8 Virtual Onboarding Ideas to Welcome New Employees in 2021

Home » Resources » Virtual OnboardingUpdated: October 21, 2021

You found our list of virtual onboarding ideas.

Virtual onboarding ideas are ways to integrate new employees into remote teams. For example, ideas include grand entrance announcements and new hire survival kits. These activities can meaningfully connect online employees with coworkers and create a warm and welcoming work environment.

Your onboarding efforts may include virtual team building and an applicant tracking system.

This article includes:

  • virtual onboarding activities
  • fun ways to welcome new employees virtually
  • virtual onboarding tips

Here is the list!

List of virtual onboarding ideas

From announcements to online scavenger hunts to Working Without Pants, here is a list of remote onboarding activities that will help remote employees start strong.

1. Online organizational chart

While your existing employees only have to learn the name of the new teammate, your new hire has a whole company’s worth of names and titles to learn. One of the best remote onboarding tips is to provide your new team member with an online organizational chart on day one. This tactic ensures that your new teammate can focus on bonding with coworkers instead of dedicating time to memorizing basic facts.

Including this resource in your standard onboarding materials is a good idea. A simple graphic or Google Doc suffices, but you could also use organizational chart software like Pingboard, which has fun features like the ability to sort colleagues into different groups like position, tenure, birthdays, and areas of interest. Whatever method you choose, be sure to update your figure regularly so that your employees receive relevant information.

2. Grand entrance announcement

One of the most important ways to welcome new hires online is to make an announcement to the rest of the team. This step is important not only to welcome the new teammate, but also to inform the whole company that the position is no longer empty. At minimum, you should collect an employee photo, along with name, role, and a short bio.

Here are a couple of ways you can announce new teammates online:

  • Compose a message on a team announcement Slack channel
  • Call a video conference meeting
  • Send a company-wide email
  • Post an announcement on an online organizational bulletin board
  • Start a welcome thread on an employee forum

You can certainly take creative approaches to a remote employee grand entrance as well. For instance, perhaps you ask the employee to record a short 80’s-dating-video-style reel by answering virtual team building questions. Or, if you and your crew use video games for team bonding, you can ask your new hire to create a character and introduce the new player into the roster.

Whatever method you use to announce the employee, you should ensure that other teammates respond with kind words and encouragement. Remote work can be lonely, but a warm welcome can set the tone for an inclusive and fulfilling experience.

3. Digital new member lounge and library

Friendly as your current crew may be, joining a new company can be intimidating. While you certainly should encourage new employees to reach out to veteran teammates, your greener teammates might be more relaxed mingling with other newbies. To create a comfortable environment for your incoming employees, you can create a digital new member lounge and library.

To create the library, collect helpful resources like employee manuals, style guides, contact lists, organizational charts, and a glossary of company terms in a folder in Google Docs or Dropbox. For the new member lounge, you can restrict a chat channel, video conference room, or social media group to fresh hires so that these individuals have a safe space to explore, socialize, and ask questions with other learners.

4. New hire survival kits

One of the more personal new employee orientation ideas is to send new hire survival kits during the first weeks. You can curate customized care packages with contributions from the rest of the team and mail the package.

New hire survival kit ideas:

  • Snacks
  • Company swag
  • Stress ball
  • Earbuds
  • Funny pictures
  • Coffee
  • Water bottle
  • Inspirational quotes
  • Business cards

The gift can double as a virtual team building exercise if you ask each team member to suggest an item and write a welcome message. Perhaps Geoffrey sips a special tea that helps him focus, while Selma finds the best way to unwind is by looking at photos of hedgehogs in hats. Instead of asking each employee to send an object, you can take suggestions and gather all the ingredients for the package, giving the present a more personal and collaborative touch.

As an added plus, obtaining your new employee’s address up front means you can send stealthy surprises in the future!

Learn more about team building kits.

5. Brand new buddy calls

Work friendships can take longer to form in virtual workplaces owing to limited interactions. Remote workers often report feeling lonely, and being a new employee can be an isolating experience as well. By pairing up a new teammate with existing employees, you can fight feelings of isolation and establish friendly faces within the virtual office.

