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4 Quick and Free Games to Play with Your Virtual Team in Microsoft Teams

Whether you’re part of a fully remote organization or joining calls with clients across the country, you’re bound to find yourself joining a video call and needing to fill a few minutes while everyone logs on. While Mondays are great for asking folks about their weekends and catching up on the usual small talk, by the time Wednesday rolls around you might find yourself searching for new ways to make the most of the first five minutes of meeting time before digging into your agenda.

We’ve curated this round-up of the best free, work-friendly games you can install today to Microsoft Teams or other video applications so you can banish those awkward silences and start hosting the virtual meetings everyone is excited to attend. 

Install these before your next virtual meeting

Frameable Anagrams

If you and your team have been fans of Wordle, you’re sure to love this new game that teammates can play solo or during a meeting. Unscramble letters to make words from 3-6 letters long. Playing Anagrams is a great way to collaborate with your team to solve a quick and new puzzle every day. 

Race to complete puzzles with your colleagues in a meeting or play by yourself as a quick brain break throughout the day from the Anagrams app in the Teams sidebar.

Kahoot Trivia

For the days when you have a few more minutes or want to break out into teams to build connections, a round of Kahoot trivia is a great way to get everyone’s attention and start your next meeting off on a positive note. 

Install the Kahoot add-in to connect your existing Kahoot account and access trivia games without having to leave Teams. Kahoot is great for quick, fun trivia questions everyone can take part in, engaging breaks during long meetings, or checkpoints during learning sessions to be sure your lessons are effective. 

Microsoft’s Games for Work

Last fall, Microsoft released its Games for Work application to provide users with classic games like Microsoft Solitaire, Microsoft IceBreakers, Microsoft Minesweeper, and Microsoft Wordament in their in-call experience.

Microsoft’s native games application is a great option for large meetings, with options for up to 250 players at once so you can engage and excite even your biggest gatherings or break the ice in smaller groups and kick-off calls with a quick, fun game. 

Polly for Quizzes

Polly is an excellent addition to meetings as you can develop quiz questions based on your upcoming meeting topics, your organization’s history, pop culture or current events, and plenty more. Many organizations will have already approved and installed Polly, so playing it should be a breeze.

You can also start with polls to kick off meetings: ask your team what drink they’re currently enjoying, what they’ll have for lunch, brain teasers, and more. 

Create moments for connection and celebration

While it is common to simply think that connection with remote colleagues, clients, or teammates will come with time, it’s important to create space for these small, fun moments to happen as they are crucial for building a sense of connection with your team. These interactions help foster trust between coworkers and help to remind us that we are working with real people with real emotions who want to celebrate big and little wins alike. Although every meeting is different, I’m sure most of us wouldn’t mind an extra dash of fun here and there.

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Why a Virtual Workspace is Essential for Productivity, Whether You Work in the Office or Not

This article originally appeared on Fast Company.

We’re no longer debating whether hybrid work is the future of work. The question now is if leaders should prioritize the in-person experience or the virtual experience to optimize their distributed workplace strategy.

It’s understandable why many executives want to focus on their company’s in-person experience. Shared office spaces carry a perceived sense of normalcy that many have missed, and it is seemingly easier to brush the dust off our old playbooks for designing in-person workplace cultures than it is to tackle the challenges of distributed workspaces. But to achieve the full benefits of hybrid and distributed workforces, and enable all employees to be productive and fulfilled, the virtual experience must be the priority—even if your company primarily engages in person. 

The Enterprise has Been Distributed for Decades

With all the talk about hybrid work and remote work, many people have lost sight of the fact that traditional office environments were often also distributed. We just weren’t as aware of the ways in which the friction between people who sat together and those who worked in distant offices detracted from their experience. 

It has always been rare for an entire company to work from a single building in one location. Large companies had offices globally, or a few regional offices around the country. Over time, team skills and information inevitably became siloed. In the worst cases, company tools and resources were restricted to the corporate headquarters, leaving everyone else—including freelancers and consultants—to fend for themselves. Not a great recipe for a productive and engaged workforce. 

