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The problem : Employee onboarding

Since the Covid pandemic hit, large global companies have been forced to move online, and the majority of their staff are required to work remotely. Normally new staff that are onboarded to the company would be introduced to their team in person as they would be walked around the office. New staff would normally create friendships and bonds by turning around to their colleague's desk, chatting at the water cooler, and simply by sharing things they have in common. However, now new employees onboarded to a company cannot create those informal bonds which were once possible due to the nature of remote working.

The opportunity

There is an opportunity to create a digital service in the form of an app to allow new employees hired during the pandemic to be onboarded into a company while also getting to know their colleagues on a more personal basis while working remotely.

​Targeted interviews

A series of ten initial interviews were carried out with a focus on newly employed people hired during the pandemic into larger corporate style companies. Interviews were carried out with social media marketers who were newly hired, people who worked in customer acquisitions who were also newly hired, a senior marketing manager, and human resource staff who manage the initial onboarding of new employees. The diagram below shows the type of roles that targeted and selected for interviews. 

Social media marketer 

1 month - 5 months in company

Customer acquisitions rep 

1 month - 5 months in company

Currently employed interviews

Human resource staff

6 years  in company

Senior marketing manager 

12 years in company

Newly employed interviews

Both groups were interviewed to see their opinions on working remotely. They were also interviewed about starting into a new company during the pandemic or their view on new employees starting into a new company during the pandemic.

Affinity mapping data from interviews


"I feel when working over Zoom its very official and there is no time to get to know people"

"A lot of my new colleagues seem quiet especially when on zoom"

"I'm not fully sure who is who on the zooms and I'm afraid to ask"

Persona & Journey map

Persona and journey maps were created for new employees after gathering research from the interviews. Below is one of these, which shows Alex a marketing consultant who is quite relaxed about his job due to working from home. These were created to get an understanding of the type of people the app was being designed for and how it could benefit them.

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Key Findings & Insights


Current staff view new staff as “us and them"

Newer staff don't always know what they are meant to do and don't always feel comfortable to ask because they would have to schedule a zoom call

Newer staff feel awkward when joining zoom and while on zooms with all of their colleagues or team


This makes new staff feel less wanted in the team and integration is harder. This could possibly lead to higher employee turnover as time goes on. Also, the current staff didn't have the opportunity to fully introduce themselves.

Newer staff don't want to make a big deal about something that may take a few seconds to explain. They also don't want to be seen as taking time from other colleagues to sort simple problems they may have

Newer staff don't know how people will react to their comments because they don't know them or have a sense what their personality is like, “will they judge me for what i say” They doubt themselves and don't contribute fully leading to less mentorship and opportunity to learn and be recognised

How might we   - 

get current employees to help onboard new employees when working remotely


The storyboard reads from left to right.


Storyboarding was used to develop the initial concept of the app and what features it would provide the user. The storyboard goes through how the user would use the app. 


Sitemapping / features

The site map shows an overall initial structure of how the app would be laid out and navigated through. Initially, the top five tabs would be their own scrolling pages, however, these were swapped with more prominent features such as employee profiles and schedules further on in the medium-fidelity prototype to give easier access to the user.

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Key features

Onboarding progress

New employees can see their onboarding progression into the company.

Employee structure

Meet & Greets

Employees can see their colleague's profiles and their role and structure within their team and company.

New employees can meet 1 to 1 with current employees through auto-scheduled virtual meet and greets on a once of basis to get to know each other.

Low fidelity prototyping, testing &  findings

Paper sketches were used initially to mock up the structure of the app. These were used for usability testing with 12 participants to gain feedback on possible confusing points and things that should be altered or changed. The user flow below shows the low fidelity sketches used for prototyping and the findings, insights, and recommendation received from the testing.

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Low fidelity feature testing

Feature testing was carried out to validate assumptions about how employee profiles would work when partnered with the meet and greet feature of the app and if employees would use profile information to create a discussion.

Two quick digital mock-ups of employee profiles were made for both a social media marketer who was in her position for 1 month and a customer acquisition rep who was in his position for 5 months.  Both participants were asked to have a meet and greet over zoom and were to discuss their profile and see what they had in common with each other.  

This would represent what new employees and current employees would do on a once off basis through the app to get to know each other. Feedback can be seen to the right of the profile mockup.

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Add a quick link gmail icon to profile page to quickly contact colleague via the link

Display when an employee completed their onboarding to show their experience in the company

Add a feature “when I started working I was worried about” section to profile ( eg. I was worried about asking people how to use the photocopier when I started because it seemed so basic) 

I felt reassured that I knew something about the person I was going to have a conversation with from their profile before I had to have the conversation



I think 1 to 1 conversation physically or virtual can be a little awkward because you don’t know what to discuss if you don’t know them. So I think having a profile to persuade conversation is a plus especially for first time encounters, once the profile isn't an exact copy of social media and it has some professionalism to it




Medium fidelity user flow

The medium-fidelity prototype was used to develop on the findings and insights from the low-fidelity user testing. The medium-fidelity prototype was also used to gather user feedback on pain points within the flow and UI of the app. The user flow below shows the medium-fidelity findings and insights and also shows the development of the onboarding within the app itself.

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The user flow below shows the high fidelity prototype. Key design decisions are labeled alongside each of the screens showing findings, insights, pain points, and changes made to each screen and the purpose of each screen within the prototype. 

High fidelity user flow

Medium fidelity - high fidelity key changes

The content below shows the development and changes made from the medium-fidelity

prototype to the high-fidelity prototype after user testing. Key pain points were highlighted in the user testing in the medium-fidelity prototypes and were worked on in the high-fidelity prototype



The style guide was created at the start of the development of the app and was influenced by other professional style applications and digital services.

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Cooler Talk video

Figma interactive prototype

Click on the QR code to access the interactive prototype

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What I learned

I realised a web-based platform would need to be developed to accompany the app, this would offer HR staff and managers more control when setting up teams and content for the app. This is a key piece of work I plan to develop for the project over the next few months.

Communicating ideas early and often goes hand in hand with iterations, testing and validation. From this project, I learned that the people I was testing with responded much quicker to interactive objects, if it was paper prototypes or storyboarded scenarios. Verbal explanations are not enough.

The option to integrate data from another existing platform such as Microsoft and Google accounts gives the user a more streamlined experience when setting up the app.

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