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Question: During the pandemic, we hired nearly 30 new team members, most of whom never worked in our office. As we develop our return-to-work plans, I’ve been tasked to ensure those new team members acclimate to the organization regardless of whether they’ll work full time from the office or in a hybrid capacity. What advice can you give me for re-onboarding employees who started remotely?
Answer: While going back to the office will be an adjustment for everyone, it will be an entirely new experience for remote hires. When you’re looking at the group of employees to be re-onboarded, consider including team members who started a month or so before the sudden shift, as their full onboarding experience may have been cut short. Here are three strategies to consider to help your remote hires acclimate to the adjustment.
- Let remote hires bond as a cohort. This group shares a common, distinctive experience that they will continue to resonate with and naturally bond over. Plan something special for remote hires where they all meet in-person to strengthen their common bond. Lunch with the CEO, speed networking activities, or an affinity group that allows the cohort to reinforce their shared experiences can all help the group to build allies and feel more comfortable.
- Orient them to the facilities. It’s plausible that someone who has worked for your organization for more than a year will be bewildered by badges, conference room protocols, and even how to get supplies. Conduct tours in small groups to provide opportunities for remote hires to understand the layout of the office. Show them not only where the kitchen, restrooms and fire exits are, but other things like how to avoid getting locked in the stairwell or other common new hire hazards.
- Communicate with managers. Managers of remote hires may assume that since these employees have already been on the job for some period of time they don’t need extra attention. Remind these managers that it’s their job to help re-onboard remote hires to make sure they are adjusting well to the new environment and have their questions answered. Encourage them to take their remote hires to lunch or conduct a one-on-one with them their first week in the office, just as would have been the case if they had initially started their job at the office.
Your instinct to re-onboard remote hires is on point. Create a welcoming one for this cohort and give them support to acclimate with confidence.
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