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5 Tried and Tested Tips for Successful Hybrid Onboarding

Jul 15, 2022
5 Tried and Tested Tips for Successful Hybrid Onboarding
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The popularity of the hybrid work culture soared in the aftermath of the pandemic, making it one of the most desired ways of working. A global survey of more than 9,000 workers conducted by Slack found that 72% of them would prefer a hybrid approach. The flexibility offered by the hybrid work model where employees can choose when to work from home and when to go to the office has resulted in increased productivity and better work-life balance. 

This new reality has pushed company executives and HR leaders to focus on the onboarding experience. One of the main questions that arises is how to design the onboarding process so companies can attract and retain good talent, ensure high employee engagement, and make workers feel welcomed and valued, regardless where they work from. Moreover, how can the onboarding process provide a seamless experience and clearly communicate the employees’ duties so they do not feel lost, especially when working remotely?

Below you can find six tried and tested tips to help you design your hybrid onboarding process.

1. Personalize the onboarding materials and experience

Think of it like this: the first day for an employee in the office often feels like a field trip. Their five senses are entertained as they meet new people, get a tour of the office, experience the company’s culture, and engage in in-person training. Employees that start their first day remotely, on the other hand, are just sitting at home in front of their computers. Unless fully integrated, they can end up feeling detached from the company’s goals as they hyperfocus on performing their tasks.

One of the most common mistakes when onboarding new employees is to overburden them with information on their first day. The virtual onboarding experience has to make remote employees feel as much part of the company as employees in the office. The in-person training should be transformed into a virtual workshop. The workshop should include relaxed team calls and engaging materials (think videos) that will introduce new hires to the company’s vision, history, teams, processes, and goals, as well as how employees communicate and collaborate regardless of location.

2. Clarify expectations and forms of communication

People need to know what is expected from them so they can do their best to meet those expectations. According to a survey of 400 corporations with over 100K employees in the U.K. and U.S., miscommunication and communication barriers contributed to an estimated $62.4 million loss in productivity per year. Limit opportunities for assumptions and mistakes by arriving at clear agreements on the following:

    • Days in the office vs days home. Employees should know how many days they are expected to be in the office and how many days they can work from home.

    • Coworking spaces. If your company offers access to coworking spaces, make sure you communicate that to your new hires. 

    • Available times. Make it clear at what hours they should be online and available if contacted by their managers or colleagues. Availability is especially important when working with remote freelancers who either travel often or live in another time zone. 

    • Breaks. Inform employees of official break times if your company has any. If not, ask them to choose their own break times so you know when they are away from their computers.

  • Communication tools. Your new hires should install/download and use your company’s tools for project management and communication. That way, there are no missed messages due to the fact that the new hire did not install certain software. If they need to integrate their work tools, make sure they know this ahead of time, too.

  • Assignments, performance, and deadlines. Tasks should be clearly distributed and deadlines should be timely communicated. Most tasks should have targets that will help you track performance. If that performance is connected to a bonus scheme, you should make sure the new hire is well acquainted with the rules and targets. Also, make sure they know which tasks need to be done in the office and which ones can be done from anywhere.

Company culture and communication style. Introduce new hires to your company culture, how you expect them to communicate with clients and colleagues. For example, if you expect them to follow certain email etiquette, or have a ‘no gossip’, they need to be aware of that from the start.

3. Create collaborative workspaces

Collaborative workspaces allow employees to engage with one another in real-time, regardless of their locations. In a hybrid scenario, the need for collaboration and engagement increases as employees become geographically dispersed. To ensure that remote workers feel connected and supported throughout their onboarding journey, you must provide them with collaborative workspaces (both physical offices and virtual offices). 

Virtual collaborative workspaces can be as simple as a group chat where like-minded individuals can post about their interests such as cooking, sports, pets, hobbies, parenting, etc. Another example of a virtual collaborative workspace can be an online chat room where new hires can interact and ask questions.  

If your team is expected to commute to the office, then make sure they have an empty desk and all the necessary things to do their work such as a keyboard, mouse, second screens, headphones, projector, etc. The office should also have dedicated meeting areas, complete with video conferencing tools that would allow for in-office and remote teams to collaborate effectively. 

You should also bridge the gap between in-office and remote workers by organising virtual meet and greets, coffee talks, and training or mentoring programs. Make sure all important physical events are digitally available through live streams. 

4. Set up the necessary tools and tech in advance

Having the right IT infrastructure is very important for hybrid teams. Regardless whether your company has an internal software or is using a desktop-as-a-service solution, having an IT person who would set up workstations ahead of time can ease the onboarding process. Having pre-recorded video tutorials and step-by-step guides can help employees feel less stressed when they are working remotely and do not know who to ask about how to use the company’s tools and tech. 

Do not assume that employees know how to use tools and platforms just because they are popular. For example, Asana is a popular work management tool with a lot of tutorials online, but that does not mean that employees should figure it out themselves. Whether you are using Asana or Asana alternatives, the onboarding process will be a much more enjoyable experience if all the new hires need to do is just download some software packages and click a couple of buttons.

5. Check in on new hires

The onboarding process is not over just because the employees finished their initial training and started their work. If you are not seeing them every day in the office, you will not have an input on how they feel about the company. You can track employee performance but you cannot track their feelings and thoughts. That is why you should schedule regular check-in calls, especially with the employees who do not frequent the office. 

These calls often fall on the managers. Managers should check whether the employees know which tasks are top priorities, who to contact if they have questions, what capabilities can get them promoted, and what is expected from them in the hybrid work environment. Misunderstandings can lead to dissatisfaction with the workplace and could result in lower productivity or resignation.

Final thoughts

The two most important aspects of a successful hybrid onboarding are timely communication and organization. If hastily implemented, the hybrid onboarding can lead to a lot of misunderstandings and employee dissatisfaction. Employees’ need for flexibility has led them to rethink their goals, careers, and working conditions, so companies have to design the onboarding strategies with the employee needs in mind. 


About Author: Georgi Todorov is an SEO specialist, course creator and founder of ThriveMyWay, a website dedicated to teaching successful digital marketing strategies. A creative thinker who is committed to self-education, when Georgi isn’t working, you can find him getting close to nature, reading, avidly listening to podcasts, learning online or traveling.

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