Helping Microsoft rapidly pivot to virtual global onboarding


The Oxygen team worked with Microsoft to re-design classroom seller onboarding away from a presentation-heavy approach toward immersive experiential learning. Then the coronavirus pandemic struck. Training could no longer take place in person, and the scheduled training dates could not be adjusted since the new seller cohorts were already hired.

The team pivoted mid-project to rapidly re-imagine, design, develop, produce, and deliver a virtual onboarding experience that retained an experiential approach and could be deployed globally without shifting the scheduled training dates.

This pivot presented multiple challenges:


Microsoft determined sellers needed more than information-dense presentations to ramp successfully into their roles: they needed to engage with key content through exploration and practice. The desired outcome was that re-design of classroom onboarding would result in higher readiness impact ratings which translate to better and faster quota achievement. The acceleration to seller ramp-up was even more important because Microsoft’s clients were in the midst of their own responses to the pandemic and needed immediate support to help them navigate the transition with new solutions.

The virtual onboarding experience garnered a 15% increase in average satisfaction and readiness impact. New sellers were impressed by Microsoft’s ability to provide effective practical training in spite of the limitations and challenges brought on by the pandemic. The model was so successful that it was immediately adopted for onboarding of a different sellers’ group.

I want partners who are willing to invent with me, be wrong with me, figure it out with me, and co-create with me. Oxygen was there every step of the way. Through some of the first interactions with Oxygen, I realized they were partners in invention, and we could invent cool things together.
Stacey Gardner, Onboarding Learning Experience Architect

Our Approach:

Our client recognized the chance to accelerate the shift from content-heavy presentations towards a more experiential approach because of the disruption inherent in moving to virtual delivery. Rather than scaling down our experiential ideas, we doubled down on ways to combine important content with equally important interactive strategies.

The Oxygen team took a reality-based approach to the design: 40+ hours of linear presentation content will not be effective in a virtual delivery. No one will learn much. The structure we created with the client offered a week of general onboarding followed by a week of deeper dives into role-specific content:

  • Each day built upon the previous day’s learning and practice to reinforce established concepts and move organically into new ones
  • Self-guided homework assignments prepared sellers for the next day’s learning
  • We curated key concepts for delivery in 90-120 minute facilitated sessions at the start of each learning day
  • Each general session was followed by subject matter expert presentations to explore concepts more deeply. We worked with the presenters to help them create opportunities within their existing content for increased interactivity and engagement
  • We utilized a variety of virtual learning tools and platforms (Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Whiteboard, Flipgrid, Klaxoon, and ThoughtExchange) to create activity options including learner-recorded videos, group brainstorming, real-time discussion, asynchronous discussion threads, and live quizzes
  • We combined information and skills practice so that sellers had daily opportunities to apply the learning.