For many younger employees who have entered the job market in the last decade, working remotely is simply a way of life. The technology is there to make it happen relatively seamlessly. The flexibility of working remotely is great, and it removes some of the common geographical barriers from finding the right job. But it’s not perfect.
As many employees in their 20s and early 30s have learned, working remotely can limit the opportunities for collaboration and mentorship that come more naturally when you’re working in an office surrounded by more experienced employees. It’s a serious challenge for companies with a large remote workforce, and we need to be looking hard at ways to deliver those crucial experiences to remote employees.
Bring Them Back into the Fold?
Some very well-known brands – including IBM, a very early adopter of telecommuting – are bringing some of their remote workforce back to the office, according to NPR. Because employees are looking for more opportunities for collaboration and mentorship, calling employees back to the office may seem like a natural fit. However, while the shift may be an appealing solution for some employees, it’s not going to be a good fit for everyone. Mix in the fact that telecommuting is definitely not going anywhere as a concept, and it’s easy to see why we need to find different ways for remote employees to collaborate with their colleagues.
Find New Ways to Communicate
The mentorship and collaboration problem for remote employees ultimately comes down to communication. When you’re in an office or store working with a team of experienced people, asking a more experienced person for advice is often as simple as taking a walk around the corner. People are with you all the time. You can reach to who you want, when you want, without putting in too much thought into the logistics. It’s much easier to ask for help or work together on a project when you don’t have to jump through hoops just to make contact.
In theory, communicating with colleagues remotely shouldn’t be that hard. We have social media, instant messaging, and countless apps to make that happen. But that’s also part of the challenge. With so many ways to communicate, finding the right person on the right channel at the right time is often much easier said than done.
Effective, one-stop communications platforms are one appealing solution to this challenge, because they make it so much easier for remote employees to facilitate conversation and collaboration. If you have an important question for a trusted mentor, it’s much easier to find your answer with a consistent, reliable communications platform. If you’re trying to collaborate on a project, then the last thing you need is to be struggling to make contact with your team.
Dynamic Signal is one communications brand doing great work with a robust platform, and there are others like it. The idea is to facilitate communication between remote employees in a way that allows them to interact naturally, with very strong support for mobile devices. It may not be the same as strolling over to the next office, but being able to pull out your phone and engage immediately makes it much easier for today’s employees to work together.
The good news is that your remote employees really want to learn and engage, as long as they have the tools to do so. If you provide the means, employees will seek out opportunities to learn and grow with their peers. #NoLetUp!