Waving to colleagues in virtual meeting

I recently started a new job in a fully virtual role. At first, it was tough for me to adjust to a remote job, but with some guidance from my colleagues, I’ve discovered what it takes to succeed in a digital work environment.

Your organization probably has employees who are learning how to navigate a primarily digital role. With the right communication, you can help them quickly and easily acclimate to the virtual environment.

Here’s what I learned—and how you can use my learnings to create a great experience for first-time remote employees:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask for help
When I was learning the ropes, there were times I felt like I was sinking. But my colleagues couldn’t see me struggling through a computer screen, so I learned to speak up. Thanks to materials provided on my first day, I knew where to go for assistance.

Don’t let new employees waste time searching for answers to their questions. Here’s how you can make it easy for them to get help when they need it:

  • Include resources in onboarding materials such as key contacts, FAQs and links to regular communication.
  • Equip managers to support new employees. Create a “managing virtual employees” toolkit and include best practices like: 
    • Assigning a “buddy” to help new hires get up to speed
    • Scheduling weekly virtual check-ins so their new report can share what’s going well or if they’re having issues

2. Put in the effort to connect with colleagues
At first, trying to bond with my new co-workers felt awkward. How do you get to know someone through a screen? With time, I’ve discovered it’s possible to grow work relationships online—whether it’s sharing vacation pictures on Yammer or chatting about Netflix binges over Zoom.

Help employees break through the virtual barrier and start engaging with one another:

  • Set aside space on your social media channel for fun. Employees can share life updates, create polls, or post photos, videos or memes.
  • When creating meeting agendas, build in time for connection and casual conversation.

3. Support mental and physical well-being
At the start of my work from home journey, I found myself falling into a sedentary routine. With no commute, lunches with colleagues, or trips to the water cooler, I was working longer hours and not taking enough breaks. My mental and physical health began to suffer, and I knew I needed to focus more on my well-being.

Now, thanks to advice regularly provided by my employer, I take short screen breaks, keep healthy snacks on hand and take lunchtime walks. If I’m feeling down, I reach out to a trusted colleague.

Help employees put their health first with wellness communication that inspires them to take advantage of wellness benefits:

  • Focus on employees. Create a bi-monthly video series where colleagues share their wellness success stories.
  • Call out important deadlines. Highlight important dates so employees don’t miss out on valuable programs.
  • Keep it simple. Benefits terms can be complex; be sure to use clear language and cut the corporate health jargon.

If there is one thing that’s certain, it’s that the digital-first workplace is here to stay. Use my experience as inspiration to create informative, supportive and engaging communication for your virtual employees.

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