Employers are still struggling with remote recruitment and onboarding processes three years after they were forced to adopt them, highlighting why office returns are so important. That’s according to global workplace design experts, Unispace.
In its study, Returning for Good, the firm found that 89% of employers felt more confident onboarding new staff in person, while 84% said they believed training was more effective on a face-to-face basis. Respondent organisations indicated it was more difficult to replicate training and onboarding processes as well as convey company culture and working styles virtually, and that new hires can miss out on valuable interactions as a result.
Four in ten employers also suggested that new hires have taken longer to get to the required level expected of them in a virtual environment. With the UK facing both a skills shortage and a productivity slump, Unispace advises that a return to in-person hiring and onboarding is needed, but it requires higher office return rates to ensure new recruits benefit from being in the workplace with peers.
Notably, new starters themselves also revealed that they too are struggling with virtual onboarding, specifically as they lose the ability to read body language and connect with their new colleagues (both cited by 17% of respondents) when carrying out these tasks online.
Julie Lecoq, Workplace Strategist and Change Management Specialist at Unispace, commented:
“It is clear that many firms are still struggling to get to grips with onboarding and training new hires remotely which is not particularly surprising. These are crucial points in the employer-employee relationship and it is challenging to replicate the process, and the value you gain from face-to-face interactions, even with the best technology in the market. Data from our Returning for Good study shows that the workplace offers an invaluable human connection that cannot be replicated on a virtual basis.
“The study suggests that both employers and their staff are yearning for the days when these processes were carried out on a face-to-face basis. This is a problem that businesses will find exceptionally hard to overcome as it is impossible to replicate the value gained from being in the office while being physically disconnected from colleagues. We know that mandating returns does not work, therefore businesses need to find a way to encourage their new starters and existing employees to want to be in the office, rather than relying on remote onboarding when it seemingly does not work. That can only be achieved by developing the right types of productive spaces that deliver on employee’s evolving needs post-pandemic and lead to staff wanting to work from the office on a more regular basis.”