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How to take on a remote employee during a pandemic

By ILX Team | 20 August 2020

Whilst some return to the office, there are still plenty of us who continue to work from home as a result of the current pandemic. For employers this likely means taking on any new recruits via phone or video interview. Whilst this isn’t too challenging, introducing a fully remote employee into your team can be.

Setting them up with tech remotely can be testing, as can giving them the rundown of processes in ‘normal times’ vs. the measures you currently have in place. But trickiest of all is integrating your new employee into your team.

Collaborative working has been shown to have a huge influence on project outcomes, and so it is essential that any new employee builds the necessary connections with your existing team. Here we look at what you can do as an employer to foster positive working relationships among a distributed workforce, along with advice to help with navigating remote employment in order to get the best out of your new addition.

What you can do as the employer

Integrating a new remote employee into a team can pose a challenge. But if you have carefully considered the candidate’s cultural fit in your company during the hiring process you shouldn’t have a problem. Studies show that shared qualities and values amongst co-workers leads to better performing staff and higher retention rates. Cultural fit can mean a smoother transition for your recruit. Although, that’s not to say they will seamlessly harmonise if left to their own devices, there is still plenty you can do to assist the integration.

Mindfully introduce

Plan ahead when it comes to introducing them to the team. If possible, have a team member who was involved in the interview process available on your new employee’s first day, at the least to be on a video call to introduce them to their line manager and/or direct co-workers. Even better, if you have team Zoom meetings or online scrums scheduled into your working day anyway, then involve your newbie in them. Not only will this help them to settle, but will minimise disruption for the rest of the team.

Up the socials

Chances are the pandemic has pushed you to innovate how your team interacts. Some offices opt for lunchtime Slack chats or group video calls, where work chat is off the cards in favour of just having a natter. Others save their social time for a Friday afternoon ‘pub’ group Zoom call or quiz.

Interacting away from the workload is great for improving collaboration, teamworking, and building personal relationships and connections, particularly for new team members. As employees return to the office, keeping up such online social practices will help to mesh and unite remote employees with those in the office.

Normal vs the new normal

If safe to do so, consider inviting your new starter(s) along to the office for a socially distanced tour or meeting. This can help them get a sense of the business set up pre-pandemic, even if they are to remain working remotely for the foreseeable future.

Above all, good communication is key when onboarding new staff remotely. Be sure to check in with them regularly and encourage existing staff to as well. Be sure your fresh recruit knows which channels to use to communicate with team members, particularly if they’re struggling with anything.

Working during a pandemic has been tough for us all, so providing extra structure and support has become a key responsibility for employers. Follow our tips and be sure to craft a supportive work environment and you will be able to seamlessly mesh your new remote employee with your existing team.

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