Yesterday, Georgina wrote about how to induct new remote team members. I thought I’d take that a step further and compile a list of apps and tools that could be useful as you bring a new team member on board, particularly if you aren’t in the same location. Georgina emphasized the importance of providing your new recruit with access to systems and people as well as a proper explanation of your company’s internal process and culture. The applications can help to accomplish “onboarding” of virtual workers.
If you can’t make a presentation in person, explaining the ins and outs of your company and work process to a new team member, there are numerous effective multimedia tools that can help. Here’s a selection:
- Adobe Connect 8. Connect is a Flash-based enterprise web conferencing tool and supports high-resolution video and two-way voice calls. Read our review here.
- GoToMeeting, GoToWebinar, GoToTraining. Citrix offers a suite of web conferencing and online meeting tools, covering all the bases when it comes to training remote workers. We recently wrote about the company’s integrated HD videoconferencing.
- Mindflash. Use this application to create training materials and presentations. You can even embed quizzes into the training to make sure your new team member understands what they’ve learned. You can read our review here.
If you have a lot of documents to share with a new team member, here are some tools you can use that are far more efficient than email.
- Dropbox. Share a folder or nested folders containing important documents using a company Dropbox. We covered the launch of Dropbox 1.0 recently.
- Box.net. This enterprise-ready, cloud-based file sharing service allows remote workers to view and collaborate on files and access files both through web browsers or via mobile devices. We recently reported on its simplified UI here.
- Glasscubes. This virtual workspace also allows uploading, sharing, and downloading of files and documents as well as document approval. You could create a workspace just for onboarding new team members. Here’s a recent update of new features on Glasscubes.
Access to Others
Instant messaging is a great, in-the-moment way to reach out to a new worker or give them access to the rest of the team, especially as they are getting acclimated. But of course, nothing replaces the good old phone call or conference call. Here are a few popular IM and phone applications.
- Skype. Free conference calling plus video calls plus IM makes Skype a popular VoIP application. We’ve mentioned Skype in a number of recent articles about virtual work, including The Challenges of Being a Modern Employee, Working Together: How My Virtual Team Collaborates, and How to Recognize and Praise Remote Team Members, in addition to Georgina’s most recent piece.
- GTalk. If you’re already using Google Apps for your virtual team, new workers can have access to the rest of the team through the GTalk IM tool, and add voice or video as needed. And if you need to make a call for free and in a flash, there’s always Google Voice, which has extended free calls through 2011.
- VoxOx. VoxOx is an “all-in-one” solution that handles phone calls, IM, video chat, Skype messaging, conference calling, even incoming faxes. Check out our recent review.
- eVoice. This company offers a virtual phone number and virtual PBX system along with other useful call and messaging services. When you bring on a new team member, you can give them a “direct” line on your company’s virtual phone system and also use the eVoice conference call system for a welcome call between you, them, and the whole virtual team. I mentioned that my own virtual company was trying out eVoice in a post last April, and we’re still happy with the service.
Indoctrination Into Your Culture
No tool or app can provide a “magic bullet” to help you indoctrinate a new team member into an already-established company culture. It takes time and genuine effort on the part of everyone to bring a new worker into the fold. I recently suggested using virtual worlds such as Second Life to provide some of the feeling of a face-to-face meeting, and even as a way to socialize by the virtual watercooler. Even the effort of getting a new team member an avatar and helping them navigate a strange, 3-D world can be a team-building exercise and help a new worker feel welcome into your organization.
No matter what applications you choose, always keep in mind that the most effective way to bring a new team member on board to your virtual team is to keep the lines of communication open. Effective communication and training over the distance isn’t just about the tools you use, but more importantly the way you use those tools to make real connections and help your team members truly feel connected.
What tools do you use to bring a new virtual team member on board?