As we move to more remote work, especially in these pandemic times, how do we integrate people so they can succeed?
I updated the checklists with a middle column, contrasting the actions for remote employees.
The Candidate Accepted the Offer
Yes, the hiring manager has work to do before the new employee starts.
Note the focus on helping the new employee connect with other people. And, that the new person does not have to use their personal equipment.
You might wonder why I'm so insistent the new employee should not use their own computer or cell.
I'm not a lawyer nor am I an HR professional. This is management advice, not legal advice.
In most states, the employer can access anything and everything on employer-supplied equipment. I worry about employer monitoring of employee's activities. (It's wrong and not necessary. If you can't trust your employees, why did you hire them? Why are you a manager?) Don't make this situation even worse by having to threaten to take an employee's personal computer or cell because they did you the favor of using their equipment for work.
Don't even go there.
Prepare for Day 1
Here, the main difference is that you can send all that paperwork to an employee in advance of their start date.
You might send their paperwork via their new email, also testing that their email works. That depends on your privacy and VPN policies.
I have a note about forms in the table: Do you still have paper paperwork? As in, forms you must fill out by hand on paper?
Now is an excellent time to revamp those forms and give people access to however you manage all that information. I assume you use products of some sort to manage all that data.
If you do not yet use products to manage all the HR data, now is an excellent time to transition to products that people can access on their own. Do not make people go to the Post Office to mail forms back. Remote work demands remote access to everything.
Orientation on Day 1
If you arrange the work “right,” you'll have less to do on the first day a new employee starts.
The new employee needs a buddy. I wrote about how to effectively use a buddy in Hiring Geeks That Fit. Mark and I wrote about agile and remote buddies in From Chaos to Successful Distributed Agile Teams.
As a leader, rethink some of your policies. For example, what does “on time” and “late” mean for remote work? If your new employee works on a product development team, the team decides with their working agreements. You don't decide. HR doesn't decide.
Here's what you do care about:
- The team creates the necessary outcomes.
- The team can collaborate across the organization as necessary. (See hours of overlap.)
What about work times in workgroups? You might need people to be available at specific times, such as for customer support workgroups. If you offer your customers specific online times, the people need to fulfill that promise.
My Guiding Principle for Integrating Remote Employees
I have these guiding principles for integrating remote employees:
- Work and test as much in advance as possible.
- Integrate people into a team or a workgroup so they feel as if they are part of the organization as soon as possible.
Notice I said “integrate” and not “onboard.” To me, onboard sounds like something you do to a person, not with a person. People need to grant you permission to integrate them.
Did I miss anything? Any questions? Please comment so I can improve these checklists. I made them open in a new tab so you can see and download them easily.