The benefits of mentoring in the age of remote working

mentoring

Ed Johnson, CEO and Founder of mentoring and career development platform PushFar discusses how mentoring can help to support career progression and team building in an era of remote working.

The past two years have seen a paradigm shift in the way that we work, with the move towards remote working as a result of the pandemic. Many say it is the most significant change in the world of work since the industrial revolution, with signs suggesting that it is not just a temporary trend forced upon us but a long-term impact of COVID-19 that it is here to stay. A number of the biggest blue-chip companies have changed their strategy, with employees told they can or should work remotely permanently going forwards. One result of this change in our day-to-day working environment is that if businesses have not already done so, they will need to reassess how they build cohesive teams and ensure effective sharing of knowledge.

In general, satisfaction with this new working arrangement seems widespread, and a recent poll that we carried out at PushFar showed that 85% of 25-65 year olds approve of it. However, the youngest workers (25 or below) reported the lowest levels of enjoyment (75%) and the highest levels of dissatisfaction (10% – compared to 6% for other age groups). The reality is that, while there are many indisputable benefits of the flexible nature of WFH, there is a side to it which shouldn’t be ignored, whereby workers may be missing out on the camaraderie and in-person interactions that come with office working, that can boost both productivity and morale.

There is also the issue of onboarding new joiners. A recent study of 250 C-level executives in the UK found that nearly a third (30%) of business leaders believe it’s been challenging for young people to onboard when starting their first day from home.

As a result, many would acknowledge that there is a need to help build and encourage social connections and relationships at work. After two years of Covid restrictions and remote working, there is a recognition that young people’s ability to build meaningful relationships with colleagues has been impacted.

Companies that wish to promote and encourage a strong collegiate team in this era of remote working need to be prepared to make more functional and structural changes to ensure that people looking to join or progress their careers there can build supportive relationships with colleagues and have role models to turn to throughout the business. Expecting individuals to make those links and connections without help, as they might have understandably been left to their own devices to do in the past, is far more complicated than it has been in the past and may well lead to a disconnected and disengaged workforce.

Mentoring can be one of the most valuable tools that companies can deploy to support new or more junior employees as they navigate the difficulties that COVID-19 has created. By connecting a young workforce to those with experience, there can be huge benefits both for the individual and the company in the skills and knowledge they can pass on, which people are potentially missing out on without the in-person exposure. There are benefits for more senior colleagues, too, not only in the satisfaction they may feel from supporting fellow employees but in the strength of the relationships they have with the rest of the team and the unity of purpose that it helps to create.

A program that effectively connects individuals with appropriate mentors helps build relationships within the business and encourages career development and retention. Evidence shows that employees feel motivated and supported when they see senior leaders with whom they can relate. In PushFar’s survey, a third of the respondents said that mentoring significantly helped them tackle the challenges of remote work, with that number rising to 49% for 18-24 year olds.

As well as the opportunity to learn from colleagues, a critical issue that many people face when working from home in the long term is isolation, and companies need to be mindful of doing what they can to assuage this. They can look at providing networking opportunities (both in-person and virtual) and ways of strengthening online communications between colleagues. A good mentoring program can help support mental health and wellbeing in the workplace by removing the sense of loneliness.

There is no one answer when it comes to fine-tuning the best new ways of supporting employees and team building. Still, the reality is that our working environment has changed. Companies need to be prepared to address it, taking a proactive and progressive approach to looking at all the options available. Mentoring can potentially be a vital part of that puzzle, helping maintain a motivated and engaged workforce.

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Ed Johnson

Ed Johnson is CEO and Founder of PushFar, a cloud-based career progression and mentoring platform that makes mentoring more accessible and effective for individuals and organizations. With a background in digital marketing and online business growth, Ed now works closely with HR directors and Learning & Development Managers in organizations across a wide range of industries and sectors, helping to unlock mentoring and employee potential.

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