With an influx of companies embracing the hybrid work environment, many professionals are planning to head back to the office in some capacity over the next year. 

As many companies introduce a myriad of options for employees to help with struggling retention rates (from full-time remote work to solely on-site to a combination of the two), this new-normal opens up the job market to a more extensive and diverse talent pool, including geographically distant professionals and new graduates looking for permanent positions. 

But, what does this mean for recruiters and hiring managers? A new challenge has arisen to make the transition onto the team seamless for new hires in a hybrid digital role -- including having them engulfed in the company's work culture, understand the dynamics of each team, build relationships with colleagues, and laying down the groundwork for their work. 

This is where a strong onboarding process comes into play. Understanding and adapting to each individual's unique needs is critical to ensure a memorable first impression that will lead to long-lasting success. Think: regular virtual check-ins with the entire team, building schedule for on-site workdays, embracing technology and giving full access to online files and applications. 

Get the Scoop on Their Work Preferences Before Building an Onboarding Plan

Aside from gathering personal information for all the nitty-gritty paperwork when building out the new employee's contract and setting up payroll, determine how many days they'd like to work from home and on-site, and consider what is happening in their lives before building out an onboarding plan. 

In addition to helping you plan training methods and schedule face-to-face meetings if necessary, asking the new hire what their preferences are right off the bat promotes that your company values work-life balance a a top priority. 

Put Your Onboarding Practices Under a (Virtual) Microscope

Evaluate your current onboarding process and make adjustments for it to be more streamlined and virtual-friendly. To better set new hybrid hires up for success, consider making a list that explains role expectations, deadlines, scheduling, and provides complete access to existing projects to gain a better understanding of company outputs. 

Also, set aside some time to walk new employees through software tools, virtual files and apps, while keeping in mind to support them collaboratively through screen sharing and video calls. Along with narrowing down day-to-day responsibilities and goals, this plan should also lay out a weekly schedule and expectations for the employee and the hiring manager to follow.

This is also the time to grant them access to all office equipment (laptops, monitors, etc.) and an office tour so that they feel ready and comfortable for their first day of work. 

Plan a Formal Introduction to Kickstart Team Bonding

One of the biggest challenges of the hybrid or remote working style is missing out on daily connections in an office environment. While a team coffee run or trying to solve a printer malfunction seems trite, it's commonplace activities like these that really foster healthy working relationships among coworkers. 

As building a sense of community and company culture is a key pillar to success in the workplace, plan a virtual meet and greet on the new hire's first day of work. For a more memorable experience, consider sending over a surprise welcome package.

Embrace Technology to Evaluate Performance

Your leadership team should prioritize having a robust support system for new hires, including by doing weekly check-ins and setting goals around performance in the first three months. 

However, don't feel the need to have all these check-ins in person! For employees who are adopting a hybrid work model, consider leveraging software that creates visibility into how your employees are engaged during the workday.

Applications like Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams are a great way to stay in touch daily without the need for a formal 1-hour meeting. Not only are these tools a great way to send a quick message, it also gives you insight into their behaviors, with the goal of ensuring your employees have the support and tools they need for long-term success.