The sun is shining, spring has officially sprung, and we have made it to the first anniversary of when the entire world got turned upside down and we headed home to work remotely for “two weeks”. Before the pandemic, only 7% of employees reported that they had access to a “flexible” or remote workplace option. Now, more than 57% of employees are working from home and it doesn’t seem like that is going to change anytime soon; 2 out of 5 people currently operating remotely are expected to continue doing so through the end of 2021.
If your team is a part of this statistic, it’s likely that at some point throughout your remote period, you will need to bring on new team members (or bring back existing colleagues) into a virtual office. That means no more welcome chats by the water cooler or awkward in-person introductions at the copy machine; now, we have to welcome in new hires through Zoom breakout calls and Hangouts messages.
And since hiring is only half the battle, we need to create a welcoming environment that is going to make the new employees feel like they are set up for long-term success. Mastering this step is crucial in retaining new hires and though it may seem like a daunting task (especially if you haven’t brought anyone new on since the start of the pandemic), we have some ideas that should help you adjust to match the times.
Assign a Welcome Mentor or Buddy
One of the most nerve-racking things about starting a new job is being the newbie in a room full of people who are already well-acquainted with one another. And when you join a team remotely, introducing yourself without the typical office structure can feel more like a stressful chore than an exciting first-week activity. To make this easier on new hires, why not assign them a point of contact within their team to help them acclimate?
This could be a senior member of the crew or even a newer coworker who experienced a similar onboarding process. Whatever the situation, having someone that a new employee can go to throughout their first few months can provide them with the proper guidance to set them up for success. And this practice has proven to be worth the hype; 9 out of 10 workers who have a mentor report being happy with their jobs and feel that they make meaningful contributions at work because of this.
Set Up Short Introductory Meetings With Team Heads
Cultivating good relationships at work is extremely important since you spend the majority of your day interacting with your coworkers. But if you’re working remotely, how are you supposed to meet them? In a virtual environment, you don’t get the chance to organically interact with these individuals as you normally would in a typical office setting. To combat this, have team leads set up one-on-one meetings with the new hire over their first few weeks. This will allow them to put a face to any names they have been hearing and will get them acquainted with each department’s function right from the start. This also allows them to learn more about their colleagues’ roles, opening the door for proper collaboration later on.
Schedule Team Lunches
One way that we used to be able to get acquainted with new hires is by taking them out for the customary first-day lunch; everyone sits down and asks them all the fun questions it takes to get to know someone, and you get to enjoy great food to boot. This may feel like an unachievable task to complete remotely, but with the help of partners like Cater2.me’s, you can bring everyone together for a remote lunch with personalized meals that are dropped right at their doorstep. This will also help show the new hire a lot about your company culture in a positive way because let’s face it: who doesn’t love eating a lunch that they didn’t have to pay for or prepare?
Establish a Check-In Schedule
How are you supposed to know if your onboarding process is working if you don’t ask? Not only do regular check-ins help ensure that their transition into their new role is going smoothly, but they also give you a chance to build a relationship with the employee that fosters open communication. These check-ins can happen as often as once a week, or a little as once a month based upon your general onboarding timeline.
By asking them if they’re feeling comfortable and supported, you can reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness that are typically brought on from remote work. The key here is to make sure that all of these conversations are not solely about work; ask them about a new movie they may have seen or chat with them about a hobby they may have brought up in the past. This helps build rapport and establishes an actual connection with the employee, letting them know they’re not just some cog in the machine.
Send Them a Swag Package
Need a simple way to make your employee feel like they’re truly a part of the team? Swag them out! By giving them branded items like clothing or reusable water bottles, they get to rep their awesome new company while also getting your name out there to their network outside of your business. Swagbox offers some great work from home swag packages that you can send right to the new hire’s home; no contact or COVID stress needed.
Now that you have a basic list of remote new hire “dos”, why not make sure that you aren’t incorporating any “don’ts” so you can cultivate a culture that even MORE new employees would like to be a part of? Check out our recent blog on employee perks that your team actually wants here, and then read more about how to make new hires feel welcome in an office landscape to see how things can compare!