For many employers, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is requiring long-term remote work. Companies that effectively onboard new workers retain their workers longer, have better worker performance, and increase their profits by almost 100 percent, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. However, there are many considerations that companies should take during this important process.
For remote orientations, a welcome package that discusses the company’s products or services can be emailed to attendees prior to the live introduction. It’s also imperative that essential employees for the new hires (training and supervisors, for example) and existing employees who they will be working with are on the virtual meeting for introductions.
Other considerations include maintaining a sense of professionalism. If a company has a dress code, training managers should serve as an example by dressing appropriately and communicating the requirement to new hires. This also can apply to the physical background of remote workers – having a professional-looking environment with muted colors.
Equip Workers With Varied Communication Tools
While almost everyone uses email to communicate, Harvard Business Review (HBR) suggests that email should not be the sole method of communication for remote workers. Along with team communication platforms, video conferencing benefits workers because communicating with body language helps normalize the remote work experience. Video conferencing with recording capabilities can also be used for online training so that employees may access this resource at their own convenience.
Managing Virtual Communication
Regardless of how virtual employees communicate, there needs to be some structure to find the right balance for efficiency. For example, using instant messages for urgent but simple communication needs. When it comes to video conferencing, consider touching base for 10 to 15 minutes once a day for a check-in or feedback session. Determining communication frequency depends on when workers work (different time zones, staggered shifts, etc.) and what’s effective for managers and employees.
Schedule a check-in phone call – either once a day or perhaps once in the morning and once in the late afternoon. It can be modified depending on the individual or the type of worker, be it a call with a single employee or an entire group if they are used to working together.
HBR says that workers are heavily influenced on how to deal with abrupt changes or crises based on their leaders’ actions. Whether a manager is calm and collected or anxious and lacking control, those they are supervising will act similarly. Regardless of the situation, managers who empathize with feelings of uncertainty and give verbal encouragement will impart a sense of confidence to the entire team.
Regardless of how social a person is during office hours, the lack of morning greetings, break room conversations, water cooler chat, and goodbyes when leaving the office reinforces the isolation of working remotely – and that can affect anyone.
Therefore, weaving in time for employees to build rapport is also recommended by HBR. Whether it’s going around virtually to ask how everyone’s weekend was or having the company deliver a meal to remote workers for a virtual office party, it’s been reported that these types of activities relieve feelings of isolation and garner goodwill with the company.
Businesses that take the appropriate steps to build and develop a balanced remote workforce can survive and thrive, but only by adapting to the very different demands of working virtually.