Why your new employees need the office

Starting a new job is a huge challenge. On top of the onboarding checklist, there’s the adaptation to a new team, a new environment and (in many cases) a new role.

It’s an information overload that will often leave new starters feeling overwhelmed and exhausted. And while all of that is going on there’s another task at hand – building an affinity with an entirely new culture and mission.

Although the future of work debate rolls on, the drive for people to feel connected to their employer and their colleagues in a meaningful way hasn’t gone anywhere.

Here’s why we feel every new joiner should get to experience the office from the very beginning, regardless of your hybrid work strategy.

Exposure to company culture

There’s a reason candidates often ask about the culture at your company during the interview process – they care about it! With so many opportunities out there, they want to know that their new environment is going to be the right fit for them.

While businesses have focused on ways to bring the remote workforce together over the last two years, physical space and human connection still sit at the heart of company culture. It may be feasible to maintain a shared mission remotely, but it’s difficult to bring people into it without first facilitating in-person connections.

Kitt's new report on the future of workspace suggests that providing new employees with the space to interact at the beginning of their journey is crucial in forming that initial engagement with the team, mission and values underpinning your company culture.

Productivity and engagement

The pandemic has forced businesses to rethink what productivity looks like for their teams. So much so, that the move away from the rigidness of traditional working hours is an increasingly popular topic in the conversation around employee engagement in a hybrid world.

The focus on employee engagement as a strategic business objective is greater than ever, and that’s because engaging your new cohort is not only beneficial for the individuals themselves, it’s also a key factor in long-term organisational success.

An in-office onboarding experience gives new starters the chance to engage with the company from the very start. Be it conversations around the office or a team social, these interactions are crucial in providing the foundations for productivity in the long run.

Giving working from home days a purpose

It may be the case that after a new starter’s onboarding ends, they're going to be working from home more regularly. In this scenario, there’s an even greater importance on the in-person introduction to the team and the company because it gives their remote-working days a purpose.

This can vary across functions, but having days in the office to collaborate on ideas and ask questions compliments days at home where employees can enjoy more thinking space. If they onboard remotely, it can be difficult to create the separation required for productivity.

One example here might be for your latest creative addition. Providing a workspace for them to collaborate and share ideas in gives their working from home days a purpose (the execution of those ideas).

Attracting and retaining graduate talent

Remote onboarding can be particularly difficult for employees who are new to the world of work. A full-time job is a complete change to university life or a part-time role, and it can be a challenge to adjust to that new environment when working from home.

On top of that, it’s often these employees who are excited by the prospect of the office because it provides them with an opportunity to meet new people, learn and embrace the culture at their new company. A recent survey on the future of work revealed that 34% of 18 to 24-year-olds are more likely to prefer a remote schedule of one day a week or less.

With this in mind, there will undoubtedly be a lot of questions during their first few weeks that they may not want to ask in video meetings or in a message. Your new starters will be seeking a comfortable environment in which they can make mistakes, ask questions and learn with support from their peers.

Bringing them into the workplace at the beginning of their journey can help to overcome these problems, facilitating in-person connections that will undoubtedly create an affinity and foster a sense of belonging that will ultimately increase employee retention.

Creating parallels in a remote-first company

Striking the right balance between an office-centric culture and a remote one is a challenge business leaders face this year. Some businesses have adapted well to working remotely, and see it as a long-term option for their future of work.

For those businesses, having an in-person onboarding experience may not be an option. Even if the new employee is willing to be office-first to begin with, they will only benefit from doing so if the rest of their team or the wider company are there too.

This doesn’t mean they should be left to their own devices. One strategy might be to have an onboarding ‘buddy’ assigned to each new starter for the duration of their first few weeks at the company. This was shown to be an effective way to boost new hire proficiency in a recent report on onboarding trends, but is still an initiative that a large proportion of companies are ignoring.

Buddying new starters up with employees outside of their team is a great way to help them acclimatise and understand how the wider company operates. They may not be able to get a tour of the office or an intro to the local lunch spots, but a remote buddy can still support the informal learning that usually happens in a physical environment.

Human connection in a hybrid world

Ultimately, what a remote onboarding experience cannot replicate is human connection. While the pandemic has given businesses the opportunity to embrace flexible working, physical space is still the foundation of company culture and new employees need to experience that from the get-go.

Post-pandemic, the office needs to be more than just a place to work. For new employees, it’s a space that provides them with the security difficult to achieve in a remote environment, and it also allows you to communicate your vision and ways of working to them in a meaningful way.

At Kitt, we believe in the value of the office. We help businesses to design and operate their own, private workspace where employees can innovate, collaborate and thrive. Head over to the How Kitt Works page to learn more.

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