WORKING REMOTELY In and Out of Lockdown

Implement these proven tactics to successfully onboard remote hires now and in the future, in and out of lockdown.

The COVID-19 stay-at-home mandates threw a few curveballs at businesses. Companies and businesses were, and are still challenged, not only to be nimble and innovative enough to keep the lights on during the crisis, but also to prepare for when the economy reopens. Smart business owners and corporate leaders wisely took advantage of this opportunity to begin reaching out to and hiring desirable candidates for the future.

As the world begins to recover, many of this employers, and you may be one of them, are tasked with onboarding their new team members. But, how can this be accomplished with lockdowns still in effect in certain parts of the country? If employees are increasingly allowed to work from home full time, as part of the new normal, how will companies onboard future remote hires?

Given how the business world has changed over the last several months, here is what I recommend for successfully onboarding remote hires now and in the future:

  1. Utilize video conferencing tools: Video conferencing can be a critical link between you and your new or actual remote team members. Seeing coworkers’ faces encourages camaraderie and warmth. Schedule welcome meetings and regular brainstorming sessions with your entire team via your preferred video platform, and hold ongoing weekly video meetings to keep the new hire and regular team members engaged.

  2. Make expectations clear: Taking the time to show actual and new employees the ropes and set expectations are critical. Utilize video and screen shares to walk your employees through any info or tips that will help them do their job well. Discuss work times and availability, response time, and productivity expectations. Answer all practical questions they may have and be as clear as possible about their responsibilities.

  3. Clarify the evaluation process: The first 30 days are crucial to an effective onboarding process. Let employees know how their success will be measured and how they will be evaluated during this early period. Specify the performance review process and clarify which deadlines are coming up in the next month and the near future. Also be clear about your own availability to help your team and new employees get off to a strong start.

  4. Communicate early and often: There is no such thing as over-communicating with remote employees. Since much can go astray without the ability to pop over to a co-worker’s desk or manager’s office to ask a quick question, err on the side of more rather than less interaction. Clarifying to employees what should be communicated and through which channels is critical.

  5. Foster a sense of belonging: A major pitfall of remote work is the loneliness that can come from isolation. It is vital that team members know that you are always available if they need to reconnect and restore their spirits. One of your biggest challenges as a business owner, corporate leader or manager of remote employees is making sure those workers stay productive and happy.

A final word

As most of the world has adopted social distancing to do their part to flatten the COVID-19 curve, many are experiencing increasing feelings of stress, anxiety, or sadness. Working long days remotely and being isolated from loved ones, employees do not always know how to ask for help from their employers. Follow up with your remote employees as they acclimate to the new way of conducting business.

Implementing change can be tricky during the best of times. When remote workers are involved, this critical time period requires even greater levels of patience, sensitivity, and flexibility on your part. By clarifying expectations and the evaluation process, communicating liberally, and fostering a sense of belonging, you can sidestep work-from-home issues.

Michel Ouellette JMD, ll.l., ll.m

Systemic Strategic Planning / Crisis & Reputation Management

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