A shared virtual workspace can remove these barriers and empower everyone with the same tools and resources. Now that the future of work is here, we have the opportunity and means to fulfill this potential. 

How a Virtual Workspace Empowers Teams

A dedicated online workspace allows everyone to work together more effectively, regardless of where they are located. To get work done, employees can access the same information, resources, and people through a purpose-built virtual workspace instead of needing to work from a specific office location.  

There are several reasons why it’s smart to align your company around a virtual workspace: 

1. Workplace Inclusivity

More voices can be heard, and people can more easily engage when online collaboration is the standard for your company. Asynchronous communication channels and modern video conferencing solutions give people opportunities to connect and share their feedback. Contrast that with sitting in a conference room, where they may be spoken over or ignored, or putting colleagues in distant offices on speakerphone. Furthermore, people can more easily balance their work and personal priorities when they can access a reliable virtual workplace from anywhere.

2. Analytics

Unlike in in-person environments, everything you do in a virtual setting can be utilized and shared to improve your company culture. For example, you can use a virtual meeting tool that analyzes how much each attendee talks. This data can help you notice if specific people dominate meetings or talk over their peers. 

3. Knowledge Retention

The most effective teams rely on shared templates and central resource hubs that streamline their work. Building your virtual workspace to have rich information libraries means employees have a go-to place to overcome their challenges—instead of asking around the organization and across offices to get the information they need. The key is to train them to navigate your virtual workspace and access these resources effectively.

4. AI Capabilities

When everyone operates from a digital-first mindset, you’ll get the most value from your software—especially AI-powered tools. When you have a bot attend your meeting to take notes, for example, it can automatically transcribe your conversation and analyze that meeting content to generate to-do lists for your team. 

Futureproof Your Organization With the Right Virtual Tooling

Providing an optimal in-person working environment requires your team to first focus on the remote experience. By using the right tools—and training your team to use them effectively to boost productivity and increase knowledge sharing—your team will be more productive and connected with your culture regardless of how they choose to work.

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6 Tips for More Effective Virtual Training

Virtual training has become essential in the new age of work, and it comes with benefits!

Virtual training sessions are less costly than renting out a venue and catering a meal for hundreds of trainees, meaning you can allocate that budget elsewhere. And because you can record a virtual training session, you can repurpose its content to provide lasting value. Further, people with accessibility needs can join virtual training sessions more easily from wherever works best for them.

Given this incredible potential, companies should ditch their old new-hire process and build a modern training strategy to reflect the needs of remote and hybrid work. 

How To Host Successful Virtual Training Sessions

Effective virtual training offers many of the same elements of in-person training—small group exercises, Q&A, and hand-outs—while using the digital environment to its fullest potential.

As you restructure your new hire training, consider these best practices for hosting virtual training sessions:

  • Include Breaks Between Training Sessions: Employees need a mental break between training sessions. Breaks also allow them to grab a snack or use the restroom. Ideally, you should provide at least one 5-10 minute break per hour to achieve optimal retention.
  • Provide Engaging Content: Trainees are most focused when given visually engaging presentations and opportunities to interact with the training content. When creating your training slides, include brief details on slides and use bullet points when possible. Further, you should continually outline the processes you are working through and create opportunities for new hires to analyze and think critically about what they are learning. 
  • Recap Material Twice Daily: At the end of a training day, summarize key points and ask team members what concepts stood out. Host a similar conversation the following day and ask if there are questions that trainees may not have realized they had when you initially covered the material. 
  • Vary Your Training Structure: Your training content should be as easily accessible as possible, whether it’s a presentation, video, or hands-on project. Experiment with each training structure and switch up your style across training sessions to keep the content engaging.
  • Ask Employees How They Like to Learn: Employees have different learning styles and may prefer to consume your training content in specific ways. Ask employees about their training experience and how they prefer to learn. Consider catering your training to individual needs and creating resources that repurpose the content for different formats.
  • Create Spaces to Connect: Whenever possible, enable trainees to collaborate during the training. Onboarding is a valuable opportunity for them to get to know each other and build a meaningful connection. 

