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Best practices for onboarding in a hybrid workplace

Best practices for onboarding in a hybrid workplace

purple background with text: hybrid hacks #2: onboarding

Never underestimate the value of a great first impression. Nailing the onboarding process can make a huge difference in how your employees view the organization long-term. In fact, 69% of employees said they were more likely to remain at a company for three years if they had a great onboarding experience.

But this process has to be optimized across different environments – both remote and onsite – if you’re operating a hybrid workplace.

According to one study, workers prefer a hybrid model 83% of the time – so this is a key aspect of optimizing the employee experience (EX). In this blog series, we’re diving into the EX best practices for hybrid workplaces in each stage of the employee lifecycle: 1) hiring, 2) onboarding, 3) productivity, and 4) growth & feedback.

Next up is onboarding. Let’s dive into some of the best practices for carrying out this crucial process in a hybrid environment.

1) Logistics

When onboarding someone in the office, logistical issues can be easily solved. When onboarding remotely, certain tasks must be handled differently. For example:

  • Prepare the hiring manager and provide an onboarding guide (either in checklist or cheat sheet form)
  • Create a landing page for all parties involved to have access to any information needed. This is a great spot to include a well-organized onboarding checklist.

For our own hybrid onboarding, we use our own platform – Back – to have 24/7 access to our internal knowledge base. If someone has a question or runs into an issue that can’t be easily solved, Back will loop in the right person within the organization to help us to get what we need.

It can be tricky to streamline the logistics of onboarding without being onsite with new hires, but the right processes and tools can make it easier.

2) Connection

Getting to know a new team can be overwhelming in any situation, but even more so if you aren’t spending time with them face to face. Ensuring your new hires feel welcome and can build personal connections is a crucial piece of the overall EX.

Since usual opportunities like lunchroom conversations, coffee breaks, or afterwork escape sessions might not be possible, here are some ways to build connection in hybrid workplaces:

  • Buddies – Implement a buddy program to help new hires mesh into the team. For example: A role buddy (go-to peer for any task or role-related questions) and/or culture buddy (someone from a different team to provide additional context on company culture and norms).
  • Welcome session – It’s a simple idea, but holding a welcome session and a show & tell can help kick off the “get to know you” process.
  • Internal introduction – A short introduction of each new employee in the company Slack channel, intranet, or HR newsletter can create opportunities for other people to engage with new hires.
  • Networking – For a remote or partially remote employee, networking opportunities may be limited and sometimes restricted. People teams should pay attention to the distribution of the team and provide spaces for people to connect. For example: Interactive and fun meetings, daily standups, or access to collaborative tools.

3) Inclusion

It’s common for remote employees to feel excluded or like they may be left behind. Some may wonder, “Am I going to matter as a remote employee? Is my work going to be visible? How will people see what I am doing – and does it even matter?”

Our job as People people is to give the employees the assurance that wherever they are, they do matter and are an important member of the team. We need to articulate 1) in what ways their work will matter and 2) how we will support them. Ensure they understand what tools or strategies are in place to empower them to be successful.

A key piece of this is coming up with a new definition of inclusion, rather than trying to replicate what in-person teams have done in the past. 

Many people are used to relying on in-person signals, and we naturally respond to the presence of people in a direct environment. However, we now must be more cognizant of what we want to provide – in terms of approach, frameworks, and structure for a distributed team. 

Some time ago, I had a hybrid team. It felt like whenever one person was remote, everyone was remote. I was trying to deliver an equitable experience for everyone in my team, to ensure there was equal opportunity to contribute and to get heard. 

It’s crucial to use the tools you have available to the fullest. In this case, I would always mention in the beginning of a meeting that people should use the “raising hand” function if they want to say something. This made everyone feel more comfortable, as it can sometimes be difficult in remote environments to discern whether you are allowed to interrupt or to speak.

Mastering the art of hybrid onboarding

Onboarding in a hybrid or remote environment presents unique challenges, but these best practices can help teams to create the best employee experience possible. Be sure to catch up on our thoughts on hybrid hiring if you missed it, and stay tuned for the rest of our series on EX best practices for hybrid workplaces in each stage of the employee lifecycle.

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