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How USAA Leverages Async Collaboration for Inclusive Workshops

Written by 
Nicole Smith
 and 
  —  
February 22, 2022

Employee onboarding is a key opportunity to welcome, inspire, and educate new hires. As an organization dedicated to continued evaluation and improvement of the onboarding process, USAA decided to reimagine employee orientation with a focus on innovation — all while keeping inclusion and accessibility top of mind.

“We had to figure out how to continue to serve our employees in a hybrid, rapidly changing world,” Corinne Mayans, USAA’s Director of Design for Workforce Experience explains. “At USAA we have a ‘Together, Anywhere’ perspective so we were excited to design a workshop to reimagine new employee orientation in a way that allowed us to practice what we preach. That’s why we reimagined the experience with an async approach.” 

Here’s how Corinne and the Workforce Experience team set out to build a modern, inclusive onboarding experience that anchored on an async workshop with MURAL.

Designing an engaging, inclusive async workshop

The two-week workshop used MURAL’s digital canvas as the shared space for ideation, learning, and task management. Corinne’s team designed thoughtful murals for the workshop phases that included clear instructions and activities for everyone to join and engage with on their own time — Slack reminders and pre-recorded videos helped make everyone comfortable, even with no visual collaboration experience.

Corinne’s team attributes async success to clear direction and consistent communication around the workshop activities. Activities included brainstorming ideas, clustering them into themes, and voting in the mural to achieve consensus.

The MURAL templates created for the workshop also include an accountability checklist to visualize engagement and help flag anyone who might need extra support throughout onboarding. Each week concluded with a live alignment meeting, which the team notes was extremely efficient since so much had been covered asynchronously. 

How to start creating your own async success

USAA’s Workforce Experience team will continue to use this async-first approach for the foreseeable future. “It was incredibly successful. We’re actually getting a lot of requests for more workshops like this,” Corinne notes. “We’re really proud of the benefits we’ve seen and we’re moving this program forward in full-force.” 

For other teams looking to create more async collaboration, Corinne suggests focusing on the positive benefits you want to achieve. Going into this project, the team knew this approach was important for navigating busy calendars. They understood that having less synchronous meetings would better accommodate time zones, different teams, and executive schedules.

👉 Try this template for partially or fully async workshops

Most importantly, the team is incredibly excited about the impact this design has had on accessibility and inclusion. This approach allowed participants to move beyond what they may have normally felt comfortable contributing in a live workshop. The team created a space where everyone could be heard, rather than just the loudest voice in the room.

“There’s something special about async work — it levels the playing field,” Corinne concludes.

About the author

About the authors

Nicole Smith

Team Lead — Customer Marketing
Team Lead — Customer Marketing @ MURAL. Previously @ Salesforce. Passionate about integrated programs, customer lifecycle, advocacy marketing, community building, and rescue dogs.