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How to onboard new employees and career starters remotely

This article is part of
Guide to hybrid working

Crispin Rapinet, partner and training principal at Hogan Lovells, adds: “We updated supervisor training to reflect changes during the pandemic, including guidance on how the supervisor should be checking in with their trainee daily and looking out for their wellbeing as well as developing them professionally.

“We have also run focus groups with first seaters [trainees in their first departmental rotation] to understand their experience of undertaking the Legal Practice Course online, a virtual induction and first seat. We have taken on board feedback and changed our processes to reflect this.”

Inta Nalivaiko, HR director at insurance brokers Aston Lark, says the hardest part is ensuring new joiners feel part of the team, as well as recreating the benefits of informal learning and social interactions.

Nalivaiko adds: “This is especially important for early careers and less experienced staff. Firstly, a really detailed induction plan is a must, including scheduling all required training, reading materials, people to meet and those who can help with a variety of issues.

“Secondly, having an assigned ‘buddy’ to help them find their way around and answer questions besides their line manager – it can take a level of confidence and maturity to come to your manager for help initially.

“We are more careful with assigning buddies for early careers joiners as less experienced staff won’t always know what questions to ask, so buddies need to be more proactive with their guidance.”

Replicating the office environment

For new colleagues at an earlier stage of their career, replicating opportunities that arise more readily in an office environment, such as overhearing conversations of experienced co-workers, can also be beneficial.

Aston Lark’s Nalivaiko says: “Shadowing and being invited into virtual meetings with your experienced colleagues during the early stages of employment, and having reflective development discussions about the content of those meetings, is the closest you can get to hearing your peers interact with customers and colleagues, so it should be used liberally.” 

There are also social benefits to recreating the community of an office environment. At True Potential, team fundraising activities have been key to uniting colleagues separated by remote working.

The group’s chief executive, Daniel Harrison, says: “All our new starters and our existing staff were encouraged to take part in weekly all-staff webinars and online social and charitable events.

“Our team fundraising was a key part of our staff engagement activities through 2020 and we’ve continued it this year. It’s been a great way to bring everyone together, including our new colleagues, while all working remotely.”

Chloe Cheung is a features writer at FTAdviser