For remote employees hired during the COVID pandemic, returning to in-person work will be quite a shock. Even if your company is adopting a hybrid approach, acclimating new hires to the ins and outs of the office will be essential as people return to in-person work.
New hires face a new company, new role, new processes, and new people – it’s an overwhelming time, and there is much to learn. Imagine experiencing all of this twice…once when being hired, and again when returning to the office.
A reboarding process ensures a smooth transition as employees head back in. Continuing the onboarding process helps socialize new employees into the company culture and makes change smoother, easier and more efficient for everyone.
In a strong job market, where employees expect hybrid work solutions, engagement is key to improved retention. But those hired and onboarded virtually may feel less engaged and disconnected from the company’s mission, values, and vision. They may not have the same sense of belonging.
If onboarded remotely, employees may not have the same understanding of the office’s inner workings and thus have a more challenging time completing tasks like filing expenses or filing essential documents.
If you notice COVID hires are less engaged and unsure of day-to-day operations, maybe a refresher on safety training or an overview of in-office policies is just what they need.
1. Start with Research
Now is a perfect time to conduct a pulse survey, looking for feedback on return to work, hybrid workplaces, and what your people need to succeed in a new work environment. Knowing this information upfront allows you to create a targeted action plan based on employee feedback. You’ll know exactly which areas to pinpoint for the best return on your investment.
Let COVID hires network and bond over their shared starts. It’s a great opportunity to go over aspects of the onboarding process that span across the company (culture, mission, values).
3. Focus on Culture & Mission
Bring everyone back to the core mission and values of the company to ensure all employees are on the same page. Reinforce values, rituals, and routines regarding how you get things done and interact with each other in the office.
Outlining how these rituals and processes will look for in-person, hybrid, and remote employees and asking for feedback ensures clarity and consistency across the board.
4. Be Clear on Work Teams & Structures
Create an internal communication campaign to share your vision for the company’s future. Which positions will be hybrid, in-person, or remote – and will it be different for each department? How will inter-department communication happen?
Sharing your WHY when it comes to in-person vs. remote work is essential. Employees will have a greater sense of purpose and belonging when they know exactly how their role fits within the bigger picture.
5. Give Small Group Tours of Your Facilities
Being new to an office is awkward. Not being able to find your way around makes it even more challenging (particularly if you worked at the company for 2 years!) No one wants to raise their hand and ask where the photocopier is.
Conducting facility tours in small groups allows everyone to ask questions and get to know the lay of the land. It’s also a great way to introduce remote hires to more tenured employees.
6. Actively Build Your Team
Training modules and fun activities give new hires and remote workers a chance to learn the culture and company systems (like ADP). Consider hosting a team-building exercise to get everyone reacquainted. Hosting informal activities that allow staff to socialize in a more relaxed environment helps build rapport and brings your team together.
7. Conduct Regular Check-ins
Continue to check in even if the remote hires have been with the company for a while. Transitioning to in-office work will bring up new questions and learning opportunities. Regular, scheduled check-ins and stay interviews ensure everyone is adjusting to their work schedule (whether remote, in-person or hybrid).
Constant communication and transparency are crucial to employee engagement, so keep them in the loop and let everyone know what’s happening. Providing opportunities for employees to share anonymous feedback is the best way to get open, honest answers.
Remember that emotions and thoughts about returning to the office will be varied and unique to the individual – some may adjust easier than others. Moving towards the future with processes that focus on a people-first approach is more critical than ever.
As managers, we need to remove barriers and create a new workplace optimized for how we live now. Reboarding, open communication, and team-building keep everyone in the loop with a clear vision of how things will move forward.
Ensuring employees feel heard and part of the process will build excitement about upcoming changes and the company’s future.