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Helping Your Remote Employees Succeed: From Onboarding to Emotional Health

By Logan Mallory

Illustration of Carl the yeti sitting happily at a desk with a computer.

Your organization has made some necessary adjustments due to a pandemic that’s keeping much of the workforce in their homes. At some point, we all hoped these changes would only be temporary. After all, many employees are feeling the loneliness and lack of appreciation that have resulted from social distancing efforts and lack of in-person time with colleagues. Even so, many organizations will continue remotely for the foreseeable future.

All is not lost, though! We’ve also seen some awesome productivity gains and increased employee satisfaction with their newfound flexibility thanks to remote work. You might be evaluating how remote work might play a part in your organization long-term.

In light of this change, traditional in-office practices like onboarding, collaboration, and camaraderie between employees will need to shift. Be ready to address the changing needs of your employees in a way that keeps everybody feeling happy and connected by adding more structure to your onboarding and fostering healthy productivity at home.

Welcome to the team you’ve never met

You might need to hire new people — even during a pandemic. But these people have likely never stepped foot in your office! Never shaken your hand, never been to lunch with you, never met their team in-person. In a remote world, you’re welcoming them to a company from the familiarity of their own home office. Besides the content of their work, not much has changed.

So how do you still make them feel like a part of your company with all the tools they need to succeed?

  • Create several short onboarding videos with the information new employees need to know and a completion calendar
  • Hold Zoom sessions to allow for facetime with
    • Company leadership
    • Team leadership
    • Each team member
  • Go to lunch! If both parties are comfortable and near enough, go!
  • Assign a peer to be a go-to for cultural capital questions
  • Ship materials and a welcome package of company swag
  • Allocate time for IT to help your new hire download important software
  • Create onboarding how-to videos to ease the time burden on IT and team members

These practices can ensure that your new hires feel a part of the company, even if they’ve never seen it in person before.

Guarding your remote employees’ emotional health through balance and belonging

While employees appreciate the flexibility, the commute time and money savings, and the extra time with family remote work offers, the proximity to home often causes the line between work and life to disappear.

image with text - Their haven of relaxation is now dressed in business casual

Your employees are waking up where they work and going to sleep where they work. Their haven of relaxation is now dressed in business casual. It can be hard to sign-off, mentally and physically. In fact, remote workers log more hours than those working in the office.

We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again: set and respect boundaries. To help your employees avoid burn-out, model acceptable boundaries. Tell your employees that you reserve an hour around six to have dinner with your family or that on Tuesdays you’ll be logging on half an hour later so you can do school drop off. Encourage them to take their time off, even if they can’t take that tropical vacation they were planning.

Then make sure that your employees still feel like they belong at the company. Many companies are having some employees return to the office while others stay remote. Make sure that your remote employees still feel like they matter, they can continue to move up in the company, and they know what’s going on day to day.

One way to help stave the loneliness and insecurities that come into play when you are remote is to give your employees a platform for connection. Motivosity’s Connect offers your employees a place to meet and associate with other people at the company, along with a place where you can post announcements to keep everyone in the loop whether they are in-office or out. Connect promotes employee engagement and connection by incorporating the following features:

  • Personality quiz: Employees can figure out what kind of employee they are and view tips of how to work well with others who are similar or different.
  • Personal profiles: View pictures, roles, and interests of other employees at the company to help you get to know them, even from afar.
  • Communities: Connect with others who share similar interests.
  • Responsibilities: Easily search roles and responsibilities to figure out who to connect with for your next project.
  • Org chart: Having trouble connecting names on emails to how each person fits into the company? Use the org chart as a helpful visual.

These elements would help promote belonging for any employee, but are vital for those remote employees who aren’t able to strike up casual conversations about interests or see company leadership in the office.

Ultimately, virtual work may not be ending anytime soon. But managers with the right toolkit — a smooth onboarding process, word-and-deed promotion of work-life balance, and platforms that foster belonging — can keep their teams on course to make the magic happen near or far.

Sources:

  • https://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/five-ways-leaders-can-support-remote-work/
  • https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/talent-acquisition/pages/virtual-onboarding-remote-workers.aspx
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/nazbeheshti/2020/08/27/is-remote-work-good-or-bad-for-employee-engagement-your-leadership-holds-the-answer/?sh=402000fc76f9 https://hbr.org/2019/12/the-value-of-belonging-at-work#:~:text=If%20workers%20feel%20like%20they,of%20more%20than%20%2452M