Virtual Training Is Essential For A Fulfilling Employee Onboarding

Regularly seek feedback about your company’s training and ask employees how you can improve their training experience. By experimenting with different training structures and repurposing your content for new formats, you can appeal to the range of different learning styles within your company.

One of the most common times you train employees is during their new employee onboarding, which can make or break your new hire’s future with your company. Don’t worry: we’re here to help. Download our virtual onboarding ebook for a complete walkthrough of how to deliver a fulfilling virtual onboarding experience, including how to develop a virtual onboarding plan and strategies for engaging new hires. 

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The Remotely Possible Podcast: Insights from Amy McGeachy on HR Considerations For The Future of Work

As companies continue to realize the advantages of hybrid and remote work, it’s critical to not lose sight of the importance of prioritizing human connection and cultivating deep empathy for each employee’s unique circumstances.

In the fifth episode of the “Remotely Possible” podcast, I spoke with Amy McGeachy, Founder of McGeachy Consulting, to discuss her clients’ solutions for overcoming the inevitable challenges of transitioning to remote and hybrid setups. Here’s an excerpt from our conversation, including why empathetic managers will lead us into the future.

Introducing Amy and Her HR Consulting Business 

Amy is an HR consultant for mid-size businesses across various industries, primarily in Oregon and Washington. She also leads an eight-week virtual training series for companies across the country. For more than 13 years, she has helped brands build and evolve their HR strategy. 

“Having employees in different states, or even globally, adds a lot of HR complexity, which I think that employees and most people don’t really think about,” Amy said. “There are a lot of employment laws in different states that are varying and competing, there are a lot of tax laws that are varying and competing. There’s a lot to think about before just hiring somebody in Colorado or California. It has to be a strategic decision.” 

Establish Behavioral Norms for a Healthy Hybrid Culture

Amy shares that it can be challenging to balance the needs of in-person and remote workers, especially during team meetings.

“Probably one of the hardest situations is facilitating a meeting in person and having people calling in remotely and trying to keep that meeting on pace,” she said. “I tend to notice that one group tends to dominate the conversation more than the other.” 

While workplace technologies can help keep meetings productive, reinforcing behavioral norms within your company is vital to overcoming this challenge.

“Policies might exist, but the actual behavioral norms of how we show up in a hybrid environment haven’t completely been established,” she said. “In a year to two years, that’s going to be much more well-defined of how you show up to a hybrid meeting or facilitate a hybrid meeting.” 

For entirely remote companies, Amy advises that it’s essential to budget for in-person meetings at least once a year.

“The opportunity to bring people back together—at times—is a great one,” Amy said. “I have clients that will not be back together in the same way. And what that looks like for them is more emphasis on quarterly meetings [with] everyone coming together in a location. Or maybe it’s every six months. It’s really powerful to build some connective tissue and team build in person.” 

Successful teams will continue to empower employees by providing tailored resources they need to be productive and efficient.

“We have pushed through and broken down barriers we never thought could happen. The most common thing I am experiencing with clients is the need to work through the accommodations process with disabilities,” she said. “Employees need to speak up about what their needs are. And managers are getting much better at having those dialogues with their team members—it’s called the interactive process—and working with HR leaders to support their employees.” 

One of Amy’s clients led a book study group with its managers to help them refine their skills for the new realities of work. She recommends starting with Dare to Lead by Brené Brown if you want to do something similar.

“That book taps into the empathetic manager so much more than our very old picture of a manager,” Amy said. “Working with and understanding people for who they are and being empathetic to their situation and being willing to be vulnerable and unravel a situation—versus just pave over it and move on—those are the managers that are going to lead us into the future.” 
For more of Amy’s insights into HR and culture considerations for hybrid work, listen to the Remotely Possible Podcast, episode 5. Interested in sharing your distributed work experience with our listeners? Apply to be my guest for a future episode.

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7 Smart Ways to Engage New Hires With Virtual Onboarding

80% of new hires say they’ll leave their company if they receive a poor onboarding experience. Can you blame them?

It is exciting to join a new company, but also anxiety-inducing. If companies fail to help their new hires transition into the virtual workplace smoothly—either by not providing guidance on how to get started or leaving questions unanswered—then anxiety can turn into frustration or upset. And that’s far from an ideal first impression. 

