Onboarding in a Hybrid World
Michelle Anderson, Human Resources Manager
2 August 2022
The week leading up to an employee’s first day can set the tone for the employment relationship. This leads to a number of questions that need to be answered to ensure a smooth transition to their new company. Have they received a link to all their new hire documents? Do they know the agenda for their first day? What time should they arrive, and will they have the correct I-9 documentation? Should they bring a lunch, or will they be taken out by members of their new team? Starting a new job can be stressful and full of unknowns, but if you take the time to address those simple but important questions, the new employee will see that you are already putting the work into making them feel comfortable.
In the new hybrid or remote world, half the team is only in the office a couple of days per week, if at all. What happens when half the new team is remote or the employee lives three hours away? We have found that having an employee come in for their first day does make for a positive experience for everyone. They have a desk with a name plate among their coworkers, which immediately makes them feel like a part of the company, even if they only come in one day a week. When we gather a small group of people to take them to lunch and get to know them, it makes it easier for them to come into the office and learn where to find certain people.
Being a remote employee does not mean that you are going to become increasingly disconnected from the rest of the company. Some people thrive in a remote environment and have no problem meeting everyone virtually. I have several employees I’ve never met in-person and actually find it easier to just call them through Teams whenever needed, because that’s the relationship we have. I am not going to wait until they are in the office tomorrow just to have a face-to-face conversation with them when I can have a virtual conversation right now! With secure technology, onboarding employees is not much different virtually than in-person. You can share screens, view a presentation and pre-record training so it’s both standardized and customized for each new employee. Technology allows for a more efficient use of time for all involved.
The most important thing you want to accomplish in your onboarding is making sure the employees know where to get their questions answered. Make sure they have met with a member from key departments, such as IT and HR, as well as members of their own department. I find it’s helpful to have a point person who they know they can reach out to anytime. We understand they can’t be expected to remember everything they were told during their first couple of weeks. Having this designated point person allows them to always know where to go.
At one point or another, whether it was a first job or a recent change within a long and successful career, we’ve all been the new person in a company. We all know it can be difficult finding your place within an established firm, so the next time someone knocks on your door or sends you an email with a simple question, please think twice before brushing them aside because you have too many things on your plate. The few minutes you take can make a lasting impression on a new employee and send them off with a positive message that they just may wind up passing along to someone else on the future.