tasks. This way your co-workers can also operate and co-operate with you accordingly.
  • Empathize and be respectful – For anyone joining a new company, they bring with them their curiosity and a hunger to make a mark as soon as possible. There is nothing wrong with this but sometimes can lead to overstepping of some subtle boundaries. Of course you will want to connect with your co-workers. However, just like you, they are also battling the uncertainties and vulnerabilities during the pandemic. Therefore, empathize with their situation. When connecting with them, ask first if they can dedicate some time, if they approve, only then move forward with the conversation. Respect their space and their time because you don’t know under what circumstances they are operating.

Online onboarding comes with a new set of challenges. However, these obstacles can be trounced if new employees can keep an open mind towards overcoming them thoughtfully.

By Ayushman Basu,

Sr. Corporate Communications Manager, SoCheers