We’ve all experienced the anticipation and excitement you feel the night before starting a new job. Typically, you might pack your bag and lay out an outfit you feel confident in. But when onboarding remotely, waking up to the ambiguity of a virtual environment for the first time brings a new challenge.
A Personal Experience From Within Tech Data
Like so many others, I recently onboarded remotely for the first time in my career. Although I faced a steep learning curve, I was fortunate enough to join a company that was already technology-forward. At Tech Data, when the pandemic started, the question wasn’t will we go remote but how. After countless Zoom calls, Skype coffee dates and Teams chats, I can now see how incredibly vital embracing technology can be to the onboarding experience.
The Downside to Remote Onboarding
First, let’s talk about the challenge. The energy of a company is hard to capture in any virtual onboarding training. Connections are harder to make, miscommunication easier to form and what would naturally come from being in the office (colleague availability, project urgency, overall company culture, etc.) is not the easiest thing to package and deliver to a new colleague.
However, technology is the hero in this story (along with those who adeptly use it). Somewhat overwhelming at first, I soon noticed how easy using the numerous communication tools offered at Tech Data could transform my small desk at home into a bustling conference room, productive huddle room or quiet focus room with the click of a button. And clearly, I wasn’t the only one to embrace this change.
The Silver Lining
Although lockdowns and social distancing have taken their toll, they’ve significantly boosted our technology adoption, and not just for those in the technology space.
Be honest: before the pandemic how likely were you to spend time learning a new tool to better connect with colleagues online? Would you have believed how easy working from home could be or that you could gain just as much insight from a Zoom meeting as you could sitting in the conference room?
In the past, I flexed my tech skills by dialing into a conference line. I couldn’t have imagined I’d be such a pro at tossing someone a Zoom link and recording a session (facial expressions and all) instead of tapping the big red button on my bulky hand-held recorder.
Adaptation and Adoption
According to a McKinsey Global Survey of executives, respondents believed it would have taken more than a year to implement the remote working models they use now. When in actuality, it only took an average of 11 days to do so. 1
In just a few months, companies have evolved years. We’re now all early adopters, and our technology offerings are all the better for it. We’re pushing limits to compete and seeing solutions we wouldn’t have believed would be accepted, let alone requested. In fact, 59% of those surveyed by Owl Labs said they are more likely to choose an employer who offered remote work compared to those who didn’t. 2
As more statistics are coming out showing the success of remote work, we’re all realizing the resiliency of our workforces and a new mindset is forming. More and more people have accepted the reality that cutting-edge technology is worth the investment. Bold moves they were once resistant to in the past are now commonplace and expected.
What We’re Still Learning
Although everyone has some anticipation before starting a new job, in today’s bold new world, you can rest easy knowing that more employers are embracing the technology they need to stay competitive — in the eyes of their clients and their employees.
Plus, we’re all in the same boat. With little experience working remotely, building hybrid workspaces and onboarding teams from afar, there’s a learning curve for everyone; all you have to do is embrace it.
Remote Onboarding Tips
In collecting my thoughts for this article, I spoke with a few other Tech Data colleagues in our marketing division who also onboarded remotely and gathered a few words of advice.
For those exploring the thrills and challenges of digital onboarding, Greg Francis, Sr. Graphic Designer said, “You won’t always find the answers as easily as you would have onboarding on-site. So don’t be afraid to ask questions.” Savannah Nelson, Project Specialist, noted, “Since relationships are harder to build, reach out to colleagues more than you normally would and consider forming connections outside of work.”
As far as my parting thoughts to you, if you’re onboarding remotely for the first time in your career, remind yourself that you’re also the first of many to evolve to the next phase of the workplace. Have fun learning and forming new habits that are sure to pave the way for the future of others.
1 McKinsey Global Survey, October 2020.
2 Owl Labs 2020 Survey