The hybrid workplace may be here to stay, but the onboarding processes you used when workers were in the office won’t cut it anymore. Companies will need new strategies and techniques to improve the onboarding process for remote and hybrid workers.

Think there’s no need to create onboarding initiatives specifically for hybrid workers, especially now that half the adult population in the United States have been vaccinated, and lockdowns have ended? First, consider the coronavirus itself. The newer Delta and Lambda variants of the virus have created the potential for a whole new set of lockdowns and crises. According to Michael Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, his team’s analysis indicates that almost every unvaccinated American who hasn’t yet had COVID-19 is likely to get it in the coming months. COVID-19 is likely to be with us for years to come, if not forever.

Add to that the hybrid and mobile workplace of today, which is not likely to go away either. Jolene Cramer, senior director of marketing at Limeade, an employee experience technology company, said some employees feel a strong resistance to going back to the way things were before the pandemic. Employees don’t want to lose the advantages of the remote workplace, such as the lack of long commutes, office politics and mandatory work attire.

“We invite and involve the new hire in virtual social activities such as our coffee chats, virtual happy hours, virtual meditation and yoga trivia, company events immediately to get them comfortable with the rest of the team,” she said. “We use tools that help enable communication in remote settings such as Slack Signal, and Microsoft Teams. We automate any steps in the onboarding process that can be automated.”
Dr. Melodie Bond-Hillman

For remote workers, onboarding should have a larger focus on making them feel like they are part of the company, its values, and its culture, and that can be challenging when they cannot be face-to-face with coworkers and leaders. Bond-Hillman’s company sets up a virtual welcome lunch and sends the remote employee lunch on that first day, alongside a welcome box with company swag to help them feel welcome.

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