Initially, remote working or working from home (WFH) was something of a novelty; no morning rush, no nagging the kids to get out of bed, brush their teeth and hair, no school lunches to prep. It was a calm and quiet ease into each morning, and oh so productive.
Then the reality started to set in - constant interruptions, working from the bedroom with no proper desk set up, a dodgy WIFI connection and less than ideal vidcon experiences, and many people just weren’t liking it.
But in more recent weeks I’ve noticed the tide turning. I’m reading more and more about people and organisations that are considering this new way of life on a more permanent basis. WFH is starting to be viewed as a positive; less time and money spent on travel and parking, increased productivity, more life balance and of course that massive rent overhead could be completely gone!
This made me think about culture and how you create it and retain it, particularly when you’re not sitting next to one another every day. Those ‘water cooler’ conversations create networks and friendships and strong bonds. Being a recruiter, I’ve been particularly interested in how my candidates are going to be welcomed into their new roles remotely through this time. How do employers create that the all-important induction process so that it still has impact and meaning?
For me, this has always been such a critical part of the recruitment process. For me, recruitment doesn't end when that exceptional candidate has signed on the dotted line. The next vital step in the process is how my client is going to introduce their new person to the "family" so they quickly experience a sense of belonging and feel as though they’ve found their new home. It’s the start of a beautiful relationship, the warm fuzzies, and it sets the tone for your company’s culture. It feeds into your employee value proposition, and puts your new employee in the right head space. It creates that YES, they made the BEST decision of their life accepting this role with you.
Below are a few ideas I’ve seen that may help your new team member feel confident, cared about and valued if you’re onboarding remotely:
Before your new employee starts, send them a package of goodies to accompany their official documents. In this package could be some cool company merch, a branded notebook and pen, an induction guide, a values statement or simply a welcome card. One of our clients sends a mini bottle of bubbles and a snack for their new employee to bring to their first virtual Friyay drinks! This small gesture kicks off the warm fuzzies even before day one.
What’s the plan Stan?
Pop together an agenda covering the first couple of weeks so that your new team member has a roadmap to follow. Incorporate things like team meetings, 1:1 catch up’s, learning time, and daily check-ins. An agenda will help your new employee structure their day while they learn the rhythm of your business. Build in plenty of breaks in these early weeks as we all know how it feels to have information overload.
Meet the owner
If you’re the CEO or Founder, set aside 15 minutes to connect with your newest employee via vidcon - they’ll find this inspirational! This small gesture will provide your newest team member with a good understanding your company values, company goals, and any challenges ahead from a strategic perspective.
We are Family!
Let your team know you’ve hired someone new, what role they’ll play in the business, and when they’ll be starting. An all team Zoom meeting would be a great way to introduce your new team member - just as you would if you were throwing a welcome morning tea. If your team is smaller in size, tee up 15-minute individual conversations as part of your on-boarding process. This will help your new employee get to know your wider crew, understand each person's role, and how it fits into the organisation.
Pop together an org chart with your team’s photos, job titles, email address and phone numbers. Let's be honest, no one ever remembers everyone's name on their first day!
Like a boss
If you're the leader of your new hire, daily check ins and setting clear expectations during those first few days / weeks will help them to feel focused, contributing, and on track. Even the briefest of calls will help them feel connected and cared for.
Partner your newest team member up with a buddy; this person will be their ‘go to’ for all questions big or small. It’s important your new hire isn’t fretting about something minor when they don’t need to.
All things tech
When working remotely, the key to productivity are the tools to do the job! Do you have an 0800 number for tech support? Or a team member who is the ‘go to’ for all things tech related? Be sure your new team member has this person on speed dial - it's critical for them to have full connectivity while working remotely. And make plans to set them up ergonomically in their home environment with all the tech tools they’ll need for their role.
Include your new team member in all the fun and social things your team does. Maybe you are daily quiz enthusiasts, or perhaps you have a social committee? Do you have a Friday afternoon tipple? These rituals and get-togethers create opportunities to learn about one another outside of the roles everyone plays in the business. As your new team member finds their feet and starts to contribute, recognise and reward their success with team shout outs!
Do you have images (or better yet a video) of your office space? Share them with your new team member to give them a sense of your company culture and the vibe. When they do come into the office, it’ll feel like home already! We have one client who leaves a webcam on all day so their remote team members can see their team mates daily lives in the office.
An instant messaging platform with multiple channels (the Kin team use Slack) is a great way to stay connected outside of email and calls. As well as being useful for practical and admin functions, platforms like this are a fun way to share celebrations, challenges, jokes, birthdays, Netflix best picks and cute cat pictures!
Remote on-boarding can have its challenges but hopefully with these ideas you will feel more confident about creating a memorable experience for your newest employee.