As the global pandemic COVID-19 continues to upend the traditional workplace, with the CDC urging employees to work remotely when possible, the digital workplace is becoming a new reality—especially for those in the tech industry. There is a vast set of digital tools, from video conferencing platforms to collaboration software to help make the transition possible.
But while it may be one thing to transition current employees from the physical to digital office, companies must turn attention to another hurdle: How to train new employees for the remote office during COVID-19.
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The enterprise is in need of fresh and innovative ways to train and onboard new employees as they begin work online. Here are four ways it can be done, according to the experts:
1. Get your processes in order
Before you get any new employees on board, it’s important to make sure your processes are organized. Making sure the documentation of everything is up-to-date is critical, and even more so when you’re onboarding with remote workers.
“Even with chat tools like Slack, there is less ability to ask the person next to you where something is or how something is done at your organization,” said Wally Nowinski, head of marketing at Collage, a work-from-home company.
“The way you solve this is by ensuring all of your internal processes and projects are well documented, and make keeping that documentation up to date a regular part of your work process,” he added.
Additionally, having employee equipment, software, and email accounts delivered and set up ahead of time is key.
2. Make face-to-virtual-face introductions
Because work-from-home means employees will be shuffling over to their home coffee maker—perhaps in pajamas—instead of gathering at the office break room, it’s important to ensure that they meet other colleagues, as this won’t be happening organically.
“You can solve this by scheduling getting-to-know-you calls for every new hire with key people in the organization they are not working with directly,” said Nowinski. “This helps put a human connection behind the names people see in Slack and emails.”
3. Encourage digital engagement
Working remotely can be an isolating experience—especially when you don’t already know your colleagues. According to Renato Profico, CEO of Doodle, it’s critical to ensure that digital onboarding is engaging.
“When employees are physically distanced from their team members and managers, it can be easy for them to isolate themselves and disengage with others,” he said. “This is especially true for new hires who haven’t had the chance to experience the company’s culture quite yet.”
Profico recommends that employees are offered digital tools to help make the transition smoother, such as creating separate Slack channels. He also suggests keeping activities and meetings “as focused and engaging as possible” in order to reduce the stress of the process.
4. Integrate new tech like AR
It’s time to think outside the box, and leveraging new tools like augmented reality (AR) for training and onboarding can help employers scale the process across various locations. AR can be used to update manuals and tutorials and upload new content, which can also save time and money, said Emil Alon, CEO and founder of Resonai.
Additionally, the experiences using AR may prove more engaging for new employees, he stresses, which can improve the way they pick up new and complicated material.
“I would advise HR departments to start looking into how they can implement new technology—AR included—to help recreate their company culture from different locations,” Alon said. “There’s no time table to when this is going to end, so it’s better to get ahead of the curve now and stabilize your infrastructure.”