A fulfilling onboarding experience will give new hires a clear understanding of their role, how they can navigate their virtual workspace, and ways to collaborate with their teammates effectively. Most importantly, the experience has to be engaging. Let’s explore proven ways to engage new hires so you can get them started on the right foot.

How to Engage New Hires During Virtual Onboarding

Every new hire should feel included and ready to hit the ground running in their new role. To help you achieve this, we’ve compiled the top seven tips for engaging new employees:

1. Establish Communication Norms

Explain your common company lingo, meeting styles, and critical projects to all new hires. This will help them more easily transition into the team. Ideally, you should document your standard verbiage, workflows, and meeting styles and save this information in a commonly accessible spot for your team.

2. Start Building Relationships From Day 1

New hires will be eager to meet their manager, mentor, and direct teammates. Schedule 1-on-1 meetings throughout the new hire’s first week to introduce them to the people they will be working closely with. If your company has 12 or fewer people, you can even schedule 15- or 30-minute meetups with everyone. The purpose of these meetings is to help new team members get to know their coworkers and understand how their role fits within your company’s bigger picture. 

3. Encourage Engagement Throughout the Virtual Office

Understanding how employees can engage with their colleagues in a virtual office is often challenging. During a new hire’s onboarding, show them how to venture to different “locations” in your virtual workplace and use statuses to indicate their availability. Explain how various team members use the space’s functionalities and tools, and encourage new employees to experiment with these capabilities to find out what works best for them.

4. Pair New Hires with An Orientation Buddy

After the new hire finishes their initial onboarding paperwork and administrative tasks, pairing them with a coworker who shares similar responsibilities is helpful. Have the new hire shadow their colleague and attend the same meetings, discuss their tasks, and frequently debrief throughout the day. This is a valuable opportunity for the new hire to observe the team dynamics and ask questions about navigating the virtual workspace.

5. Provide Training and Resources

Give all new employees the necessary resources and training to thrive in their roles. Overview your company’s products or services and provide an organizational chart and employee handbook. Help the new hire understand how to use your company’s virtual office software, and host several training sessions detailing these tools and how to use them (and be sure to brush up on these virtual training tips). 

6. Set Clear Expectations of Individual and Organizational Goals

A healthy culture requires every employee to understand their individual goals and how they can support the company’s mission. Outline and explain your new hire’s individual responsibilities and how these responsibilities support your company’s purpose. By knowing responsibilities from the start, new hires can prioritize their workload and stay focused. By understanding the company’s goals, they can have a better sense of purpose and a drive to accomplish those larger goals.

7. Inspire Collaborative Learning

Include your new employee in group discussions to showcase your company’s collaborative process. Doing so from day one will demonstrate how they can start in their new environment in the right way and effectively collaborate with their peers. These collaborative discussions will also help the new hire observe the team structure and each teammate’s work style. 

Employee Success Starts With Virtual Onboarding

Every new hire deserves an engaging virtual onboarding experience that equips them for success in a hybrid work culture. Building connections for new hires from day one and providing a full breakdown of how your company speaks and works will set them up for sustained success—and, ideally, a long career with your company.
There are a lot of factors that go into building an ideal virtual onboarding experience and keeping a virtual workspace running. It often helps to hire a virtual office manager who can prioritize your employee experience and orchestrate a fulfilling onboarding experience. Download our virtual office manager’s handbook to learn the processes, tools, and strategies that will empower your virtual office manager to maximize your team engagement

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6 Virtual and Remote Training Tips and Tools to Improve Your Workflows

A recent analysis of over 96 studies revealed that virtual learning can be up to 19% more effective than traditional, in-person learning. Not only can virtual learning be more effective and accessible to more people, given its nature, but virtual training, when done right, is an easy way to learn a great deal. 

If your organization is taking the leap into remote training or virtual onboarding, there is much to consider: 

  • What platform should you host sessions on? 
  • How often should sessions be scheduled? 
  • How do you keep attendees engaged? 

