Why reboarding is not a good term

With the pandemic receding, people will be getting together in the coming months. Office buildings re-filling, subways and motorways re-crowding. And employees “re-boarding”?

Some are referring to the process of getting people back to work as a re-boarding process, with obvious reference to onboarding, the process of including and welcoming a new employee.

It’s not a good term at all, and here’s why:

A typical onboarding curriculum involves the practicalities of the new job. Start date, how to get help with IT, documentation that needs to be read, important aspects of the new company’s leadership, vision, culture, warm messages of welcome from new bosses and colleagues, etc etc.

None of these elements have changed during the pandemic. And if we want to seriously address learnings and issues following more than a year of lockdown, the process of bringing people back to work will look nothing like on- or “re-“boarding.

What has changed the most during Covid lockdown is the way we socialize.

When getting back together, we can expect to feel rejected frequently (now that the handshake is no longer the default way of greeting).

Working from home may lead to us feeling excluded (especially when people that are now physically together “forget” the distance inherent in being the person attending virtually).

We may experience a feeling of uncertainty or even distrust of our colleagues – are they washing their hands properly? Are they vaccinated?

Bringing people back to the office will have emotional consequences, and these qualities are what should be addressed as part of a “re-gathering” program.

Psychological safety, the freedom to feel included, to learn, to contribute and to challenge the status quo is more important than ever before. How is your workplace doing for psychological safety? Can you freely talk about how you feel, and ask for what you need?