The first year of the new decade brought significant changes in the way people work, live and dream of the future. Starting with a pandemic, remote work has been established as a viable solution to keep economies afloat. Preliminary studies show that the number of teleworkers has tripled in both the US and the EU in the first 4-6 months of 2020, compared to 2019.
As people try to build a new normal, entrepreneurs, corporate leaders and human resources experts are beginning to redesign how hybrid teams (remote locations) operate for greater efficiency and responsibility. To maintain a positive balance between the pros and cons of remote work, corporate logistics, systems and strategies need to support and adapt to this transition.
Boarding welcoming, training and orienting new hires – is one of the processes with a critical impact on a company culture, employee retention and competitive advantage.
It represents a valuable time frame for aligning strategies and expectations and for building trust and empowerment. An efficient boarding process represents the foundation for a healthy working relationship and happy, productive employees.
With brick-and-mortar headquarters no longer the focus of the (first) business day, a successful boarding requires flexible tactics to bridge the real, physical gap and a leap of faith to trust employees and treat them as partners. .
Although the control frames of a boarding plan may look similar on their own and from a distance, it takes creativity and flexibility to ensure the smooth integration of new hires into a remote environment.
The boarding plan:
There are three main areas of focus for a successful boarding plan: bureaucracy & logistics, professional context, and personal well-being. All of these must be taken into account, with all their respective implications and inherent challenges. Many leaders mistakenly expect boarding to be a one-day process. This is a limited view, with negative consequences for morale and business success.
As the following 9 tips will describe in detail, boarding is an ongoing process that begins immediately after the employment contract is signed. When done correctly, boarding will be seamlessly integrated into your daily work routine over a period of 2 weeks to 3 months, depending on the complexity of the company position and size.
Having an integration framework for bulk integration can help streamline repetitive tasks while ensuring that all information and resources are readily available. This should serve as a starting point for flexible, adaptive strategies that meet individual needs and ensure consistent and long-term positive results.
9 tips for smooth acclimatization:
As with all human relationships, boarding is not and should not be stone-built. With remote integration, especially where the line between work and personal life is at its most vulnerable, boarding should take into account individual factors and personal context.
The following list is not intended to be exhaustive, but it does consider some of the most important aspects of logistics, professional and personal survival. There is a red thread that runs through all of the following ideas: principles are scary and uncomfortable for everyone.
Take out the papers before the first day
No one enjoys bureaucracy, filling out forms and signing piles of papers on the first day of work. Remote operation may cause printing / scanning difficulties. As there is little innovation in this part of the process, it can be addressed in the early stages of employment, sometimes even before the first day of work.
HR teams need to work with management and compliance to make sure they use pre-boarding to give new employees enough time to deal with the tedious bureaucracy. A complete collection of documents, instructions and frequently asked questions will make the process run smoothly.
Remote work causes another long-standing practice of companies everywhere: the printed document. Creating a secure online environment and using an online signature tool will make the process safer and easier for all participants.
Make sure the installation is complete and running smoothly
While a missing password or a faulty keyboard can be a fun way to take a break and hang out on the first day at the office, tech challenges can be frustrating for no reason when talking about remote work.
A complete hardware and software setup is the key to an excellent first impression and the employee’s composure. Work with IT to set up all accounts, toolbars, and configurations before the first day of work. Include basic troubleshooting instructions and contact information, as well as links to helpful resources and advanced information.
A company’s architecture and IT environment are as sensitive as they are vital to a good job. Keep the employee informed of risks and good practices in a simple and accessible manner and have at least one reporting channel readily available for any issues that may arise.
Make correct imports
The handshake and the tour of the offices for official admissions are part of the very good boarding reception. In a remote environment, an introductory email and chat channel on a corporate chat platform can help break the ice.
Use multimedia tools and import inputs to make them more fun and less clumsy. Curious questions about personal preferences can balance professional, cold and distant first contact. Assigning a mentor or boarding friend can reduce stress while providing a much needed contact node.
Relational integration will allow the team to integrate new employees faster, with significant positive morale and productivity outcomes. Interoperable introductions help to manage workflow, disconnect the internal functions of a new workplace and reduce preventive stress.
Set clear expectations and monitor progress
A job description is very narrow, long and detailed. Leaving the new hire to figure things out on their own is the other frustrating tip, especially from a distance. Find the middle ground by creating a two-week plan that highlights important milestones. This is a great opportunity to clarify and reinforce what a working day should be like for a remote employee, how progress is measured and what are the specific success indicators that management is aiming for.
Such an action plan should include logistical aspects (such as documents and IT&C regulation), as well as work-related tasks. Schedule group meetings to cover current projects and assign tasks within a group should consider new hires. Prioritize actual work over theoretical employability to ensure that new employees are installed in their positions efficiently and with a sense of purpose.
A manager’s commitment to specific check-in points keeps employees accountable, dedicated and excited. Celebrate success and update the plan as needed, with a flexible portion of support strategies and increasingly complex challenges. This will boost confidence and increase new team members faster.
