COVID-19 Pandemic: Onboarding and Managing New Hires Remotely

The purpose of this guide is to provide managers with tools they can use to onboard and manage their new hires while working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are currently facing unique challenges in the workplace, so it is critical that we continue to support and manage all new hires as normally and consistently as possible as they join the Pitt community.

This guide will assist you as you think through what will need to be taken care of before a new employee’s start date, and how you can better manage them as they assimilate to their new position at Pitt and working remotely.

Ensure new hires have the hardware, software, and office supplies (desktop, laptop, etc.) needed. 

First, create a list of all the necessary hardware, software, and office supplies that will be essential to your employee’s success on the job. Here are a few things to take into account when creating your list:

  • If your department plans to provide these resources for the employee, make sure everything is ordered ahead of their start date and confirm the employee received and has properly set up all necessary equipment. 
  • If it is the employee’s responsibility to provide their own resources, please refer them to Pitt IT or your departmental IT worker to ensure everything is set up correctly. 

If you are not sure what hardware, software, or other resources are needed, please visit the IT Resources to Support Remote Work web page for more information or contact the 24/7 IT Help Desk online or by phone at 412-624-HELP (4357). 

Ensure new hires understand how to use essential communication tools, online meeting solutions, and file-sharing applications.

It is important that new employees understand how to share information, access documents, and keep information safe between them and their coworkers. Employees also need to understand who to go to with questions, and how to best contact those individuals, while working remotely. 

Here is a list of communication tools to consider:

  • Phone (cell phone, office phone, audio-conferencing, etc.)
  • Pitt mail (email client, web browser, phone, tablet, etc.)
  • Group messaging tools (Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, etc.) 
  • Video conferencing software (Skype for Business, Microsoft Teams, Go-To Meeting, Zoom etc.)
  • File-Sharing (Box, Dropbox, etc.)

If your new employee is having trouble setting up any of these communication tools, please refer them to the IT Resources to Support Remote Work web page for more information or have them contact the 24/7 IT Help Desk online or by phone at 412-624-HELP (4357).

Help new hires understand your departmental culture.

Many employees hired during this time will be starting their Pitt careers working remotely, which in and of itself, is a challenge. How do we ensure these new employees feel like they are part of our culture, even while they are away from the office? Here are few examples that might help:

  • Provide your new employee with the Staff Handbook and University Fact Book.
  • Have a conversation with them about your departmental values and expectations. 
  • Clearly define what is expected of them in this position by providing them a copy of their Job Description and reviewing their job responsibilities. 
  • Discuss how the provisional and appraisal periods are conducted.
  • Allow time for each new employee to complete the required training that is covered during new hire orientation.

Challenge supervisors to set specific goals and expectations for their new hires.

New employees who are working remotely should not wait until their manager is online to learn what their next tasks are for the day or work week. Some recommendations for hiring managers include:

  • Creating and sharing a task calendar for their new employee. 
  • Outlining short and long-term goals.
  • Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings to discuss upcoming projects and resolve potential concerns.

Arrange frequent meetings with your team members and other key employees. 

As a new employee, understanding who you will be working with on a daily basis and how to develop those relationships is critical. Below is a list of people the new employee should be introduced to, either before or on their first day:

  • Coworkers
  • Manager and direct reports
  • Employees from other departments they’ll work closely with

Schedule frequent calls to touch base. 

These calls will keep you apprised of any problems your new hire may be facing, and how they are settling into their new position. During these calls, get a feel for what they need to succeed in their new role, whether that’s support, resources, or additional work – and create a schedule to meet virtually every day, once a week, twice a week, or more. Each employee will have different needs, and being attentive to these needs will help them transition successfully.

Be a mentor or provide one to your new hire.

Every successful person has had a mentor at some point in their life, and creating a mentoring culture will be very beneficial to your new employee. Whether you are the mentor to a new employee, or you choose to match them up with a mentor within your department, cultivating this kind of environment will help your new employee get off to a great start at Pitt. Here are some of the attributes a good mentor should have:

  • Reliability
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Availability to help with questions and issues
  • Workplace success 
  • The desire to be a mentor

Providing a mentor to your new employee will help them be more accountable for their success, build relationships in their department, and have a designated person to go to with questions and concerns.

This is a challenging and unique time for new employees joining your team. By using these steps as guidance during this time, you can help your new employees get acclimated and thrive in their new work environment. As we move forward during the COVID-19 pandemic, please explore all resources and tools created to assist you, your department, and each of your employees in staying motivated and successful during this time on the COVID-19 Resources for Faculty and Staff web page.