The world is in the middle of the biggest global pandemic we’ve seen in our lifetime. Our response to COVID-19 has meant the closure of non-essential businesses, the economics of which are leading us to what could be the next big global recession. It’s important to recognize and thank the front line workers who are putting their heart and soul into fighting COVID19 and who are providing protection, support, and aid to those who need it.

Aside from front line services, there are many companies that must continue operating and hiring during COVID-19. For example, Amazon is increasing its workforce by 100,000, and there’s an abundance of grocery stores that have put call outs for new employees to help them cope with the demand for produce. Many tech companies are in the same position and have the advantage of being tech-enabled from the start. But what about new hires in this age? How can we best support them in virtual onboarding and engaging with an organization’s culture while working from home solo?

I started at Lumen5 as VP of Marketing on March 16th, right when COVID-19 sent North America into a tailspin. Virtual onboarding quickly became our ‘new normal’ around here, and looking back on the last few weeks there are best practices I can share to help any company that may be in a similar position.

Create a Virtual Office

As the Lumen5 team socially distances, isolates, and quarantines, it’s easy for community and engagement to slip away. From an onboarding perspective, that can create barriers. This is why we’ve created our own virtual office via Sococo, a company founded to research, develop and bring to market fundamental solutions to the challenge of creating a better workplace for millions of workers worldwide.

In Sococo, we each have our team working areas, and there’s a real sense of community. For example, if you fancy taking five, why not hang out in the Rosé Lounge and virtually chat with your colleagues? Or if you need to be heads down and focus, lock the virtual door to the Espresso Meeting Room and set your status to busy. For team meetings, we can all group together in the East Van Boardroom and communicate with each other on a video call via the Sococo platform.

The virtual office has given valuable insight into how the Lumen5 office runs on a day-to-day basis while allowing me to communicate and engage with the team as I would if we were in our physical office together.

Invest Time in Discovering Working Styles

Joining a new team and getting to know each individual’s working style doesn’t seem like a savvy time investment in the midst of a global crisis, but dedicating time to educate myself on different working styles, patterns, and colleague’s needs is already paying dividends.

While I struggle with missing out on body language and tonal cues because we can’t have conversations in person, our onboarding process and use of Notion, fills in some of these gaps by allowing for an all-in-one workplace tool allowing us to write, plan, and get organized. A key component of the Lumen5 virtual onboarding process is to familiarize ourselves with each team members’ ‘Instruction Manual’ — a document that we keep in Notion that outlines each employee’s daily and weekly rhythms, feedback and work styles.

Discovering who needs actionable and direct feedback, who prefers to work in the evening, and who bulk schedules their meetings allows me to coach on a more individual basis, getting the best results out of people. Ensuring our team feels supported and understood is important now more than ever, as we navigate the uncertainty of this pandemic.

Condense the Process

Understand that the new circumstances we are all in requires a new approach, and what was reasonable four weeks ago is now out of reach for most teams. It was incredibly helpful that Lumen5 streamlined the onboarding process for me and focused on the ‘must-dos’ instead of the ‘nice-to-dos’.

Any tasks that might distract or impede a new hire were omitted, and as such, we’ve created an onboarding process that is efficient, pragmatic, and doesn’t overwhelm new team members. From my perspective, having more realistic deliverables has made the virtual onboarding process less stressful (very handy in today’s climate) and as a result, more productive.

Embrace these three steps to make the virtual onboarding experience effortless, effective, and memorable. If you want to see what the process is like for yourself, head on over to Lumen5 because we’re currently hiring. Hope to see you in the Rosé Lounge soon! Stay healthy.

Victor Tang is the VP of Marketing at Lumen5.