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It’s time to re-onboard your employees who started remotely during lockdown, here are 5 ways on how to do it

If you or your company has onboarded a new starter in the last 18 months, there’s a very strong chance that they’ve never stepped foot inside your physical office. But with teams around the country beginning to return to the office, are you ready to re-onboard those of your staff who started remotely?

We all know that when an employee joins a team, we need to onboard them, and we’ve been doing that for as long as most of us have been working, but since COVID-19 hit at the start of 2020, we’ve been doing it remotely.

Therefore, given that this group of employees will likely not have met their fellow team members, you may begin to look at the benefits of re-onboarding your remote starters, which could give them the ability to experience, and grow into, the culture of your organisation.

In this article, we look at 5 steps needed for a successful re-onboarding process, from getting employees familiar with their new environment to ensuring that they are supported in their first few weeks back.

1. Redo both the cultural and physical tour

When you re-onboard employees who started remotely, one of the first things you’ll want to do is to give them a tour of the office, from where their desk is to where the coffee machine and toilets are located. You’ll also want to take this opportunity to update them on different health and safety guidelines, including first aid and fire escapes, to name just two.

This tour isn’t though just a tour of the office, it’s a tour of the office culture as well, as you’ll want to share with them the expectation of how they’ll use common spaces, including whether social distancing measures are still in place and if so, what they are.

2. Ensure your teams can bond

When your employees walk through your front door, for the first time in the last 18 months your new colleagues, as well as those who were with you before lockdown, will have likely missed, outside the now famous ‘Zoom’ quizzes, on the ability to bond, as compared to what they would have engaged with pre-pandemic.

You can bring all your employees together – from across departments – for an office lunch, morning coffee, or even a social get together at the simplest level. However, on an individual team, such as sales or marketing, you may want to make it more personal to allow the team to connect, perhaps with lunch or after-work drinks.

You should also encourage managers to talk to their new team members and to get them to share their experiences, which will help those who are joining the team in person feel more comfortable.

3. Provide support and reassurance

Despite the rollout of the vaccination program, for many, the last 18 months have been hard on people’s health, both physically and mentally. There’s a chance your returning workers may be struggling with a range of issues, that may not be apparent at face value.

With the build-up to returning to work, you should ensure that there’s constant communication about the state of the business between management and the workers through regular company updates.

You may also want to consider implementing a management/HR open-door policy so that employees can reach out privately with any questions or concerns. If your staff know they are valued and supported, it will benefit your company culture and ensure a positive working environment.

4. Keep up the communication

Employees who were hired remotely have likely only been in contact via emails, or videos, with very few, if any, face-to-face meetings, and because of that, they may still be considered newbies in many respects.

Both HR and their line managers will want to continue with regular check-ins and one-to-ones to see how they’re handling this new workplace approach now that they’re in the office and not solely working from home.

5. Implement a ‘buddy’ system

By pairing up your new starters with those who have been established in the business for a while, you can promote a positive office culture while still offering a source of support for those who are just getting acquainted with onsite life.

Consider assigning your new starters to buddies who are outside their team, so that they have the opportunity to mix with team members that they may have never met or departments they’ve never interacted with before.