As corporate America navigates a safe return to work and hiring moves into high gear, a hybrid work model remains a logical choice for many industries. Most companies have figured out the logistical side of operating remotely, keeping far-flung team members engaged and maintaining a solid corporate culture.
Company culture typically gels when members of an organization work together – even remotely – every day. Personalities can harmonize and the company’s mission and values are reinforced. This attention to culture also should be part of the onboarding process, especially with a mix of on-site and remote new hires. But how do you translate this critical opportunity for new employees and set cultural expectations in a virtual setting without all the advantages of in-person orientation sessions and meetings? Here are four ways to reinforce company culture for a remote new hire:
1. Open The Lines of Communication
It’s up to your company to make sure new hires feel comfortable communicating their needs and asking questions. Company culture only works when employees are practicing and embracing it. As a leader, set the tone for this right from the start, and choose technologies that foster and build your culture. When appropriate, encourage phone calls, video chats or instant messaging in addition to formal emails for your new hires.
Just as you would introduce a new employee on-site, make sure to schedule one-on-one meetings for the new remote employee with co-workers on the first day. Have managers schedule regular check-ins to answer any questions and be sure to introduce a new employee at office-wide meetings. Remember to call on remote workers as well as those on-site during team meetings so that all employees feel included regardless of their location. New employees will see that this inclusive approach is part of the company culture.
2. Send a Welcome Box
Consider sending new remote hires a welcome box and letter that includes company SWAG featuring the company logo to help build excitement about being a part of the team. Small items such as pens and stress balls can be daily reminders to new employees that they are a part of the team, even if they are hundreds or thousands of miles away. A notepad, plaque or magnet that lists company values is also a great way to broadcast a commitment to culture and a reminder of how to prioritize work each day.
“Onboarding a new hire in a hybrid or remote work environment requires a good mix of individual attention and group inclusion.”
3. Encourage Informal Conversations
Virtual meetings can include breakout rooms, chat conversations, polls, videos or other means for new employees to become more familiar with their colleagues. In addition, creating a stronger bond with the team can lead to a better working dynamic and lay the groundwork for productive collaboration and problem solving. New hires who start engaging with colleagues informally are more likely to feel comfortable jumping into formal discussions later, whether in person or online.
4. Embrace The Buddy System
It can be challenging for remote new hires to learn the ropes when they can’t pop their head over the cubicle wall and ask a quick question. Assigning a remote “buddy” can help to keep a new hire in the culture loop and provide clear guidance on “how we do things.” While managers and mentors are valuable, employees are more likely to reach out to their peers with basic questions. If possible, pair new hires with buddies in the same time zone to make communication easier.
Onboarding a new hire in a hybrid or remote work environment requires a good mix of individual attention and group inclusion. The opportunities to introduce your new remote hires and reinforce your company culture are abundant and should be optimized.