E-Mentoring Remote Workers
Way back in the Pre-COVID Days, Commuting was quite a chore. To get to work, one, sometimes, had to spend hours in cars on clogged freeways spewing greenhouse gases, polluting our environment. If one was conscientious about it and used public transportation, they got to spend their commute time in crowded subways with people who may not have showered.
Also, companies were limited to having team members who were close enough to actually make it into the office, lest they pay the moving expenses as long as that potential team member actually wanted to move to the part of the world where the company is located. Work from Home seems like it is a good deal for both the company and employees, so why was everyone so reluctant to implement this until COVID 19 forced their hand?
Along with the advantages to remote work, there are also barriers. There are several barriers to remote work which could limit its effectiveness. Dan Schawabel (2018) found that despite the benefits that telecommuting provides, remote workers feel isolated, lonely, and out of communication with their company and fellow team members. They lament the lack of relationships, and they see themselves not working at the company long term.
These problems are causing companies to reverse their telecommuting initiatives and utilizing their budgets on real-estate for their employees to work, despite the advantages of Working from Home (Schawbel, 2018).
There are, however, actions that organizations can take to make remote work arrangements work. One of these actions is E-Mentoring remote workers. E-mentoring is when a senior employee takes a junior one under his or her wings to “show them the ropes” of the job or provide career advice. E-mentoring remote workers allow the organization to relay such factors as company culture and values as well as job know-how.
So what I did, was interview some remote workers, and I found out for myself the five essentials for e-mentoring remote workers to be effective:
- The remote worker must want to work remotely and be the type of person who can start themselves. Some people just love working from Home while others simply cannot stand to do so. The telecommuter must also be someone who follows boundaries and knows how to prioritize tasks. They must know how to use tools like their calendar and the Pomodoro Technique. When their spouse asks him/her to get kitty litter during work hours, they can tell them that they will do it after working hours in a way where they don’t have to call a divorce attorney later that day.
- Technology must be in good working order. Low speed, public internet connections that are available at coffee shops do not work. Too much time is spent getting the technology to work. High-speed, private internet connections with VPN should be used for optimum results. Ideally, the company can provide the remote workers with training in tools like Google or Zoom to facilitate their work.
- In the absence of face-to-face, use video conferencing. The visual connection between the mentor and the mentee helps in relationship building. The remote worker feels like he or she is indeed part of the group.
- An occasional on-site meeting does wonders for morale. Yes, I know this isn’t easy during COVID. Still, the team should be periodically brought on-site for team-building activities. Occasional on-site meetings also help deal with the isolation.
- Relationships were the key to promoting self-efficacy among remote workers. On-line team building, such as Zoom Parties or games to replace that collaboration time at the water cooler, help provide a virtual space for collaboration, much like the fuzzball table provided that space for brainstorming in the physical environment. The relationship factor is quite possibly the most important part of the e-mentoring remote workers equations.
Businesses could benefit by recognizing the competitive and cost advantages of maintaining a remote workforce. E-mentoring Remote Workers is a vital factor in the equation. Employees also benefit from decreased commute times and a better work-life balance. For telecommuting to work, there must be good communication. Candidates for telecommuting positions must be people who can manage distractions. Organizations should do what is possible to ensure that relationship building is occurring in a virtual workplace, including using technological tools such as video conferencing and periodic face-to-face meetings. With these tools in place, telecommuting can be advantageous to the employee, business, and society.
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- LEVINE, J. H. (2019). Understanding E-mentoring and self-efficacy with telecommuters. Retrieved from https://search-proquest-com.proxy- library.ashford.edu/docview /2236393376?accountid=32521
- SCHAWBEL, D. (2018, November). Survey: Remote workers are more disengaged and more likely to quit. Harvard Business Review Digital Articles, 1-4. [Retrieved from EBSCOhost]