A recent Gallup survey shows that in 2016, 43% of American workers spent at least some of their time working remotely. While most industries have embraced remote work, the companies with the greatest increases have been in the real estate, finance, and insurance sectors.
Remote work is the wave of the future. Technology has connected us in a way that can never be reversed. But we all know that despite having a variety of tools for working together across the country, it isn’t always easy to make remote work productive. Mentoring, which is inherently relationship based, can be especially tough.
Here’s the good news: those who spend 3-4 days working remotely have found that they were “most likely of all employees to strongly agree that someone at work cares about them as a person, encourages their development and has talked to them about their progress.” Who does that person sound like? A mentor! So, as it turns out, remote work and mentoring can easily go hand-in-hand.
What are some keys to make it happen?
- Technology— Early advancements in digital communication made remote work possible. Today, technology has kept up with a variety of options created specifically for remote work. Check out this list, but our tip? Keep using good old fashioned phone calls or their 21st century equivalent, the video call. When it comes to mentoring, you need a voice at least, and hopefully a face as well.
- Schedule in Advance— In the first mentor/mentee meeting, it’s best for both parties to schedule their upcoming meetings. When one party is working remotely, it can be tough to find time to even schedule a follow-up meeting, let alone have it! If both participants are remote, the chances get even lower. If you’re the mentoring program administrator, remind the mentee that it’s their job to get those times confirmed on the agenda.
- Mentees Choosing Mentors— Beth N. Carvin, CEO of Nobscot Corp. says that remote mentees can go one of two routes when choosing a mentor– either choose a mentor who works or has worked remotely themselves so that they can offer their advice or choose a mentor who is in the office full-time, so that the mentee feels more connected to the hive.
If your goal is to grow your mentorship program, you’ll need to make sure it’s extended to your remote employees. In fact, it might even spark upper level management to feel more comfortable with the idea of remote work in general.