Onboarding New Team Members in the Work From Home Era.

6th April 2020 / Tips & Advice

We are currently collaborating with various clients who are anticipating bringing in new staff or independent contractors for the first time in this WFH (work from home) scenario. This has raised various questions, and we have been working through points to consider, challenges that you might face and the positives of working through this properly. This also assumes you have already been through the video interview and selection process.

  • Ensure documentation, training manuals, and general information that would be provided to new employees in the work environment is readily available digitally.
  • All parties will need to have a clear understanding of standards that are expected in a professional and technical sense right through to BIM protocols. This ensures training measures and helping a new team member get “up to speed” on a project are the same as in a shared workplace. Clear communication is vital in this regard.
  • Confirm what software/hardware is required in advance, and generally, the business would provide hardware and software, (often via a company laptop) and mobile phone (if required).
  •  Confirm what minimum Internet/ data speed is available at the WFH office to ensure no connectivity problems occur when the new recruit commences.  Also ensuring what anti-virus requirements need to be put into place at the WFH site to ensure all parties are protected.
  • Security of information available to new employees should be explained and agreed to and what the ramifications are should a breach occur.
  • OHS – responsibilities don’t change – the employer in a WFH situation must provide a checklist that ensures the new employee understands safe work practices apply – this form should be completed and returned by the WFH worker – please contact Bloomfield Tremayne if such a checklist is required  [email protected]. As with any new employee, there is always early time taken to understand each office’s individual protocols, technical standards, and structures. In a WFH situation, this will require greater effort (and patience) to ensure the new employee comes up to speed as quickly as possible and ensures minimum stress from both parties. There may be instances where the new worker does not want to seem “slow” or “annoying”, though, by not asking a question, can bring inefficiencies, creating frustrations for both parties. Regular meetings/ catch ups are vital either via video or phone and are structured and enacted to make sure communication is clear in the early weeks of a new person joining a studio.
  • We would recommend the establishment of a virtual “onboarding” buddy to support the new employee in the first few weeks.
  • Greater effort than normal will be needed from key employees/managers to ensure face to virtual face introductions or meetings are held, so the recruit feels a part of the team and knows who they are working with. This is one area we suspect could fall away as existing staff in this environment already feel some stress in a WFH situation and are most likely heavily focused on their job at hand, and will generally be less empathetic to the needs of others given the circumstances.
  • An extension of this is the need to encourage digital engagement at several levels, as new employees who have joined in a WFH situation haven’t yet had the chance to experience the company’s great culture as everyone else would have. In this regard, the occasional video link lunch get-together, virtual after-work drinks, that type of thing would be advisable.
  • We highlight there is an element of trust that is required in these new working arrangements, and it is important for the company to lay out what their expectations are of how work is to be best performed, during what times and what objectives are required – again communication is really important.
  • Going forward, ensure ongoing open communication with your team – asking is everything going well for you?  how are you coping? For example, we expect people who live on their own to experience social pressures being in a totally solo environment for the first time, other people with young families will experience different daytime pressures, or a currently happy home may become a place of fear or violence as employment or health pressures come to bear – we hope not, but we just don’t know.

So in summary, the objectives that need to be achieved are:

  • Creating a sense of inclusion and welcome to the new WFH Employee
  • Establish communication methods that would otherwise occur at the office
  • Ensure efficiency and performance match as closely as possible to an office environment
  • Be mindful that this process is most likely new to both parties, so patience and flexibility need to be remembered in the early stages of this new way of working.

We hope the above has been of assistance, and we are here to help, but hey, we don’t know everything, so if you would like to add anything we have missed or you have already experienced, we would love to hear from you and we can share with everyone to help out.

Please let me know at [email protected]

Bruce Whetters

Partner – BT&P Melbourne

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