If the office is for off-sites, how does onboarding work?

The way we live and work has changed forever -- and our workspaces are changing alongside. According to the Office of National Statistics, 84 percent of workers who worked from home planned to carry out a mix of working at home and in offices in the future, while research from Poly shows 77 percent of businesses are redesigning their office spaces to better suit new ways of working.

What constitutes an "office" is a very broad definition -- it could be a home, a local café or pub, or an actual physical office. And the role of the company office has changed. More than everyday tasks, it’s now a space for special events and meetings that would once have happened at an off-site.

Off-site onboarding

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While hybrid and fully remote working can offer employees the best of both worlds, allowing them to pick the workspace that best suits them, it also creates new challenges. Now that the genie is out of the bottle, it isn’t a surprise that employees and businesses are seeing the bright side.For example, with people no longer 'office-bound', it’s opened opportunities for enterprises to hire skilled workers from far and wide.

But these fully remote and hybrid workers now demand new ways of approaching tasks such as onboarding. For instance, a fully remote employee won’t have the same experience joining a business as one who has spent every day of their working life in the office. Yet they will need just as thorough an onboarding session as their in-office or hybrid working colleagues to start on an equal footing.

Making a success of hybrid, remote, or in-person working

However, onboarding needs to be more than just a single session -- whether done in person or remotely. Workplace IT is often complex and it can be difficult to navigate complications with applications and other tools. For instance, how many of us encounter technology problems even after we’ve had an initial training session? Probably 99.9 percent. But when working remotely, finding a solution isn’t as easy as simply walking over to the IT desk (or the resident expert) and asking for help anymore.

With so many applications in the modern enterprise, it can be confusing knowing how to use all of them. This hasn’t changed just because of hybrid or remote working. In fact, it can be trickier now that there’s a lack of visibility into how employees are working day to day. It’s critical that employees receive thorough onboarding and support that can help them do their job. The solution? Investing in the right approach to adopting technology so that staff don’t experience digital frustration and burnout.

Too often, enterprises take a one-size-fits-all approach to onboarding, failing to tailor the experience to employees’ individual roles or needs. For example, those returning to the workplace after a long absence might not have basic familiarity with newer technology -- making the volume of 'catching up' that’s expected of them seem overwhelming. If businesses personalize the onboarding experience, they can get the most out of people and make software easy for employees to start using immediately.

Enterprises that implement technology adoption best practice into the onboarding process can support people in using digital tools to their fullest extent by guiding them through each application, step-by-step. This is particularly important for enterprises that have adopted hybrid or remote working. However, even those working from an office will benefit greatly from an on-screen guide on how to use their technology tools on the job. Anyone who works with applications or software on the job risks losing efficiency by not fully understanding how to use the technology and wasting time and energy trying to figure it out.  

Most enterprises are familiar with customer journey mapping --  looking at customer interactions with the business to identify pain points and understand how to perfect the customer experience. Taking the same approach in-house and mapping employee journeys with their own applications can help show how and where to improve the employee experience.

If businesses can have visibility into how employees use applications, when, and for what purposes, they can identify pain points and where people need support to fully adopt applications, harness technology tools, and be successful at work.

A business can only run if it has support

How we work may have changed forever, but these changes shouldn’t impact the results companies see from their employees. People can still work as productively as when they had been grounded in one place. But to continue having this seamless, consistent, and professional experience, technology must play a major role.

The applications and tools that businesses invest in are only good if they can be understood by the people using them. This requires an approach to digital adoption that helps create pathways towards understanding and navigating software. So regardless of whether their office is for off-sites, employees can be onboarded in a way that’s just as productive.

Image credit: iqoncept/ depositphotos

Chelsea Pyrzenski is Global Chief People Officer at WalkMe.

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