Virtual onboarding

In your first few days

Learn as much as you can

  •  Read all provided materials thoroughly and browse through any available Internal support documentation.This can help you gain an understanding of the company’s expectations and organizational culture when in-person, first-hand knowledge is unavailable. 
  • Ask your leader about their communication preferences (email, chat, phone call etc.). Unless the information required is time-sensitive, try to avoid sending your leader multiple emails. Instead, send one email with multiple questions at the end of the day, or write down non-urgent questions to ask during your next one-on-one meeting.
  • Think ahead! While some companies may provide new employees with an onboarding checklist, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your leader about what your goals should be for your first few weeks. If you weren’t provided with a formal checklist, jot down a few possible goals and use them to initiate a discussion with your leader about your priorities in your next one-on-one meeting.  
  • Seek out learning opportunities, but be mindful of others’ time. Unless your position would be remote regardless of COVID-19, your leader is likely dealing with new challenges as a result of the transition to remote work. Read any available online tutorials or HR-provided resources. Zapier’s remote work survival guide suggests browsing internal documentation beyond HR policies to better understand your company’s inner workings (i.e. looking at reports from past projects or reading through past conversations in your team’s communication channels).

Get to know your team

  • Ask a team member if they have 30 minutes to chat about their role, projects and priorities over a virtual coffee, or ask them what they wish they had known when they started. Asking intentional questions can help you better understand your company’s office culture.
  • Take the initiative to form social connections. Drop in to a virtual break room or participate in a virtual happy hour. If your company has set up channels for informal sharing, post something that will help your colleagues get to know you (i.e. "Post a photo of your pet!” or “What are your weekend plans?”).
  • (Re-)introduce yourself often. The Muse recommends saying your name and role, and mentioning that you’re new to the company when sending emails or joining video calls for the first few weeks. This will help others remember you. It also helps you by prompting others to reintroduce themselves in response. 

Demonstrate your value

  • Show your professional skills whenever possible. Many of the ideal traits that employers look for in remote employees are soft skill - communication, adaptability, collaboration and a willingness to problem-solve are sought-after skills in virtual environments. 
  • Make yourself visible! Although you might be doing great work, Forbes notes that it’s just as important to make sure that your efforts and accomplishments are visible to your leader and your team. Reach out to a colleague to ask for feedback on your work, seek out opportunities to contribute to your team’s projects and priorities, and ask your leader what markers of success they might look for in your position. 
  • Build trust with your team. Update your online status when you step away for a coffee or break, ask clarifying questions to better understand expectations, and share regular updates on your progress. Seeking opportunities for feedback from your peers can also be a great way to demonstrate your commitment to your position, your team and your organization. 

Essential attributes of an engineer

Be mindful of Engineers Canada's list of graduate attributes for accreditation. At your new position, remind yourself that these are the skills you're there to develop - even from a remote workplace.

  1. A knowledge base for engineering
  2. Problem analysis
  3. Investigation
  4. Design
  5. Use of engineering tools
  6. Individual and team work
  7. Communication skills
  8. Professionalism
  9. Impact of engineering on society and the environment
  10. Ethics and equity
  11. Economics and project management
  12. Lifelong learning

Head back to our student resources page for other topics on working remotely...

Related resources on virtual onboarding:

Before your first day

Resources and tips

After your first few days

Resources and tips