How to Ensure Entry-Level Employees Are Not Disadvantaged by Remote Work
There's no doubt that remote work has become the new normal for many businesses and employees alike. But what does this mean for young workers taking on entry-level remote jobs?
Concerns have been raised about people starting their careers remotely and the effect that this could have on their development, experience, and learning. In fact, 7 in 10 senior business executives believe young people who do not go to the office will struggle with career progression.
Fully remote employees taking on entry-level positions have a lot to worry about as they start their careers. They may be anxious about not knowing what to do and not having anyone to ask for help. They may also feel disadvantaged compared to more experienced remote workers who have gained office experience previously. But there are ways to ensure entry-level team members are not at a disadvantage when it comes to remote working.
Remote-first companies must give this some consideration. As working remotely becomes more mainstream and replaces offices altogether, companies will need to ensure they are providing entry-level professionals with the same opportunities to learn and grow that their more senior counterparts had.
So what can companies do to ensure that entry-level colleagues are not disadvantaged by remote work?
Make sure the onboarding experience is structured
A structured onboarding process is critical to the success of any new hire, especially a candidate taking on an entry-level remote job who may be entering the world of work for the first time. The opportunity to work remotely comes with an onboarding challenge that must be tackled.
A great employee onboarding experience can improve employee retention by 82% and productivity by 70%. But a Gallup poll found that only 1 in 10 employees thought their onboarding experience was great. This creates an opportunity for companies to stand out in the crowded talent market.
During the first few weeks, a new team member is trying to acclimate to their new surroundings and learn about the company culture. If the onboarding experience is disorganized, it can be overwhelming for the new hire. They may feel like they are being thrown into the deep end and left to sink or swim.
That's why it's important to have frequent one-on-one meetings with the new hire's manager at least initially. These meetings should be concise and focused on helping the new hire understand their role within the company, as well as ensuring the new employee feels supported.
Further, by breaking down the onboarding process into manageable steps, you can help ensure that your new hires hit the ground running and become productive team members. An entry-level employee, in particular, may need additional structure.
This could be created in the form of guides linking to important company documents, as well as onboarding agendas with clear instructions telling the new team member what to complete next. A mix of training videos, interactive quizzes, and essential admin work that needs to be filled out could make for a great onboarding experience.
While the new team member will want to meet their colleagues remotely, it is important not to give them meeting overload. Schedule one or two brief one-on-ones with key team members each day, making sure the new colleague has breathing space in between meetings.
The key to a great onboarding experience is ensuring the new employee feels supported to do their work and learn about the company and product at a reasonable pace.
Introduce a flat structure to promote accountability
One of the great advantages of taking on an entry-level remote job is working for a forward-thinking business. This means organizations should consider flattening their hierarchies and promoting an open culture. In a traditional office setting, it can be easy for ideas to get stuck in the chain of command, stifling creativity and innovation.
But when everyone from the intern to the CEO is encouraged to share their ideas openly, creativity flourishes. This can be achieved by shouting out people who propose new ways of doing things, showing vocal appreciation for people who go above and beyond with their ideas, and encouraging people to challenge ideas at every stage.
This flat structure not only promotes creativity and innovation but also empowers entry-level employees to take ownership of projects and make a real impact on the organization. It is imperative for the development of entry-level staff members that they feel safe voicing ideas in a remote setting. If they're on the wrong track, they can be steered in the right direction.
It also encourages the entry-level team members to get creative, think outside the box, and work on their own projects rather than just helping more senior colleagues.
But flat structures come with several other benefits too, including less micromanagement, better communication, and higher levels of employee motivation and satisfaction.
E-mentoring programs for professional development
One worry that young people have about working from home is that they won't be able to form relationships or learn from more experienced colleagues. An e-mentoring program, where senior members of the staff take young people under their wing, could be one solution to this problem.
One-on-one meetings with senior staff members, in which career goals and accomplishments are shared, could be a great way for young employees to get some advice. Equally, these meetings are an opportunity for young people to form friendships with senior staff members.
There are several benefits of an e-mentoring program. Young people can learn best practices in their chosen field, while also building professional relationships while working from home. On the other hand, companies can benefit too, by building a strong work culture that promotes diversity and inclusion.
Remote-first companies could also offer more generous professional development packages that include guidance on how to progress in one's career. By taking such measures, remote-first companies would help to ensure that their young team members have access to the same opportunities as their colleagues in traditional office settings.
In-person retreats & co-working memberships to encourage collaboration
In-person retreats and co-working memberships can help to encourage collaboration and build relationships within a company. Gen Z is the newest generation to join the workforce and they are craving some in-person contact. In fact, 90% want access to an in-person office where they get to interact with their colleagues.
If the company doesn't have offices at all, it could provide co-working space memberships for employees, especially where there is a concentration of team members in a certain location. This would give colleagues the opportunity to work together in person on occasion. Co-working spaces could be used to collaborate on projects, have occasional team meetings, or build relationships.
And, as Gen Z are keen on a work-life balance that allows them to work from home and from the office as and when they choose, a coworking membership could provide exactly what they need.
Additionally, and especially if this is not possible due to the team being distributed, in-person retreats for the whole team could help form valuable relationships and pass on knowledge too. Salesforce made headlines when they purchased a state-of-the-art wellness retreat for workers.
The 75-acre nature retreat is set among the gorgeous woods of Scotts Valley, California, and is designed for new staff to get an introduction to the company. But, it can also be used for leadership training opportunities as well as social bonding.
But in-person retreats don't necessarily have to be expensive – they could simply be a weekend away in a less expensive location, where colleagues can partake in team-building activities and build relationships in the process.
Workers could also be encouraged to attend industry events and networking meetings. This would help young people to get to know their colleagues better and learn from their experiences.
Giving entry-level employees the best opportunity to develop in remote-first companies
Young people are an important asset to any company, and it is essential that they feel comfortable and supported in their positions. They can be disadvantaged if they're not given the opportunity to learn and grow in their roles. This is a pitfall that can happen in an in-office environment, but remote workspaces are especially susceptible.
To ensure remote entry-level employees have the same opportunities as some of their in-office counterparts, companies should design robust onboarding processes designed to provide job training and an introduction to the company.
This is key to successfully hiring any remote worker, but young people, who may be entering the world of work for the first time, will benefit from this type of structure in particular.
Other measures remote-first companies can adopt include implementing a flat structure to encourage the sharing of ideas and accountability, offering e-mentorship programs, and providing in-person retreats and co-working memberships to encourage face-to-face communication on occasion.
Young people will then be able to develop their skills and progress in their careers just like their colleagues in traditional office settings.
And, as remote work is becoming the new normal, it is more important than ever to ensure companies are taking the right steps to look after their least experienced team members. This is the only way businesses can become future-proof.
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