Remote working has gone into overdrive in recent months, but onboarding new staff has its challenges. Here's a guide to getting your new hire started.
It’s safe to say that, when it comes to remote working, the genie is out of the bottle. Like several trends, remote working has been accelerated this year in the wake of Covid-19. It’s also worth noting that many employees prefer to work remotely, with the most popular option being a hybrid of on-site and in-office.
It’s a potential win-win for everyone, with 77% of remote employees saying they’re more productive when working from home and employers saving money on premises and utilities, while also broadening the net geographically in the search for staff.
However, every new trend brings new challenges, and this is no exception. Onboarding is naturally more difficult when a candidate isn’t on site, and effective onboarding is vital for all parties.
A worrying 30% of staff leave a new job within 3 months. And, unsurprisingly, onboarding is a factor in whether they stay or not. In fact, 69% of employees will stay with a company for three years if they have a great onboarding experience.
Checklists are handy at any time, but they’re invaluable in the early stages of of a colleague’s tenure. Here are a few things to consider for the first days (and even the days leading up to it).
Structure and clarity are important for employees regardless of whether they’re working remotely, but it’s even more vital if they don’t have the anchor of a centralized office.
Here’s how to draw up the ideal first day:
It’s easy to underestimate the difference between onboarding remotely and on-site. The key difference is that new hires find it harder to ask questions: Instead of turning to a colleague (or leaning over a partition), they have to send an email or instant message.
Questions from new staff can be time-consuming, but they also reflect an interest in the work and an eagerness to learn. Take into account that you’ll be receiving more emails and instant messages than usual on a colleague’s first few days. If your week is filled with meetings, delegate a colleague to be available to help too. Speaking of which…
If possible, it’s a great idea to assign a “buddy” or a mentor to the new hire, someone who’ll be working on the same team and can show them the ropes. They might even be working on a low-key, low-stakes project from the first day to show the processes, demands and company culture.
Working remotely can be lonely and some staff benefit from structure and communications. A quick check-in whenever possible is a good idea. This could be as simple as an IM at the start or end of each day, or a call every couple of days.
Not only is remote working occasionally lonely, but it can be tricky sometimes for new hires to know how they’re doing. A short, reassuring call addresses these issues directly.
Several major companies, including Dropbox, Microsoft, Twitter, Facebook and many more, are developing long-term strategies for remote working. This includes baking in flexible hours, remote working resources and more into its culture and framework.
Other companies are pulling out of major office-space commitments because of remote working, with major cities changing shape and purpose as the exodus begins. Perhaps most famously, San Francisco is bracing for a remote working “exodus”.
So what do remote working long-term plans look like? It would include:
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