Virtual On-Boarding: Adjusting Expectations

by Cassie Pastor, programs coordinator, OKCNP

Every single person who has ever started a new job has mixed emotions in their gut ranging from anticipation to pure panic. You think to yourself, I survived the in-person interview(s) and completed orientation, now all that is left is getting into the building to get going. You start by doing an extravagant interior design of your work space in your head, wondering if it’s a cubicle, huge office or tiny closet space. Will they let you decorate it the way you want or will you be surrounded by depressing white walls? What if you end up hating the individual you share your office with? Now, stop it! Throw all of those cluttered anxious thoughts out of your head and picture this instead: virtual onboarding.

You get hired during a pandemic that causes the world to socially shut down! You aren’t able to step foot in the office to meet your co-workers, decorate your space or even work due to fear of being infected. Your new career has started completely virtually. Forget having nerves on that first day in the office when you have to go on a scavenger hunt to find the bathroom or breakroom. Instead, it’s the all too familiar path to your own kitchen and bathroom. That goal of settling into a work routine or office report? Not going to happen. In reality, no one knows if you are working or not – as long as it shows that you’re ‘Available’ on an app – which is all too tempting for many.

I am an extroverted person, so I love to insert myself into social situations, but it is difficult to accomplish this virtually. Not ‘seeing’ my co-workers in the flesh everyday makes me feel marginally integrated with my new work family. Being unable to just pop into someone’s office to say “hi” or have a therapy session makes it difficult to truly build relationships with my co-workers. Virtually, we see each other every other day in meetings, and a few of us mess around in the chat feature on Zoom to lighten the mood. But it’s more satisfying to have a physical conversation in the same room. Smiling smirks on mute is not the same as laughing out loud, so the comical nature of it all is sincerely felt rather than implied.

Being onboarded virtually feels like I have missed a deserved “rite of passage” of being hired. However, even with its challenges, working from home as a brand new employee has also been beneficial. By being virtually onboarded, I eased into my responsibilities and been able to build a handful of key relationships through constant chatting. I have unveiled the infectious personalities of my closest cohorts and been able to share my personality more freely because the social stakes are lower virtually. I haven’t had to wear “work clothes,” do my hair or makeup to the extent I would going into the actual office for months because of virtual work. This enables less stress in the morning – and I don’t have to worry about traffic either. All I have to do every day is wake up and turn my computer on – Boom, I’m good! Being onboarded virtually has been an experience with all kinds of perspectives that vary each day. However, I feel lucky, because my new coworkers act as a genuine family and imbue me with the feeling that the Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits will make me better in every manner – virtually and not.

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