Blog 6.5.2020

How to do virtual onboarding?

Good to see you here! We have no doubt this post has good information, but please keep in mind that it is over 4 years old.

When spontaneous interactions are missing – how do you build your network and start feeling like a part of the culture?

Face-to-face onboarding has been a cornerstone for our onboarding process. Since the pandemia prohibited group gatherings and social contact, we needed to adapt. In this blog we share our ideas and experiences about the first weeks of our first online onboarding experience. This is just a piece in a bigger picture, as we see employee engagement as an active process that happens over the first year.

The responsibility of a new employee’s onboarding process is divided into two roles: a People Person is the legal superior and is responsible for of all employment-related matter. A Culture Coach takes care of the induction and facilitates the fit to culture. These roles are additional responsibilities and employees in these roles also work as consultants.

We both work as Culture Coaches in Helsinki but our major responsibilities are in marketing and communications. The main reason we both applied for the role was the fact we wanted to contribute on our culture and communality by creating a warm atmosphere for new Goforeans, and also just to getting to know our new colleagues in Helsinki. Along with us there is a team of Culture Coaches who all are inspiring, joyful and just great to work with.

The goal of the first day is to provide the knowledge on how to continue on the following day

There is the step that isn’t possible done remotely: new employees should pick up their laptops from the office. The reason behind this doesn’t have anything to do e.g. with shipping – just the first sign in to the main systems have to be done in our internal network.

When we organised the first online onboarding, the employees arrived one by one, so all human contacts were minimized. At the office the employee got their laptop, mobile phone and a backpack to carry everything back home.

Usually on the first day, the new employees are taken for a company paid, group lunch. To keep up the good practice employees were given an option to pick up food from a local restaurant to enjoy at home during the induction video call.

The induction was held via a video call, using Teams. With the new employees, People Person and Culture Coaches were present. Naturally, we started the call with introductions and getting to know each other. The rest of the afternoon was divided into two sections: how to use the important daily tools and what is the Gofore culture. After the induction session, the new employee should be ready to start their daily work.

During the first week keep in touch and take time to learn new routines

During this remote working time we make sure that the new employees have all the working equipment they need. All employees can borrow desks, monitors or chairs from the office, and Gofore offers transportation. Gofore offers multiple different options on work-life balance support like a possibility to work part-time (read more in Finnish).

We schedule daily virtual calls to the new employees. During the first weeks, the new employee’s morning starts with a coffee break call with other new employees, Culture Coaches and People Persons. This gives an opportunity to ask questions, meet new people and build relationships. The call does not have to have a clear agenda – the time can be reserved for a casual chat.

In addition to group calls the new employees can be matched with other experts. During the first days, new employees get to know their People Persons but they can also have casual calls with sales, resourcing, recruiting and other experts. These calls replace some of the informal conversations that a person usually has at the office.

After a few weeks, we asked feedback on the coffee break calls. They were well-liked and seen as a great habit to continue.

During the first month take small steps and grow understanding the culture and terms of doing 

Usually during the first weeks project work starts and calendars fill up quite quickly. After the first week, our onboarding process is divided in weekly sessions, so the new employee has time to adapt to their new schedule, routines and culture. The themes of the onboarding sessions are based on research – last year we asked our new employees what information they thought was beneficial for them. The five themes are:

  • Tea time with a founder who tells the story of Gofore.
  • Math, money and sales help to understand how our sales work and how you can participate.
  • Professional development offers ways of creating personal career path.
  • Working as a consultant tells our philosophy and ways of working with customers.
  • Internal & external communications helps to find your voice and communicate in our network.
  • Daily decision making gives guidelines on how to make decisions in a self-driven organisation.

The virtual sessions were planned to be educational but also interactive. The presenters are usually from the administration and top experts on their field. This helps the new employees grow their network inside the company. After the onboarding sessions, new employees can keep participating in different trainings as they see fit in their schedule and personal development.

How could we do better? 

We ask feedback from during and after the onboarding. The process is updated constantly to match the changing environment and needs.  We would love to hear your thoughts on our onboarding process – how you have organised it during these extraordinary times?


The Gofore Crew

Elina Hulkkonen

Elina is a marketing and project management expert, who can create strategies, concepts, development plans and engaging content. She has an eye for aesthetics and is a talented designer. Elina is passionate about service design and organisational culture renewal, and believes that open communication and empathy are the keys to great a customer and employee experience. In addition to her other responsibilities, she promotes more open and equal community at Gofore as a culture coach.

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