At the height of lockdown 60% of the UK’s adult population were working from home.
As the Government urges people to consider returning to the workplace, new research from the CIPD shows employers expect that the proportion of people working from home on a regular basis, once the crisis is over, will increase to 37% compared to 18% before the pandemic.

Employers also expect the proportion of staff who always work from home to rise to 22% post pandemic, compared to 9% before lockdown measures started to be imposed.

The survey of 1,046 employers also shows that, overall, employers believe people working from home are as productive as other workers, with 28% of employers believing the increase in homeworking has increased productivity or efficiency, compared to 28% of organisations that report the opposite effect and 37% that don’t believe there has been any effect on productivity or efficiency.

Barclays Bank is already looking into a more de-centralised approach to staff working. The lockdown restrictions created the perfect platform to test concurrent remote working for 70,000 out of its 80,000 workforce.

The result has been an unexpected success. It remains to be seen whether this shift will lead to greater monitoring of employees working from home and how this will be reconciled with their right to privacy, but the long-term impact of Covid-19 on working trends seems inescapable.

The shift to increased homeworking comes with great opportunities, but also some challenges need to be addressed, such as:

How do you trust new remote workers with equipment and data?

What if the remote worker doesn’t do the work?

How do you incorporate company vision and values?

With most businesses having shifted to a partially or fully displaced workforce, employers need to come up with new and improved onboarding techniques to welcome remote workers

While it might seem like a similar process as an in-person orientation, remote onboarding can have its own unique challenges that businesses need to cater to. Overlooking those challenges could lead to overwhelming either the new starter or their departmental colleagues. Temporary requirements normally arise due to a specific, and often urgent, need so it is vital that correct measures are put into place.

We have developed several areas that need to be considered to ensure a successful onboarding process for individual, department and the wider business.

1. Honesty, transparency and trust – Truth, trust and transparency go a long way! Be honest about the current working from home expectations – what is working and what isn’t and set clear boundaries and achievable short-term objectives

2. Integration is key – Dampen distrust by involving new temp starters with all colleagues – help them understand what their role means to the bigger business picture and ensure there is some time for catch up coffees on a one-to-one basis.

3. Be present – Stay connected to them after their first day on the job. An onboarding program should be just as robust for temps as it is for permanent new starters.

4. Learn from mistakes – Speak with other hires that have started whilst working from home. Do more of what has worked and less of what didn’t.

5. Use the opportunity to underline company culture – Leaders need to ensure company culture exists, even without an office. Perhaps throw a happy hour or welcome lunch so the new employee can meet those they will be working with.

It’s important that it’s a collective effort to onboard a temporary employee during these circumstances. It will also help with your current employees – also let them take some responsibility and have them arrange suitable activities to drive this home.

6. Provide continuous support – New temporary employees may be nervous to ask their direct supervisor too many questions, position a mentor close to them who has experience in the work they are undertaking. Ensure there are daily catch-ups between the two, so that any issues are quickly solved.

7. Build custom employee engagement plans – Have a strategy and ensure it is adapted over time to something that is both relevant and achievable.

8. Give them a sense of belonging – This is where you may need to get creative. Prior to starting, provide a care package with their equipment (laptop/phone etc) – a branded pen, water bottle, polo shirt etc can go a long way to making a new starter feel like they belong.

9. Ensure data security – An important aspect of onboarding is ensuring that proper data security and robust information governance policies are in place. This will help ensure compliance with the organisation’s applicable privacy and security regulations.

10. Ask for feedback

Your main objective is to create an efficient online onboarding system that can get contract workers settled in quickly as possible – and there’s always room for improvement.

Check-in with new starters throughout their placement and ask them for honest feedback about how they’ve settled in and if there’s anything more you could have done. Ideally, you want to hear that temps and fixed-term staff are getting on great, however if it’s not going well, you can help them tackle early problems.

If you have successfully engaged with temporary employees remotely, we would love to hear what techniques you have utilised. Or maybe you have had a not-so-positive experience – what could have been done better?

References:

4 in 10 people anxious about returning to the workplace as government prepares to publish guidance | CIPD

Will working from home remain a perk or become a right? – Personnel Today

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