Below, we explore how to host successful virtual training sessions from anywhere, and technology and software outside of traditional meeting or conferencing software that will elevate the experience for you and your trainees. 

How to Host Exceptional Virtual Training Sessions

  1. Have a clear learning objective you want attendees to take away
    1. One of the best things you can do for your trainees is provide them with clear guidelines that articulate precisely what you want them to take away from training sessions. Doing this will help both you and your trainees understand where their goals should lie, and you can point back to these objectives throughout the training so they can self-assess their progress. 
  2. Chose different ways to engage attendees throughout the session
    1. Some people love to raise their virtual hand and participate in discussions, while others are more keen to stay behind the comfort of the chat box and participate from there. Regardless of how different attendees like to engage, it is crucial to attempt to engage all participants in multiple ways so that each member has a chance to shine and participate in a way that works for them. When posing questions to the group, switch back and forth between asking for answers in the chat, coming off of mute and answering a question, or using polls and other meeting functionality to encourage participation. Incorporating easy-to-use games like Kahoot! makes checking comprehension and participation more fun for everyone involved. 
  3. Take breaks often
    1. At this point, we’re all familiar with “Zoom Fatigue” and its ever-present strain on remote work and education, but that doesn’t mean dealing with it has gotten any easier! It is still as important as ever to factor in breaks, especially if you want to ensure trainees retain as much information as possible from your sessions. The cognitive load of video calls is significantly higher than other forms of learning and communication, making breaks to stretch, walk around, and look at things other than your screen exceptionally important! Our rule of thumb is to factor in a five-minute break for every 30 minutes of content. If you are delivering a longer content block, consider slotting in breaks of 15 minutes or more between sessions. 

The 3 best tools for virtual training engagement 

  1. Virtual Whiteboard
    1. Whether you are leading a brainstorming session or want to build connections between different ideas, a virtual whiteboard is a great way to help make connections among learners, and encourage participation across the group. Products like Miro are great collaborative options that you can often install directly into your chosen video conferencing software. 
  2. Multiple Screen Sharing Software
    1. If you want to ensure everyone follows your instructions or guide them through a complicated situation, employ a multiple-user screen-sharing software. Sharing multiple screens at once can give you a similar experience as walking around a classroom to ensure everyone is on the same page. Additionally, this allows learners to show they are paying attention without turning on their camera feed—thus providing a reprieve from worrying about how they appear on camera while giving training leaders the ability to verify everyone is engaged with the lesson. MultiShare is an excellent option for unlocking this capability and can be installed directly into Microsoft Teams calls to allow up to 15 users to simultaneously share their screens at once. 
  3. Quiz Software
    1. An engaging quiz platform is essential to the virtual training environment! Platforms such as Quizlet are great for creating flashcards for trainees to utilize or short quizzes to check comprehension, and it’s easily accessible with a widely-used free version. It’s a user-friendly option for training leaders to design study or supplemental materials for your courses and for learners to build their own quizzes to enhance their information retention. 

Training and onboarding are challenging in any format, and virtual training is a unique problem deserving of a unique approach. If you want more resources to host virtual onboarding sessions, explore our Virtual Onboarding Handbook. The guide is packed full of new ideas and proven strategies to make training and onboarding as smooth as possible. And when you need that collaborative spark back in your virtual training sessions, MultiShare is just what you need to bring the classroom feeling to the virtual world.

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9 Technology and Equipment Recommendations to Empower a Distributed Workforce

A shocking 49% of employees who work away from an office at least one day a week say their company does not provide them with remote collaboration tools. Of those given collaboration tools, 26% say the tools aren’t exactly right or haven’t received training to use them well. 

To create a successful hybrid work culture, companies must enable their employees with the tools for remote collaboration and connection. Let’s look at the most important tools that companies should provide.