Reinforce the importance of corporate culture
Being on the same page about values, mission and vision has never been more important. In a remote environment, where employees may feel disconnected and aimless, this is even more true. Start small but small, focusing on how each individual action contributes to the company’s mission and success.
Training materials, related policies and the company code of conduct are useful documents and should be available as soon as possible. However, with action and continued commitment, an open, transparent, supportive culture becomes apparent.
Diversity, experimentation and autonomy are important aspects to consider as companies decide where to invest their cultural development efforts. A flexible, agile and flexible way of transmitting cultural values and proof of commitment from the early stages of boarding is the key to continued success, both for individual employees and for the company as a whole.
Ask for feedback and encourage open communication
The misconception of boarding as a one-way learning process can prove detrimental to the long-term health of working relationships. Leaders must also seize the opportunity to learn and grow. For this, it is vital to use onboarding to create a welcoming space for questions, honest feedback and open communication.
This can be done at regular check-in, via email or a corporate communication channel. It is important, however, to remember that a highly structured feedback process can prevent people from getting involved. This is why managers and supervisors should allow time in their schedules for one-on-one discussions or even face-to-face meetings, if they are helpful and appropriate.
Adding a personal touch to the communication loop and closing the feedback loop can reassure new employees that their struggles are valid and important. Timely answering or escalating questions and issues enhances trust, cooperation and empowerment.
Set an example to promote a healthy work-life balance
A major challenge of working remotely is a healthy work-life balance. Adjusting the tone from the beginning can help you avoid exhaustion and increase productivity. Managers need to take advantage of boarding time to train and encourage new employees to pay attention to both their well-being and their job responsibilities.
Technology, psychology and awareness strategies can work to minimize distractions when working remotely. However, it is important that these behaviors are incorporated by senior team members and supported by company policies. The boarding period is the best time to walk in and demonstrate the company’s health and safety strategies and promote any remote work bonuses and benefits.
Teaching new employees to take ownership of their programs can have a positive long-term impact on team productivity and corporate results. This can translate into a strict no-work policy at night and weekends or a flexible performance app based on high scores rather than on-screen time.
Adapting to remote work, even in the best of times, can be challenging. Strengthening a strong team and promoting collaboration (even from a distance) can serve as a catalyst for effective boarding and overall team success.
One of the dangers of remote work is the disconnection that results from solitary work, which can erode even the most self-sufficient worker. The team’s exclusive time – whether for brainstorming or, most importantly, for makeshift coffee breaks through Zoom – is important and should be prioritized accordingly.
Celebrating success and managing failure as a team, rather than as individuals, physically but not emotionally, can make the difference in flexibility, resilience, and performance.
Strengthen connection and vulnerability
Everyday challenges can feel overwhelming when employees have to deal with them on their own, from limiting their living room to an office. To avoid this disconnection, encourage open and honest conversations about work and personal struggles.
Leaders can cultivate a transparent environment without crises, where people are welcomed with their strengths, but also their weaknesses, their successes, but also their struggles. This allows individuals to take ownership of their personal and professional lives, enjoy common ground and strive to do better.
His sense of belonging, not only as members of the group, but as individuals translates into stronger bonds and more important human interactions. These can be the foundation of long-term commitment, albeit beyond integration.
In a world of digital transformation, people crave connection. Onboarding is the first formal contact between employer and employee and a valuable opportunity for such a connection. Despite the check boxes that need to be noted, this is an opportunity for individuals to come together, find common ground and fully commit to a valuable relationship.
The pandemic exposed paper-based, life-focused office work for what it was: an outdated, rigid and slow system. Knowledge employees are at the forefront of significant changes in the way we work and successful companies will be able to embrace and take advantage of these changes.
The secret lies in the transparent and flexible digital processes, in a culture of trust and accountability and in the flexibility and resilience of all parties involved. It is an act of balancing and a leap of faith, with a steep learning curve, but wonderful opportunities.
Bonus strategies to keep the integration process fun:
Integration is a lot to learn and the amount of information to which employees are exposed can feel overwhelming. Here are some helpful ideas with digital capability to make the process more interactive, fun and efficient.
Design programs based on experience make learning important and allow employees to adjust their pace and enjoy the exciting real results of their efforts faster.
Use microfinance to allocate the right resources at the right time, thus avoiding information overload and empowering weird, solution-oriented employees.
Create loyalty and recognition through gamification, a successful way to promote healthy competition and better information retention.
This is a guest post from Anita Sambol:
Με πολυετή εμπειρία ως στρατηγός περιεχομένου και δημιουργός, η Anita έχει «υπερδύναμη» ότι είναι μια καθαρή ανθρώπινη φωνή για μάρκες όταν μιλάει στο κοινό τους. Ένα από τα έργα που αυτή τη στιγμή απολαμβάνει περισσότερο είναι να είναι συνεργάτης περιεχομένου στο EU Business School, όπου γράφει εκπαίδευση των επιχειρήσεων, μαθητική ζωή και διαδικτυακή μάθηση.