Teams around the world and even down the street from each other can look very different. However, some challenges of workforce management are universal. Hubstaff is working with experts, academics, and leaders of remote and diverse teams to discuss these challenges and frame solutions that any manager can follow.

The first issue this series will consider is a top challenge in getting new employees up to speed when they work from different locations: time and space to ask questions.

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Onboarding must create belonging regardless of location

A core issue in modern workforce management is getting new employees up to speed when working from different cities, countries, or continents.

“The hardest part is to make remote hires feel like they belong and are part of the team, even though they can’t meet everyone in person,” says Mike Hagley, Digital Lead at Carbar. “Traditional onboarding involves tours, introductions, and personal meetings, which can be tough online. This disconnect can make remote workers feel isolated and less engaged.”

Remote-first companies can start tackling the issue by creating digital versions of many of these activities. That includes onboarding options within various tools, such as Hubstaff’s progress bar and support tools.

Consider using a mix of pre-made content and live engagement from HR or other team members. Your company may have an HQ that you could create a digital tour to show staff. Or, if you’re entirely remote, consider having individuals across the company create a 15- or 30-second video using a video trimmer to show off their workspace.

You want to find a way to invite new staff into your company’s spaces. It is a welcoming effort that can also create engagement. They see how your company works, and then a follow-up live conversation provides a chance to ask questions or get clarity on what they’ve seen. That work can make onboarding easier and serve as a powerful way to retain your top talent.

Companies must prioritize this clarity. Ambiguous asynchronous onboarding processes quickly lead to unrealistic expectations, misunderstanding of work, or bad habits that become ingrained. That’s true even if you use the best onboarding tools and platforms.

Increase time for feedback and reflection

Similarly, remote workforces can face challenges in consuming your onboarding activities and fully digesting them. Being removed from a team and location can make it more difficult for some members to understand their onboarding and put it into the proper perspective.

“Effective onboarding means providing the necessary information and resources without overwhelming them in a virtual setting,” said Hagley. “You want them to feel confident and ready to dive into work, even when working from home or another location.”

For best practices, that response translates into building more time for your team to step back from activities and tasks. Give them questions and ask for thoughts about practices. Directly ask how each unit or section of onboarding documentation relates to their work.

You want your new team members to think about what they’re seeing — requiring you to create time in their schedule for reflection.

Giving them more opportunities to work with a liaison or team member to ask questions can also be a smart idea. It’s also a great way to improve the one-on-one meetings you run, which are vital to reducing turnover. Don’t collect feedback and toss it into a black hole. Make use of it and share it with leaders as well as HR.

What’s essential is that this effort comes from a variety of team members. Onboarding questions and discussions should include more than just a direct manager or HR person.

We’ll keep answering more workforce management questions in this series and invite you to share your top concerns below. In the meantime, here’s a top resource to help you onboard, train, and support your remote workforce in 2023 and beyond.

Category: Workforce Management