Remote Work Tools and Equipment Every Company Should Provide

Your distributed workforce needs the right tools and equipment to be successful. Employers should provide the following technology items and equipment in their official workspaces and employees’ home offices:

  • Computer or laptop: Employees need a reliable, updated desktop computer or laptop. A laptop is an ideal choice for its portability and because it provides many of the items listed below. 
  • Monitor(s): Ask employees if an additional monitor would enhance productivity. Provide at least one monitor if you provide desktop computers to your team.
  • Keyboard and mouse: Supply ergonomic keyboards and mice to provide comfort during long working hours and avoid potential adverse health effects. 
  • Headset or earphones with microphone: Improve call quality by giving employees a headset or earphones with a microphone. This will also enable them to type while talking.
  • Reliable internet connectivity: Help remote employees secure a stable internet connection to prevent disruptions in their work.
  • Web camera: Ensure remote employees have a functional webcam for video conferencing and virtual interactions.
  • Collaboration tools: Provide access to collaboration platforms, a digital workspace or virtual office, and project management tools to facilitate seamless asynchronous teamwork.
  • Video conferencing software: Select a platform for face-to-face video communication and virtual meetings, and set up accounts for your team members.
  • Security software: Protect your team and company data from cyber-attacks by providing security tools like antivirus software and VPNs.

Help Virtual Employees Thrive From Day One

The above tools are essential for building meaningful connections in a virtual workplace, but employees must understand how to use each tool successfully.

Your employee onboarding is the ideal time to provide each employee with these tools and explain how they can use them. To help you craft the perfect virtual onboarding experience, download our virtual onboarding e-book to set your virtual and hybrid team members up for success from their first days with your company.

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The 5-Step Onboarding Plan Playbook to Go From New Hires to Raving Fans

First impressions leave a lasting mark on your employees. This is especially true when their entire experience with your company is virtual.

Employees onboarded prior to the pandemic report “significantly higher” satisfaction with their company than those onboarded virtually. In recent years, new hires have even quit before they started or shortly after their first day because of a disappointing—or nonexistent—onboarding experience.

So what are brands getting wrong? Too often, HR teams or supervisors improvise the new hire onboarding, which means employees get an inconsistent depth and quality of experience. In other cases, HR teams still use their in-person onboarding playbook, which fails to address issues vital for supporting hybrid and remote employees.  

To engage new hires, companies must reinvent their onboarding process to reflect the realities of virtual and hybrid work. Luckily, creating a fulfilling virtual onboarding is easier than you might think. Here’s how.

5 Steps For Building a Successful Virtual Onboarding Plan

An employee’s onboarding experience will set the tone for their future with your company, so you should plan each element with careful consideration. 

Follow these five steps to create a hybrid and remote employee onboarding process that makes a positive first impression and sets them up for ongoing success:

Step 1: Pre-boarding Activities

New hires will be eager to officially start their roles from the moment they sign the paperwork. Provide employees with pre-boarding activities and resources that help them become familiar with your company culture and values and begin to prepare for their work. 

Think through your employee’s experience from the moment you hire them: How will you welcome them to the team, and what questions will they have? A few essential things to provide include:

  • A series of welcome emails that share vital information and explain what the employee’s first day or week will look like
  • Company handbooks or resources that detail your company’s culture and procedures, as well as guidelines for effective written communication in virtual settings
  • Mailed swag packages with branded items, such as notebooks, laptop stickers, or apparel
  • A schedule of introductory meetings that will foster engagement 

Before your new hire starts, ensure that you plan to get them the tools and equipment they’ll need for virtual work. 

Step 2: Orientation and Training

Your pre-boarding activities should answer your employee’s initial questions and clearly explain what they should expect on their first day. Now, it’s time to plan their official orientation and training process.

  • Plan a Day 1 schedule and prepare assets that give an overview of the employee’s core responsibilities, team dynamics, and company processes. 
  • Use video conferencing tools to facilitate interactive sessions and connect the new hire with coworkers and company leadership. 
  • Provide hands-on training and help overcome technical hurdles. 
  • Establish clear guidelines for virtual communication etiquette, including response time expectations and office hours. 

Step 3: Job-Specific Training

It can be difficult for many people to adjust to a new hybrid or fully remote work environment. Onboarding is a perfect time to share remote work tips and job-specific advice for navigating your company’s virtual workplace.

