Even before the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, an estimated 4.7 million employees were working from home across the U.S. It is reasonable to assume that number will rise as many companies that have adapted to remote work due to social distancing measures, will continue to allow employees to work remotely after the quarantine orders are lifted. That means employee support programs, like mentoring, will also need to be adapted to fit the new workplace reality.
Moreover, organizations have discovered that workplace mentoring programs have a number of benefits for both employers and participants. These include:
Companies may be concerned they will lose these benefits as more employees opt for remote work situations, but they don’t need to worry. There are enough tools and techniques to make remote mentoring programs a very viable option. Video conferencing, online collaboration tools and cloud computing have made working together from a distance easier. They can make remote mentorships work too.
Thanks to technology, which has seen significant advances over the past decades, adjusting to remote mentoring is less of a challenge than it would have been, say, 10 years ago.
There have been a variety of online video conferencing tools developed including GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts and Zoom. These types of software enable people to talk to each other either with an audio call or a video call. Video conferencing allows a mentor and mentee to be able to see each other, share screens and record calls for future use. The platforms have become essential for remote workforces.
Video calls are a great way for mentors and mentees to check in with each other regularly, which is a must to cultivate a successful mentorship. Participants should aim to connect at least once a week. This allows the mentee some one-on-one time with their mentor to ask questions and seek guidance. It also gives the mentor a chance to follow up and see what else their mentee may need.
In addition to video conference calls, there are several other tools available that can help you enhance your remote mentoring program. These include tech tools to stay in touch and collaborate at a distance and mentoring software to help you manage your program.
Communication tools - Enabling your mentors and mentees to stay in touch is key to helping them build a successful relationship. When you have remote employees involved in mentorships, video conferencing tools, messaging apps and good old fashioned phone calls are the best ways to help them connect.
Collaboration tools - Tracking goals and progress that the mentee makes towards achieving goals is another important part of successful mentorships. Collaboration tools like document sharing and project management platforms can be adapted for use by mentors and mentees. For example, Google Docs can be used by a mentee to create a list of goals they want to achieve under the guidance of their mentor. A link can be shared with their mentor who can offer advice in the form of comments to help the mentee develop a plan to accomplish their goals.
Mentoring software - Managing a workplace mentoring program can be a challenge, it can be particularly tricky when you have remote participants. Mentoring software can help your program manager keep track of matches, schedules and program analytics. Through software like Together, you can ensure that remote participants never feel excluded from your mentoring program. Moreover, you will be able to get regular reports to monitor the success of your workplace mentoring program.
If you are looking to add a remote mentoring component to your workplace mentorships, there are several things to keep in mind, including:
At the end of the day, whether you are in a traditional mentoring situation or a remote mentoring scenario, it is the relationship between the mentor and mentee that makes the difference.
By taking advantage of the tech tools available such as communication and collaboration tools, you can help your mentoring participants be successful in their relationships. In addition, mentoring software can make managing remote mentorships easier and less time-consuming.
While just over four million employees were reportedly working from home prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a good chance many employers and employees will continue with remote work after quarantine orders are lifted. For organizations that want to continue helping employees reach their full potential through workplace mentoring programs, developing ways to cultivate remote mentorships will be useful.
To find out how mentoring software can help you build a robust remote mentoring program for your organization, contact Together today.