After being forced to work exclusively from home for a period, surveys show that over 97% of workers would like to work remotely (at least some of the time) for the rest of their career. To address these employee expectations, most companies in 2022 are busy designing the ideal “hybrid workplace.”

Onboarding has proven to be one of the most significant challenges in designing this hybrid workplace. Even before the shift to remote-working, onboarding was a complicated and time-consuming process. Effective onboarding involves coordinating with different departments, preparing technology and equipment for the new hire, making introductions, transferring knowledge, and so much more. Now that most onboarding is done remotely, plenty of HR teams are facing new challenges.

At Octagon, onboarding is one of the most important tasks we take on for our clients – and we’re no strangers to the challenges of remote onboarding. Here are a few pitfalls to avoid while you onboard new hires to your company in 2022.

Pitfall 1: Not taking the lead when introducing your new hire to colleagues

In an in-person workplace, new hires can easily meet their colleagues by just existing around the office. HR teams can help new hires meet their colleagues by planning a few “meet-and-greet” style meetings with work-relevant colleagues – but they still miss out on getting to know other colleagues from different teams/departments. More often than not, it’s these relationships that can make a new hire excel at their role.

However, what we are finding in a completely remote or hybrid work environment is that new hires feel directionless and, frankly, awkward making introductions while remote. Even if you ask your new hires to come into the office throughout their onboarding, they can still miss meeting remote-working colleagues.

What’s the solution? For starters, don’t give up on those “meet-and-greets” or team-building events – especially when there’s an influx of new hires. Don’t necessarily expect your new hire to make all the connections they should without guidance from your team, and their managers. As HR, you should have a check-in plan in place for the new hires that join the team. These check-ins will give your new hires space and opportunity to voice their challenges acclimating to their new role so your team can offer support.

Pitfall 2: Losing track of office equipment

The past years have required HR teams to get-wise to supply chains (or a lack thereof) to perform administrative duties. While 2022 is predicted to have significantly fewer shipping issues, it’s still easy to lose track of equipment between furnishing both the company’s office and your new hire’s home-office.

Take an in-depth look into how the process of office equipment is managed – ideally during the new hires onboarding phase. Don’t be afraid to loop in other stakeholders – such as managers – to help your team keep track.

Pitfall 3: New hires don’t have a “buddy”

In in-person workplace environments, new hires would often have somebody “looking over their shoulder” or at least a few people within eyesight that can answer on-the-spot questions. But what does this look like in remote environments? Sending the question in your company’s chat for all to see? Sending an email to everyone in your company’s email group? Calling the office line and chatting with whoever picks up?

Assigning a “buddy” to a new hire is a practice that has existed since long-before the shift to remote-work. During the shift to remote work, the onboarding buddy was one of the most successful onboarding practices we have experienced. Without a dedicated go-to person, new hires can easily waste their own time trying to way their way on their own.   

Pitfall 4: Letting your company culture fall to the wayside

As much effort as you may put into designing a company culture – your company’s culture will always be developed organically by your people. During the onboarding process, new hires look to your company culture to understand how to behave at work; and they tend to model their behaviour after their colleagues. In remote working environments, it’s easy to neglect nurturing your company culture by focusing too much on the purely “practical” aspects on onboarding.

The most successful employers who onboard remotely encourage a collaborative company culture. Even if your company culture is naturally more independent, consider introducing opportunities for collaboration to help your new hires acclimate. Regular team events or a company chat platform are both sure-fire approaches to get your employees communicating.

Pitfall 5: Relying on a “one-size-fits-all” onboarding program

No question – it is easier, less time-consuming, and more straightforward to develop a single onboarding program and apply it to all new hires. However, it’s also the best onboarding approach to run into the four preceding pitfalls!

It is unlikely there is going to be one onboarding approach that works for every new hire you bring on. Everybody has different personalities, strengths, and perceived challenges to overcome as they get acclimated to their new role. Take the time to find out what new hires need to feel comfortable at work – and where they need support. Consider adopting different approaches for different departments, roles, or even personality types.