For example, consider hosting online courses and webinars that explain key concepts or give a tutorial on your workplace tools. Provide training materials that cover the specific tools, software, and processes that will help them feel more productive and fulfilled in their work. Store all help documents and FAQs online so employees can access them whenever needed.

Step 4: Mentorship and Coaching

Mentorship and coaching programs provide ongoing support and guidance to remote employees. Pair experienced team members with new hires to help them understand their roles, navigate the team dynamics, and receive career guidance. Connect new hires with mentors during their first week, and encourage frequent check-ins during the first 90 days. Afterward, mentors and mentees should meet at least once monthly.

Step 5: Performance Feedback

Remote employees need performance feedback to understand how they can improve in their roles and progress to the next level. Schedule regular evaluations and check-ins to discuss each employee’s progress, address their challenges, and provide constructive feedback for continuous improvement. There are useful online feedback tools that can streamline this process.

Communication Makes Remote Onboarding Successful

New employees naturally feel anxious about joining a company and engaging primarily through text and video. Help alleviate potential negative feelings by fostering open and regular communication channels to invite questions and provide updates, clarifications, and guidance.

Carefully plan each step of your onboarding process, and continually refine your approach based on employee feedback and new insights you gain. Employees with an engaging onboarding experience can more quickly integrate into your culture and support a healthy workplace.

Of course, many other considerations go into conducting virtual employee onboarding. For a complete guide packed with tips and step-by-step instructions, download our virtual onboarding e-book.

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Why Virtual Onboarding for All Employees is Crucial for Success

Building a great hybrid work culture starts with your virtual onboarding process. But don’t just take my word for it—research shows that 70% of employees believe their onboarding can make or break their experience, and remote employees are 117% more likely to leave if they feel under-trained during the onboarding process. 

It’s crucial to create a positive first impression for remote workers and help them transition seamlessly into your company. Unfortunately, there appears to be a significant disconnect in how companies approach their onboarding for employees outside of the corporate HQ and what their remote and distributed workforce actually needs. 

The Virtual Onboarding Disconnect

A positive onboarding experience will set the stage for your workers to integrate into your company and feel fulfilled in their roles. When their first impression of your team isn’t face-to-face, however, it can be harder to ensure that impression is a good one—and it comes down to having a comprehensive onboarding process.

Where exactly are companies falling flat regarding the virtual onboarding experience? After an uninspired onboarding, remote workers are the most likely to feel undertrained (63%), disoriented (60%), and devalued (52%). 

These feelings are concerning, but companies can address them with intelligent planning. A successful virtual onboarding program should:

  • Include Workplace Technology Training: During onboarding, walk employees through each tool they will use to complete their work. Additionally, explain how they can successfully navigate your virtual workspace, including how to access critical resources. Check out more tips for successful virtual training here. 
  • Extend Onboarding Beyond Orientation: Employees need a clear understanding of what their first day and week will look like at your company. Provide a thorough schedule for their first week, and coordinate video meetings to learn more about their specific role and meet their manager, mentor, and coworkers. Schedule regular check-ins with the employee and their manager to discuss their challenges and ensure they understand their priorities. 
  • Show Them They’re Valued: Remote workers often need additional reassurance and recognition, especially when new to a company. Welcome all new team members through your companywide channels to show them they’re valued. Ensure managers provide positive feedback during every check-in, spotlighting specific achievements or accomplishments. 

Create a Fulfilling Virtual Onboarding Experience

New employees shouldn’t feel undertrained, disoriented, and devalued after they join your company. Following the strategies shared above can address these challenges and give your employees the best experience from their earliest days.

If you’re looking for more guidance on developing a successful virtual onboarding, we have you covered. Download our virtual onboarding ebook to learn the strategies and best practices to ensure your remote workers feel valued, supported, and confident in their new roles.

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Why The Virtual Office Is The Next Big Digital Transformation Trend To Shape The Hybrid Workplace

This article originally appeared on Fast Company.

After years of trying to lure employees back to full-time office work, many companies have determined that the future of work is hybrid. 

McKinsey’s The State of Organizations 2023 reports that 90% of companies allow employees to work remotely for some or most of their time, and only 14% of respondents expect remote work opportunities to decrease. Considering that companies can better attract and retain talent through hybrid work—while also boosting employee productivity—it makes sense why hybrid work is here to stay.

