Linda Wong - CEO & Partner, Wong Fleming - US - New Jersey

Onboarding and training should be uniformly developed and provided to all new hires, and training should be consistently provided with in-person and video conferencing meetings to discuss office procedures, work assignments and strategies for problem-solving.

Many classes for continued professional growth are provided remotely and should be uniformly provided to all employees. Where employees are also active in certain professional organisations, employers should also encourage their membership and consider paying for membership dues and subscriptions to professional journals.

Lionel Paraire - Partner, Galion Société d'Avocats - France

Working from home increases time devoted to human resources and administrative management tasks, team leadership, individual follow-up and activity coordination. By complicating individual exchanges and team cohesion, teleworking also has a mainly negative impact on team management.

It is also important to adapt management styles to this way of working, with less control and more interaction with the employee. More than ever, the manager must guarantee the cohesion of the team, by inventing new sociability rituals; by communicating more and better, and; by establishing a solid relationship of trust.

The employer's power of management or supervision must still be exercised remotely, while respecting the teleworker's privacy. The collective agreement drawn up by the employer must determine the time periods during which the employer can contact the teleworker.

Since 2016, French employees have a ‘right to disconnect' and companies have to include this topic in annual mandatory negotiation, as well as regulating the use of digital tools to ensure respect for rest and leave times as well as personal and family life.

Diana Neagu - Partner, Vernon | David - Romania

A good onboarding program is an essential first step when it comes to welcoming new employees. Beyond learning policies, internal regulations and manuals, the actual introduction of the layout of the location where off-line work will be performed is very important. This became even more obvious during the pandemic, when it took some new employees months to visit the location after starting work with an employer. However, since onboarding was done online, we have met unfortunate cases where employees were not able to properly grasp the functionalities of their offices on location when they had to resume work in-person, leading to significant mental distress to employees and potential liabilities for the employer. Therefore, learning from this period, we strongly advise that all onboarding is done both online and on-location (in smaller groups) once employees start to resume work on-location. 

With respect to training, in our view a hybrid work culture creates the perfect opportunity to ensure that all employees have access to the same level of training. We believe that businesses should redirect part of their offline training session budgets towards a combination of online and offline training aimed at smaller groups. In our experience, although cost is always an issue, we have found that employees seem to benefit more from smaller group training rather than large group offline training.

Rebecca Torrey - Partner, The Torrey Firm - US - California

The onboarding and training of employees is critical to the success of any workforce, particularly a hybrid work arrangement. Onboarding may occur virtually or require in-person meetings depending on job requirements, company practices and budget. In all cases, employers should have an intentional and welldesigned process in place for new employees that considers the circumstances of their hybrid arrangements.

Initial formal job training typically consists of an overview of: company policies and procedures; work expectations; company culture; use of equipment; perks and benefits; as well as job skills and know-how. Informal, on-the-job training that naturally occurs when working with others should not be overlooked or minimised. Employers with remote workers need to find ways to replicate the collaborative learning and team building that occurs when people are together in the same place. This is the area where I see the most challenges and frustration.

Learning to work better is an ongoing process for employees. Remote work may require additional communication and oversight to assess an employee's knowledge of job requirements and understanding of company culture. It can take longer, with new methods needed to become acquainted with co-workers and develop rapport. Some employees feel disassociated and unguided because of inadequate interaction with management. That can be a source of problems in employee retention. Managers may need training and coaching on how to communicate, develop teamwork and supervise their team more effectively in hybrid work arrangements.

Shilpen Savani - Partner, gunnercooke llp - England

The starting point is to create a clear homeworking or hybrid working policy, which can be added to the employee handbook so that it is available for all staff to access. The policy should set out whether employees are required to submit formal flexible working requests (if eligible) to request a contractual change reflecting the agreed arrangement, or whether a policy of discretionary hybrid working is preferable. Some employees may value a flexible arrangement, but others may prefer a formal contractual change.

As far as recruitment and onboarding is concerned, it is important to provide clear information to candidates during the recruitment process about the opportunities for flexible and hybrid work and, wherever possible, share specific information about the flexible working options that are available. Appropriate training should also be given to the recruiting managers and virtual interviews are to be encouraged to maximise accessibility for all candidates.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has recently published practical guidance for the government's flexible working task force. Their tips include: provision of training according to a candidate's experience of remote working; helping new workers to structure their work to separate the workplace and home; building social connection as soon as possible; providing a buddy for new starters to go to for support, and; ensuring that new starters have all the technology equipment and access to systems they need to work effectively from their first day.

Gabriel Bleser - Partner, Bonn Schmitt - Luxembourg

The Convention specifically addresses the subject of training, which states that the principle of equal treatment between teleworkers and regular workers must be respected, particularly regarding access to training and career development.

The Convention gives two practical tips to companies. Firstly, to avoid any discrimination against teleworkers, training in remote working and its management can be set up. Secondly, so that everyone can equally benefit from the advantages of teleworking, distance learning and technology, teleworkers shall receive appropriate training on the equipment available to them and the characteristics of remote working.

The process of onboarding new employees is not specifically covered by the Convention. However, it does state that employers must ensure measures are taken to prevent teleworkers' isolation, by giving them opportunities to meet regularly with colleagues and access company information, which also applies to onboarding processes.

In this spirit of preventing isolation, other recommendations include: starting the onboarding process before an employee's first day, in order to make their first days less overwhelming; focussing those first days on personal connections over paperwork, to improve morale and relationships between co-workers; setting up virtual team welcome events, and; presenting the offices, even remotely, so that when workers need to work from the premises, they feel welcome.

Gerd Müller-Volbehr - Partner, ACURIS Rechtsanwälte - Germany

Employees need continuous learning and training to keep pace with the demands of Work 4.0. In addition, newly emerging professions require ever higher qualifications. Soft skills such as personal responsibility, time management and adaptability are becoming more important to be successful. Training and education should be ensured through classroom events and online courses, and every employee should be offered the opportunity to participate, for the benefit of the company and the employee.

Mark D'Alelio - Founder, Legal Asean - Thailand

In this ‘new normal' training seems to be more remote based, especially given Covid-19 restrictions in place around group gatherings. Will these restrictions ease over time? Certainly one would hope so, but this does afford companies the opportunity to refine their training methods to accommodate more remote and ITbased learning. Again, this must start with changing the internal culture to align to the ‘new normal'.

Thailand has a rich and distinctive cultural tradition and the same can be said of Thai companies. Where the work force is older, changing these traditional mindsets will be important to foster change when it comes to training.

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The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.