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New-Hire Onboarding in the Social Distancing Age: Show Them There’s a Plan

Published: April 3, 2020

Author: Jen Bialas

The COVID-19 era of social distancing is presenting unique challenges for almost every company, including how to work remotely with new hires to make them feel integrated, comfortable, and prepared to contribute in their roles. The 3Q Training team is providing a blog series to help organizations tackle the challenge.
Setting a good planning foundation is a universal need for onboarding, and it will be especially important in the next several weeks. Sharing an organized plan for your new teammate will demonstrate your level of commitment in ensuring that they’ll succeed in their new role.

Lay out the Plan

At minimum, I recommend that onboarding teams:
–          Share a schedule of the trainings that new hires will attend each day
–          Explain who’s running which session and the session’s format
–          List the new skills the new hires will develop in the training sessions
The secondary benefit to this approach is that it increases the likelihood that your new teammate develops a positive sense of belonging on their new team and understands that there’s a support system in place no matter how far away it might be.

Increase Reach and Frequency of Communication

Working from home once a week is a fantastic benefit. Unexpectedly working from home for several weeks at your new job is probably a lot less desirable.
One of the biggest things that we can anticipate our new teammates missing out on is interaction with their peers. The expected consequence of this is that they’ll feel less connected to the team and culture.
Create a plan to ensure that your new teammate doesn’t go an extended period without interacting with someone on your team. A quick glance at their calendar for blank spots can help you to understand when the most impactful times to reach out are. Getting other teammates in the mix to create a virtual welcoming committee isn’t a bad idea, either. Slack can be a particularly useful tool to use; at 3Q, a mix of professional-oriented channels and more personal/entertaining channels (pets! Books! The Bachelor!) is available to all employees, helping people across teams connect over knowledge-sharing and pop culture alike.
Feelings of isolation are one of the most common side effects of social distancing. Remember that new hires without ready-made social connections at work are especially vulnerable, and encourage teammates to help you in reaching out to bridge the distance.

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