In recent times, there has been a growing trend among various industries, from law firms to tech companies, that is urging employees to return to the office. While CEOs are making this call, citing a lack of mentoring opportunities in the world of remote work, it's essential not to overlook the numerous studies that have debunked the productivity argument in favor of in-person work.
Remote work offers numerous benefits that have been observed in various contexts. One particularly noteworthy aspect is the successful implementation of remote mentorship.
For instance, in the case of a young professional who held a pioneering role at a college, the traditional, in-person mentorship opportunities were lacking due to the unique nature of their position. To address this gap, their supervisor took a proactive approach by establishing a remote mentorship with an expert located in a different part of the country.
This remote mentorship was meticulously structured and goal-oriented, involving bi-weekly hour-long calls and email exchanges. Surprisingly, it surpassed the impact of previous in-person mentorships, despite the absence of physical proximity. This example underscores the potential of remote mentorship as a viable and effective alternative to in-person work, particularly when more managers are citing mentorship as a reason for in-person work requirements. Understanding the key elements that contribute to the success of remote mentorship is crucial in this evolving landscape.
MAKE MENTORSHIP INTENTIONAL
Merely being in the same physical location doesn't guarantee effective mentorship. While some relationships may develop organically, employees who prefer remote work may not readily engage in such interactions. To foster effective remote mentorship, a structured mentor-mentee relationship is key, with clear expectations. Each party should set goals, create a written contract outlining their responsibilities, and specify the initial duration of the engagement. This deliberate approach ensures mentorship remains a priority, even in remote settings.
Time is a valuable resource, and mentorship involves effort and commitment. To ensure mentorship thrives, it's essential to compensate mentors for their time and expertise. This not only acknowledges their value but also encourages them to invest more effort into the mentorship. Compensation reinforces the importance of mentorship and ensures it doesn't become a secondary concern.
LOOK OUTSIDE OF YOUR ORGANIZATION
While internal mentorship within your organization is valuable, an external perspective can be equally beneficial. My mentor, although from the same industry, worked for a different company. This external viewpoint was invaluable for me as a young professional navigating the industry. For newcomers or those transitioning roles, starting with an internal mentor may be beneficial. As experience grows, seeking mentors from different companies or even unrelated industries can offer a broader perspective.
Virtual connections often come with distractions at your fingertips. To overcome this, prioritize focused communication. Avoid constant multitasking by adopting strategies such as traditional phone calls. I often took calls while walking or gazing out the window to maintain focus. Guard the scheduled mentorship time as a priority, preventing other work commitments from encroaching.
It's high time we dispel the misconception that remote mentorship cannot be effective. The resources invested in physical office spaces could be redirected towards intentional remote mentorship, preserving the flexibility and autonomy that today's employees value. With the right approach, remote mentorship can lead to even higher levels of engagement and productivity than traditional in-person arrangements.