With 2021 Proxy/AGM season winding down there are many new Board members who are on boarding virtually.

What do we need to manage differently?

The recommendation to use the Guide to Board Orientation from the ICD hasn’t changed, however, a key part that is missing is the social interaction and relationship/trust building that often comes with pre-Board meeting dinners, in-person Onboarding meetings and the informal interactions that happen during Board meetings/AGMs.  A related white paper suggests a common approach is to have a pre-Board meeting video call with a purely social design with some built in ‘ice-breakers’.

Recently the Canadian Professional Sales Association had their Board Meeting/AGM and the evening before we had a pre-Board meeting video call that was purely a social gathering for onboarding.  This was a fun event that had a similar effect of a pre-Board meeting dinner.  Many boards also have a buddy system where new board members buddy up with current board members.  This can also continue albeit virtually.

“Remote Work Is The Future of Work” – Alexis Ohanian

Is Remote Work Here To Stay?

We can see the light at the end of the tunnel of the pandemic with active cases dropping and vaccination rates increasing.  So, do we just go back to the old ways in-person?  My impressions are that for Boards and many other organizations that a hybrid model will likely prevail.  With the prevalence of video conferencing, some Board members may opt for video conferencing even when travel and in-person meetings are possible.  Reasons can include cost, convenience, scheduling and possibly health concerns for those that have compromised immune systems.

So, virtual on boarding of new Board members is likely here to stay at some level.  The biggest missing piece is the social interaction and relationship/trust building.  Creative video conference events designed to fill this gap and Board buddies can help.  While welcome letters and warm welcome comments were already important, they are especially important when on boarding is done remotely.

Richard is a Board Director of the Canadian Professional Sales Association and as Board Secretary recently updated the onboarding approach for 2 new Board members who joined during the pandemic.




Richard Barber

Richard is a Sales, Marketing & Operations Executive with an MBA and an analytical-technical background which is a unique combination to help organizations create and execute growth strategy. Richard has served on 3 Boards since 2014 and currently serves on the Canadian Professional Sales Association including serving as Board Secretary. Richard also currently serves on the Board of Scientists In School, which is one of Canada’s largest Science Education charities for children in Kindergarten through Grade 8. Previously Richard served on a Toronto Chapter of the Boys & Girls Club including the role of Vice Chair (VP). Richards Committee Experience includes Human Resources & Governance, Board Nomination, Audit & Risk, Fundraising, and 2 Committee Chair roles for an additional charitable organization. Richard’s Executive Experience includes C-Suite Sales & Marketing, General Management, P&L, and Operations at Computershare, Rogers, Celestica, Nortel and IBM. In the role at Computershare, Richard led partnerships with both the Governance Professionals of Canada and the Institute of Corporate Directors.


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