What are the most effective tactics to help your new hires accelerate real connection and a sense of belonging with the current team in a remote or hybrid environment?
To help new employees integrate better within their team in a remote or hybrid environment, we asked business professionals and leaders for their insights. From assigning a mentor to providing virtual shadowing, there are several tactics that you can use to connect new hires with an existing team.
Here are nine ways to help new hires feel a sense of belonging in a digital workplace:
- Vary Your Strategy by Professional Experience
- Clearly Present Internal Structures
- Introduce a Buddy System
- Assign a Mentor
- Incorporate Culture Into All Parts of the Business
- Hold NonFormal One-on-Ones
- Focus on Teamwork and the Right Tech
- Use Apps for Onboarding and Connection
- Start Remote Team Building Events
Vary Your Strategy by Professional Experience
If the new hires are freshers, allowing them to virtually shadow their team members for a few days is a great way to assimilate them into the team. They will be open to learning new ideas and concepts, witness practical demonstrations, and really value their mentors.
If the new hires already have professional experience, have short and timed after-work video calls with different team members to facilitate exchanges of information, introductions, and resolve queries. This can be an informal exchange in the presence of the manager or a leader, where team members help set the right expectation and provide support.
Joe Flanagan, VelvetJobs
Clearly Present Internal Structures
The remote environment limits the casual conversations in the kitchen or near the water cooler. In turn, many employees only know the colleagues they work with directly, missing valuable information about how the work of different teams is related and where potential synergies lay.
Making sure to educate new joiners on the broader landscape of internal structures and responsibilities will help them understand the common goals and values. They will also integrate better with those whose scope of work and roles they know.
Michael Sena, SENACEA
Assign a Mentor
One way to promote real connections in a remote team is to assign a mentor to the new hire. The chosen mentor should be someone in the company who has a strong sense of company culture and can help the new hire build connections with others. The mentor may host a daily catch-up call where the new hire is free to ask questions, get advice, and build a relationship with the mentor. This initial relationship will help the new hire form a sense of belonging in his or her new remote workspace.
Adrian James, Markitors
Incorporate Culture Into All Parts of the Business
I believe your company culture, like its DNA, should be a dynamic, breathing entity that manifests itself in every encounter and touchpoint inside the organization. This means that your recruiting and onboarding processes should reflect company culture in order for prospects and, eventually, new hires to feel it. Again, this can help lay the groundwork for greater remote inclusion.
Steve Scott, Spreadsheet Planet
Hold Non-Formal One-on-Ones
One of the most effective ways to get new hires to accelerate real connection and a sense of belonging with the current team in a remote or hybrid environment is to facilitate non-formal one-on-ones that help bring the team together. These one-on-ones should be less about work and more about getting to know each other on a personal level. The mood should be casual, and the employee should feel comfortable being themselves. This is a great way to learn more about the new employee and help them feel more comfortable with the team.
Tyler Read, PT Pioneer
Focus on Teamwork and the Right Tech
With technology as we have it, there are thousands of team members who work more productively with a coworker across the country, than one sitting in the same office. The hybrid work model is all about connecting people and, with the right tools and apps, something like geographical location doesn’t have to stand in the way.
Focus on teamwork, with different groups working on multiple tasks, so that everyone has an opportunity to get acquainted and support each other in a multitude of ways.
Marc Atiyeh, Pawp
Use Communication Apps for Onboarding and Connection
While Slack is our team’s way of communicating throughout the day, it also works as an excellent tool for onboarding new team members and a fun way for our remote employees to get to know each other. With the Bored app, we can help break the ice for our employees by answering quirky questions that give a little insight into our personalities while getting everybody laughing.
Some of the more off-the-wall responses end up becoming running gags that pop up here and there in our direct messages, helping lighten the mood in a lengthy communication. The Bored app on Slack boosts morale and helps everyone know that they’re part of the team.
Summer Romasco, Ad Hoc Labs
Introduce a Buddy System
While most of us have gotten used to remote work and enjoy a new level of flexibility in our work lives, it’s challenging when new hires join the team. Team bonding, genuine connection, and a sense of belonging are essential for long-term job satisfaction and general well-being.
That’s why it’s crucial to integrate your new employees from the very beginning. Next to regular onboarding, we offer a buddy system for every new employee who joins our organization. This additional support channel helps our new hires feel more at ease in their daily work and get to know their colleagues faster in a virtual environment.
We’ve observed that the best approach is when buddies are up to one level higher in the organizational hierarchy. That way, the relationship is more symmetrical and makes it easier for new employees to open up and share their problems with a trusted colleague.
Dorota Lysienia, LiveCareer
Start Remote Team Building Events
With the advent of remote work, the pandemic brought unparalleled levels of separation and alienation as team bonds disintegrated via lack of face-to-face connection. However, one tactic we’ve successfully implemented during the lockdowns has been remote happy hours and game nights.
While still not the same as hanging out in person, these quickly became a fan favorite. Whether it was favorite photos, charades, Monopoly, or a drink-making class, we were all able to get to know each other better and foster friendships.
When the lockdown (finally!) ended, meeting vis-a-vis was all the more fun and exciting as we already knew each other in a different context than just the work environment. We have done Dave & Busters, go-karting, and an escape room. We plan on doing team integrations at least once a quarter (or more) and hope to make them a wonderful tradition.
Peter Bryla, ResumeLab