Applications like Donut can randomly pair team members for a casual chat, or you can encourage teammates to voluntarily reach out to new members. Inspiring these conversations forms the basis of relationships and can help remote employees settle into new work-spaces much more quickly.

Here are more ideas to create work friendships.

6. Remote team welcome lunch

In a non-remote office, the department might take a new employee to lunch on the first day. Virtual offices do not need to forego this tradition. While your work-from-home crew may not be able to gather at the same restaurant, you can still share a meal together via Zoom or WebEx. You can provide each member of the team with a stipend of $10-$15 to purchase a treat. As a special touch, you can allow the guest of honor to pick the type of food everyone orders, such as noodles, pizza, burritos, or breakfast foods, or you can enable free choice. The quality of the discussion is much more important than the choice of cuisine. During your call, the group can play team building games online, or you can engage in casual get-to-know-you discussions.

Here is a list of ideas and tips for virtual lunch and learns, and more fun team bonding ideas.

7. Ties that bind

Common ground is often harder to find in virtual workplaces due to the relative lack of casual conversations. Virtual onboarding activities like ties that bind form an instant connection between coworkers.

To play ties that bind, merely challenge each teammate to find at least one common trait with the new member. Your crew can scour the grand entrance announcement for clues, or can message the newbie for a chat. Either way, the exercise creates a foundation upon which remote coworkers can form a bond. Upon discovering similar interests such as running, vegetarianism, or Harry Potter fandom, teammates could even form group chats and later add other members.

Here are more connection games to play with new employees.

8. Online welcome scavenger hunt

Your new employee has a lot to learn. Online welcome scavenger hunts gamify the process of adjusting to a new workplace and make the process more fun than stressful. We made a template that you can provide to your fresh hire. You can allow the employee a couple of weeks to complete the challenge to ensure enough time for training and settling in. The teammate can reach out to other team members for help, which will foster connection and encourage collaboration.

virtual onboarding scavenger hunt

You can change the prompts of the hunt as needed, especially if some questions do not apply to your company. The new hire can complete and turn in the scavenger hunt for a prize, such as credit to the company store or a gift card.

Here are more ideas for your virtual scavenger hunt.

And here is a list with more games to play on zoom with coworkers.

Conclusion

The first day of work in a traditional office means acquainting yourself with a strange building, new rules, and dozens of unfamiliar faces. When starting a new work-from-home job, the physical scenery stays the same. While the familiar home office might make a remote employee feel more comfortable on the first day, the lack of change can make the transition tough. The online onboarding ideas on this list can honor the start of the virtual worker’s journey and solidify the new employee’s status as a valued member of the team.

For more tips on managing a remote workforce, check out our posts on virtual engagement ideas and virtual orientation weeks ideas.

We also have a list of the best onboarding books.

FAQ: Virtual onboarding

Here are some of the most common questions and answers about virtual onboarding.

What is virtual onboarding?

Virtual onboarding is the process of introducing and acclimating a remote employee to a virtual office and distributed team. While there are several components to the undertaking, remote team building is a key factor to the online onboarding process.

How do you onboard a new employee virtually?

To onboard an employee on the first day of remote work, you should first check that all paperwork is in order. Next, you should ensure that the employee has access to all applicable programs, set up logins and passwords, test the software, and give demonstrations if necessary. You can give the employee a virtual tour by sharing screens during a video call. Lastly, you should make an introduction to the rest of the team and plan a team bonding activity to help the new hire feel welcome.

What are good virtual onboarding ideas?

The best remote onboarding ideas introduce employees to colleagues and facilitate team bonding. Good virtual onboarding ideas include new hire survival kits, brand new buddy calls, and remote welcome team lunch.

How do you make new remote employees feel like a part of the team?

You can help new remote employees feel like a part of the team by providing comprehensive training and resources, introducing the new member to the group, encouraging other employees to initiate conversations, and planning team bonding activities.

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Author: Angela Robinson

Team building content expert. Angela has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and worked as a community manager with Yelp to plan events for businesses.

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