Despite the advantages of a hybrid setup, many leaders need help balancing employee needs across both work settings. Teams can become disconnected and disengaged by prioritizing either the in-person or virtual experience over the other. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Leaders can bridge the gap between remote and in-office workers by implementing a virtual office that becomes the hub of both in-person and remote work collaboration.

How Companies Are Failing Hybrid and Fully Remote Workers

Employees overwhelmingly want to work remotely, at least some of the time, for the rest of their career—98% in a study from Buffer—noting that it is easier to do focused work, manage stress, and avoid distractions from home.

However, there are common challenges companies must address to build a truly effective hybrid work environment. Specifically, Buffer’s study found employees working remotely commonly face the following challenges:

  • Loneliness: Although 75% of remote workers feel connected to their coworkers, 15% express feelings of loneliness. This may be because 21% of remote workers feel they stay home too often. Companies should ensure that workers have the equivalent of a virtual water cooler for non-work discussions and offer opportunities for in-person meet-ups when possible. 
  • Time Zone Struggles: Working across time zones is another common friction point. This challenge may imply teams need tools to help them manage scheduling across time zones and additional solutions or procedures to ensure projects are transferred smoothly between colleagues.
  • Collaboration Disconnect: Nearly 15% of remote workers face difficulty with collaboration and communication, which suggests that companies need different tools or processes to bridge the gap between workers across time zones and locations.

Fortunately, there’s a solution already available to help address each of these issues—the virtual office.

How a Virtual Office Fits Into Your Digital Transformation Strategy To Drive Hybrid Work Success

Building a genuinely equitable hybrid work experience requires you to rethink the employee experience through a digital lens. 

Every experience offered to in-person employees should extend to remote workers. Even more importantly, you need to create a shared virtual space where everyone works, even in your office. 

A virtual office is a place where employees can access all necessary work resources and collaborate with colleagues through a dedicated virtual space. The goal is to seamlessly integrate all the information, technologies, and opportunities given to your team through an intuitive and engaging virtual interface.

To help you get started building your virtual office, I recommend your team follow these steps:

Step 1: Audit Your Software And Tools

Take stock of your teams’ various tools and applications. Document every product and speak to your team members to understand how they use these tools in their workflows. As you document your tools, you will likely notice that individual teams use different tools for similar functions like team messaging or collaborative editing. Group apps by their function, and review your employee feedback about how often they use the tools and any drawbacks. This information will help you choose which tools to keep and which to scrap.

Step 2: Create Digital Information Hubs

Workers should be able to access appropriate resources and information quickly, regardless of where they choose to work. Once you’ve optimized your software options, creating digital information hubs that store commonly used documents and templates that can streamline work is important.

Step 3: Onboard Your Employees

Even the best digital transformation strategy will only succeed if your team members understand the strategy behind your changes. Host a recorded meeting where your leadership discusses your new toolset and explains how to navigate the virtual workspace. Encourage questions and embrace feedback as your team adjusts to their new arrangement. To further help employees succeed, save how-to guides and FAQs in a shared digital library for easy consumption. 

Step 4: Hire A Virtual Office Manager

A virtual office manager is integral to ensuring your employees get the most benefit from your virtual workspace. A virtual office manager’s role will vary based on your team’s specific needs, but commonly helps with planning and managing company events, onboarding new employees, assisting with technical support and setup, and researching new workplace tools and solutions. This Virtual Office Manager’s Handbook provides an in-depth look at a virtual office manager’s typical roles and responsibilities, plus strategies to maximize productivity in your virtual office.

The Office of the Future is Digital

You can only have a truly effective hybrid workforce if you build a digital workspace where everyone can thrive regardless of location. 

Hybrid work is here to stay, but remote workers commonly face challenges when collaborating with their colleagues and building meaningful relationships. That’s why building a virtual office that overcomes these challenges is critical to ensure you provide a consistently delightful experience to all your workers whenever and wherever they are working. 

See what a virtual office can do for your team

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