4 practices for onboarding remote workers to make sure they feel included and prepared

microsoft middle east remote work
Open communication is key for a remote team to operate smoothly.

  • Onboarding remote workers in a way that makes them included and productive is essential.
  • Ensure that everyone on the team is warm and welcoming, and schedule regular hangouts and check-ins.
  • Improve communication by having non-work discussions, and make the remote worker feel appreciated.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

As a consequence of the past year-plus, more than half of workers now say they’d prefer that their employers offer a more flexible, hybrid virtual-working model that allows employees to toggle between home and the office. Even so, onboarding remote workers is a tricky affair. It’s essential to bring them on in a way that makes them feel included and sets them up for great productivity. Here’s four tips to help ease the transition.

Read more: Verizon is letting job functions determine if its 133,000 employees should work from home, in the office, or both. 3 staffers shared how their routines will change.

1. Offer a welcome from everyone, not just you

When you bring on a remote employee, you’re not just putting them under you. You’re bringing them into your larger group. If you want them to feel like they fit in, then everybody in the group has to be warm and welcoming, not just you.

As an example, just recently, I brought in a new team member from London. I had everybody shoot her an email to say hello and connect with her. We also sent her a jacket we’d created that had not just the company logo but the logo for the group she was a part of, too. This way, she was able to come into work with something all of us already had. The atmosphere was really supportive, and she felt connected almost right away because of those small gestures.

2. Set up regular meetings between you and the new employee

Staying with my London worker example, I’ve intentionally dedicated about 30 minutes a day to meeting online with her. There are two big reasons you should have these regular check-ins.

First, working remotely can get pretty lonely. Your employee isn’t interacting with others the same way they would if they were coming into the office. So, when I meet with my London hire, I have a great opportunity to break that isolation in a simple but really caring way and make sure she’s at least talking with me.

Second, you want your new hires to get to know you so you can build some trust. During the pandemic, I actually had another employee who’d been onboarded leave our business and go back to the company they’d worked at before. A big reason for that exit was that nobody had really built a relationship with them. The old saying that people don’t leave companies, they leave managers, really struck me as true. I didn’t want to repeat the same mistake, so building a connection with the London employee became a priority for me.

3. Have regular team meetings that aren’t all about work

All your workers are on your team because they bring something fantastic to your business. But they’re also human beings. If you want to understand them and build real connections, then you have to see all of who they are, not just their business side.

I have some team meetings that don’t focus exclusively on work. I get people to ask questions about each other, or I throw out questions just to help people expand their imaginations. It helps me and everyone else see how everybody thinks and operates. It also improves how comfortable we are with communicating in a more authentic way.

4. Give the remote employee responsibility right away

Any new hire is going to need a little guidance before they’re totally off and running on their own. But they still need to feel like they have an important role to play and a responsibility to get work done. This is an especially big deal for remote workers, because if they’re not going to have as many opportunities for interaction, then they need to know beyond any doubt that they’re contributing with purpose and have the trust of the team.

With my London hire, I brought her into conversations with the president of our European branch. She immediately felt connected because we dove right into business. She wasn’t just following someone around. I actually asked for her opinion, and she was able to give it to me.

No matter the role of your remote worker, be truly present with them. Instead of just running from meeting to meeting as they try to figure things out, make sure they’ve got some meaningful work to do right out of the gate. Give them easy ways to contribute, and validate those contributions early.

Remote work has hurdles, but clear strategies can get you over them

It’s still not clear just how many employees will prefer a hybrid work environment or go completely remote in the future. But the likelihood that you’ll have more people on your team who don’t regularly come into your office is only increasing. Approach onboarding your remote workers with a real strategy. If you tackle the challenges of remote environments with intentional effort, then no challenge will be insurmountable.

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Rising remote work is upping job inequality in European capitals and ‘scarring’ some sectors, says OECD report

Paris
The expansion of remote working has led to labor inequalities in major European capitals.

  • An report by the OECD and Indeed warned that remote working may aggravate labor inequality. 
  • Analyzing job postings for major European capitals, experts said the service sector may be scarred.
  • The percentage of remote job postings is increasing but the job market has still not recovered.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Remote working options have allowed many companies to keep going during the COVID-19 pandemic, with some companies even thriving as a result. However, this hasn’t been possible in all sectors with retail, hospitality, and healthcare among the most affected.

The expansion of remote working has led to labor inequalities in major European capitals including London, Paris, Madrid, and Berlin. Unemployment in the UK hit its highest level in five years last month and job offers have been harder to come by in all the cities and their countries. Meanwhile, remote jobs have thrived.

Sundar Pichai
Google plans to try and accommodate remote working indefinitely.

This is one of the major findings published in a report on remote working in European capitals, co-authored by OECD economist Lukas Kleine-Rueschkamp and the Indeed job portal’s chief research economist for the MENA area Pawel Adrjan.

Using data from the Indeed portal, they said: “Labour markets in these cities are being pulled apart in early 2021, with postings for higher-paid jobs performing better than those for lower-paid service jobs.”

Remote working as a factor of inequality

“The move to remote work is greater and more persistent in these cities than in other places and may be long-lasting,” the report said.

A survey conducted in January by the National Association for Business Economics (NABE) found that just one in 10 companies expected their employees to return to the office after the pandemic.

Major companies have recently extended their remote working policies, with Google planning to try and accommodate remote working indefinitely.

“Cities such as London have already experienced population declines,” Kleine-Rueschkamp and Adrjan added. They said that although it was unlikely that living in a major European capital would not have its perks after the pandemic, “the trends COVID-19 has initiated might weaken their appeal.”

Remote working does appear to be much more prevalent in major cities than in the rest of the country. Remote work increased 7.3% higher in Berlin than in the rest of Germany, and 5.4% more in Madrid than the rest of Spain.

london street
The report warned of the consequences of further decline in European capitals.

Paris and London had smaller disparities but they were still notable. Remote working growth was 4% higher in Paris than in the whole of France, and 2.4% higher in London than the rest of the UK.

Remote job offers previously constituted 5% of the overall workforce in Madrid in 2020 but stood at 15.7% a year later. In the rest of Spain, the rate has increased from 4% to 10.4%.

The report attributes this phenomenon to the fact that “postings in occupations suitable for working at home, like tech, finance, law, and marketing, are most prevalent in big cities.” In comparison, the service sector is heavily affected by remote working and could be “scarred for a long time,” especially in London and Paris.

Fewer jobs available than before the pandemic

The OECD report revealed that job markets in European capitals had been seriously hit by the pandemic. London was the worst affected, with 41% fewer vacancies at the end of January 2021 compared to February 2020.

Paris and Madrid both had around 25% fewer vacancies than before the pandemic, while Berlin had 8% fewer. Paris was the only instance where the capital was worse affected than the rest of the country.

The report warned of the consequences of further decline in European capitals, as their economic growth tended to outstrip the rest of the country. In the years prior to the pandemic, “GDP per capita jumped more than 12% in these cities, almost 3 percentage points faster than national growth.”

At the height of the pandemic-related job market contractions, however, capitals were affected more than the rest of the country.

Job openings in London were 57% lower than before the pandemic, 48% lower in Madrid, 42% lower in Paris, and 26% lower in Berlin. The report noted that “for much of 2020, job openings in these cities were between five and 15 percentage points lower” than the rest of the country.

The report said large cities would “a difficult adjustment period for some urban workers,” adding that “the pandemic’s labor market effects may be temporary for some sectors, but, for others, they may last.”

Policymakers should support displaced workers and those at risk of redundancy by offering comprehensive skills development strategies tailored to local conditions,” the researchers concluded.

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