As people get vaccinated, more and more companies are returning to work at a physical office location. Some businesses have adopted a hybrid model with part-time remote work and part-time in-office work.
As we return to normal, or a new normal, it is important to re-onboard those remote employees that were hired during the Covid-19 pandemic. These employees had a unique experience and while they still went through some sort of remote onboarding, transitioning to on-site work may be anxiety-provoking for them after a year of being home.
Your company has a responsibility to re-onboarding these remote employees for in-office work so they are comfortable and feel like true members of your team.
Here are some tips for giving those remote employees a positive onboarding experience that will guarantee retention and a positive corporate culture.
Transitions Can Be Hard For Everyone
While transitioning from remote work to in-office work may be especially hard for remote workers who were hired mid-pandemic, the transition will still be difficult for everyone on your team.
Covid-19 has changed the workplace and company culture may have shifted a bit in a virtual environment. Many members of the original team, and even tenured employees, may not be prepared for changes, too.
Remote team members might be overwhelmed in a new environment with so many coworkers to meet face-to-face, so leaders need to be understanding and empathetic. Managers will also have to adjust as the needs of remote hires may be different than the needs of employees who have been around for a while.
Attention to the impact of transition on each individual will be a crucial part of the re-onboarding process. Leaders who keep this knowledge at the forefront of their minds will help teams avoid burnout and adjust to change with ease.
Read More: Trends Driving the New Post-Pandemic Workplace
Create an Onboarding Checklist
You should create an onboarding checklist for re-onboarding remote employees to ensure that every step is met. This checklist will differ from the remote onboarding checklist because it will have more activities around team building and getting comfortable in the new environment, but they will also have a greater knowledge of operations than brand new employees.
Your onboarding checklist should also include check-ins and in-person meetings with each remote employee so they have time to ask questions. You can use these meetings to evaluate their progress on meeting goals while providing special attention to their transition.
Read our blog post The Importance of a New Employee Onboarding Checklist and How to Create One for more tips. However, the experience of those remote hires is special, so be sure to add the elements below to the mix.
Prepare the Environment
Before your entire teams return to the office, you should prepare the office environment for their arrival by making sure everything is clean and inviting. Add some elements of fun and excitement with decorations or small gifts for employees.
These small touches will help employees feel valued while getting them animated about being on-site. You should also prepare each employee's desk or area in advance with their necessary office supplies and onboarding packets. Include a name tag, copy of the employee handbook, company values, and office floor plan.
Remote employees will probably have already received a version of this information in their remote onboarding process, but you still want to ensure that they have all of the tools necessary to succeed in an in-office environment.
Before they even arrive on their first day on-site, make sure you send out an email with directions, parking information, and maybe a floorplan in advance. This will help them ease commute anxieties and ensure that they will be on time for their first day.
After you have prepared the environment for the remote employees' arrival, you should give them a tour of the office when they arrive. By showing them where the bathroom, coffee machine, water cooler, cafeteria, and other offices are, you will help them feel accustomed to their environment so they are comfortable moving around.
Team Building is Key
Team building is key in re-onboarding remote hires. Each remote employee was isolated in their own home and likely had limited interactions with co-workers, so they may be lacking a sense of community.
A good onboarding program will include ice breakers and chances for co-workers to get to know each other so they are comfortable working alongside together. Make some time for collaborative learning activities and informal bonding events. Set up an all-hands meeting that ends with a friendly competition or fun game to build a sense of camaraderie.
A buddy system will also be super beneficial for a remotely hired employee. Match up a remote employee with a tenured employee so they can learn from each other and build a strong relationship. The remote worker might have more knowledge of video conference software, while the long-term employee will know every corner of the office and day-to-day operations.
A buddy system will also help with role-specific training because re-onboarding employees may feel more comfortable asking questions when they have a mentor.
You should include a strong element of company communication practices and standards training in your re-onboarding sessions for remote employees. These workers are likely super comfortable with communication technology like Slack, Zoom, email, and Google Chat, but they are new to in-office communication tools.
Company communication culture may differ in an on-site environment when a message can be verbally passed on rather than emailed. Provide a training session for typical on-site communications and in-person meetings so office workers feel comfortable speaking up when they need to. This will ensure that no information is lost in communication hiccups.
Be Open to Feedback
The pandemic has given us all a new normal which has required constant readjustments and rethinking old processes. During the remote employee re-onboarding process, make some time for leaders to hear feedback from those remote employees.
These employees have had a special and unique experience in your company and they can offer valuable insights into your virtual recruiting and onboarding processes so you can make improvements for the future. Leaders can also make time for check-ins on how well the remote employees are assimilating into an on-site environment.
Regular feedback will build a more collaborative office environment for your company to adapt and grow with the world's new normal. Keep an open mind and be open to considering hybrid work models or easing into on-site work. Employees value flexible schedules and some may perform the best when working remotely.
Happy employees make a productive business so continue the training process while being open to learning from your remote workers, as well. Potential issues are bound to pop up, but with team insights, you will be more prepared to solve problems collaboratively.
There has also been a trend in employees quitting when the job returns to an on-site model, so your company should prepare for potentially losing some workers. Partnering with a staffing agency will help you attract top talent to replace who you've lost.
Read our blog post about Why Recruiting is the Best Business Strategy and check out our Recruitment Services to earn more.
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