NEWCOMER ADJUSTMENT AND SENSEMAKING IN REMOTE WORK ENVIRONMENTS Perspectives on remote onboarding in Higher Educational Institutions
The transition to remote and hybrid work environments due to the advancements in computer mediated communication and the COVID-19 pandemic, introduced challenges in the process of onboarding new hires. This research presents a case study on the remote onboarding process of new hires of Higher Educational Institutions in The Netherlands. The existing theories in organizational socialization and newcomer adjustment, as well as a reflection of the uncertainty reduction theory in the onboarding process are used as a foundation for this study. Through a qualitative inductive analysis and semi-structured interviews this study sheds light on the challenges of newcomer adjustment and sensemaking in remote onboarding. Findings suggest four dimensions that affect newcomer adjustment and sensemaking in remote work: 1) relationship building, 2) responsibility and accountability of newcomer adjustment, 3) managing well-being and the sense of belonging and 4) information seeking. This study makes three contributions. First, the study shows that the existing frameworks on socialization are compatible in the onboarding process in remote and hybrid work environments, as long as there are opportunities of relationship building between new hires and peers. Second, communication in key for establishing connections and sensemaking in the onboarding process, as communication is used in moments of uncertainty and sensemaking. Last, the approach towards relationship building is multi-dimensional, as it not only includes different ways of bonding, but also looks at the role of different stakeholders around the newcomer and the need for clear onboarding policies.