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Setting up new starters for success in a hybrid working environment

How to tackle technical and cultural challenges.

In 2020, most organisations underwent a seismic shift to remote structures. Established ways of working had to evolve fast, whilst technical, security and operational hurdles required quick workarounds, followed by longer-term strategic solutions. For employees, working from home quickly became the norm.

Now as we plot the return to the office, the new normal for many companies looks set to blend the past and the present. According to McKinsey’s recent report, What executives are saying about the world of hybrid work, nine out of 10 organisations will combine onsite and remote working. Whilst recent data from the CIPD illustrates that 40% of employers expect more than half of their workforce to continue to work from home in some capacity.

This shift to a hybrid structure now poses distinct challenges for employers and their workforce. For existing teams, there will be questions about the fluidity of hybrid structures and what this means for them. And for new hires, it can feel even more like a step into the unknown. To smoothly transition new starters, organisations must face up to both technical and cultural challenges.

Getting it right from a technical and training perspective underpins a smooth onboarding process for new employees

The traditional first day in the office looks to be a thing of the past. If new employees are at home when they first log into their new job, it’s crucial to make sure they don’t feel overwhelmed. IT must therefore provide the necessary hardware and equipment, and explain how to use it upfront. Hybrid structures mean this essential task can be done in person. Passwords, email and access to file sharing should be set up before an employee starts, and contact information provided for colleagues that can help with technical and equipment queries on remote days.

As new starters will be communicating with new colleagues both virtually and in person, and often learning new programmes, processes, procedures and systems in silos, line managers play a fundamental role in remote onboarding. They must determine the best way to ensure appropriate training in the first days, weeks and months. This could include frequent check-ins, screen sharing to run through ongoing work, and regular meetings for employees to ask any questions they may have. It may be that new starters spend more time in the office than remotely in their first few weeks.

Flexibility in approach is also essential, as is an understanding of a new employee’s favoured working habits – phone calls or video calls may be preferred over email exchanges, for example. By understanding how they want to work, you’re giving them the foundation to complete their tasks to a high standard.

An increased focus on team culture and new employee inclusion is essential for wellbeing and engagement

Potential isolation of new employees must be a primary consideration, necessitating an increased focus on company culture and inclusion to ensure ongoing employee wellbeing and engagement. Virtual collective stand ups at the start of the week might be essential for productivity, but they also help new team members to feel part of the collective, as do virtual brainstorming and collaboration sessions. However, it is up to managers and team leaders to define the best approach. Video conferencing may feel more daunting for some employees when brainstorming than using team spaces like Slack, for example. But from a social perspective, virtual team quizzes, post-work socials or virtual lunches all play a part in settling in new starters. It sounds simple, but when done well it can make a big difference.

One of the benefits of hybrid structures is the ability to better define ways of working – a vital requirement for managers to get right. Office days can be designated for collaboration, team building and project kick-offs, although advance planning is crucial for in-office time to be productive and effective. Keeping remote days for work involving individual focus gives new employees the time and headspace to be able to perform. When done well, effective hybrid structures can mean new staff feel part of the team but can also illustrate their ability – both integral factors of finding satisfaction in a new role.

New employee checklist for hybrid onboarding

To create effective hybrid working structures for new starters, it is key to run through the following checklist before they are onboarded:

Company-wide considerations

  • Map out what a hybrid working structure means for your business. According to the data from McKinsey, 68% of organisations have no detailed vision for what hybrid working looks like – this is no doubt a challenge to get right, but one you must take on.
  • Communicate this to your new employees (as well as your existing employees). For the third of organisations that do have a hybrid working plan, only one in 10 are yet to effectively communicate this to their teams.

Technical considerations

  • Confirm that IT has the required hardware setup ready to go.
  • Confirm that they have an email address, network access, and logins for team spaces and workflow tools.
  • Book a time with IT to run through hardware requirements to get them set up, in-person, as well as to detail IT security best practices.

Company culture and training considerations

  • Ensure HR have booked a slot – virtually or in-person – to run through their contract and company culture, for example.
  • Make sure that all processes and procedures are recorded in writing.
  • Ensure all information and documents are made public on the network and are easy to access in digital form.
  • Define a common set of communication channels and ensure they are being used by your existing team.
  • Consider the fluidity of the hybrid structure and designate office and remote time, and the tasks to be completed within each.
  • Ensure you set time to understand each new employee’s preferred ways and structure of working.
  • Book regular catch-ups and check-ins with line managers.
  • Have the first week and months’ worth of team and department socials – whether virtual or in-person – booked in and communicated to your new starter.

By creating effective hybrid working structures, your new employees will reap the benefits 

By implementing the right approach and groundwork before new employees are onboarded, they are more likely to feel included and become long-standing members of the team. This, in turn, can lead to heightened employee morale, increased productivity and business success.

Head to the Brother UK Hybrid Working hub to discover more about creating hybrid effective structures for your workplace.

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