Onboarding Employees for the Remote-Work Era
If your company is like most, you have more employees working remotely than ever before, and you are hiring new workers specifically for remote work. There are many concerns connected to this trend, which we discuss, below, but since we are an IT consulting firm, we’re most attuned to the technology challenges. You might be wondering, in this age of hacks and cyber-attacks, how you can make sure your communications with remote workers are secure and that the new workers you are onboarding will not be weak links in your security chain? At KMF Technologies, we can advise you on effective safeguards for your entire workforce.
Challenges of onboarding remote workers
The combination of advanced technology and worker demands for quality-of-life concessions have led many organizations to permit remote work. The Covid lockdowns only accelerated this process. Now that the pandemic has largely passed, many companies were hoping to reverse the trend and get workers back into the office. But many of them are raising the white flag and conceding that remote work is here to stay.
The benefits to workers are many: no grueling commute, better ability to respond to family demands, and fewer distractions from coworkers. But the shift to a remote workforce is not without concerns. How does management supervise to ensure productivity and quality work? How do departments that depend on employee synergy maintain the chemistry that drives innovation? How do organizations build a corporate culture that encourages ethical conduct and loyalty when workers are dispersed and siloed? And finally, how does a company successfully on-board new employees for remote work?
Onboarding concerns in the work-from-home era
Onboarding is the process of orienting the new employee to the company, and it has many facets:
- Organizational — Here, you introduce the new employee to the company, letting them know how the organization is structured and where they fit in. Your Human Resources department manages a slew of matters related to payment, withholdings, insurance, benefits, privacy, etc.
- Operational — Here you must explain workflow. To whom does your new employee report? Who are the members of your new worker’s team? Where do assignments come from? What are the expectations for performance? How is progress tracked?
- Social — An organization wants a new hire to feel like part of the team. This connection is necessary to ensure dedication, loyalty and ethical behavior. Studies have shown that the more integrated the workforce is into a positive company culture, the more productive the workforce and the less vulnerable the company is to losses from fraud and liability for aberrant behavior.
- Logistical — How exactly does the work get done? This is where IT becomes very important, because we’re talking about the software, hardware and networks that allow work to pass through the channels of your business processes. But your IT choices can also have a profound impact on the previous aspects of onboarding we’ve discussed.
Again, since we’re IT-focused, we’re going to suggest ways in which IT solutions can enhance your onboarding process, successfully integrate your new hire into the flow of operations, and keep your organization safe and secure. So, here are a few IT challenges you need to focus on:
- Equipment — You must arrange for computers and other necessary equipment to arrive at the remote location in advance of the onboarding process. In addition to computers, loaded with the appropriate software, employers should consider ergonomic office furnishings that can increase productivity and prevent repetitive stress injuries.
- Security — Most security breaches are not due to equipment failure, but employee errors that create vulnerabilities. You must establish explicit, easily comprehended policies and processes that enable workers to keep their devices secure, wherever they work. That said, your IT schema can introduce vulnerabilities that put company workstations are risk, whether they are remote or in the home office. We recommend a comprehensive approach to network security, which includes:
- Robust antivirus protections and internet security protocols
- Training on webcam security
- Company Virtual Private Network (VPN) for encryption of sensitive files
- Steps to strengthen the worker’s home Wi-Fi network
- Use of two-factor authentication whenever practicable
- Regular security re-training for all employees
A regular program of “cyber hygiene” for your remote workstations can significantly reduce security risks.
- Processes — Choosing the correct software and training your people in its usage is the key to smooth business processes. This includes the onboarding process. As remote onboarding has become more commonplace, software companies have developed onboarding software that addresses the challenges of remote onboarding. These programs can help you orient your new hires on all aspects of onboarding: organization, operational, social and logistical.
At KMF Technologies, we’re committed to giving our clients every technological advantage, and helping them avoid any pitfalls. We can evaluate your remote onboarding processes to ensure that the IT aspects are meeting today’s highest standards.