The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating the world for over a year now, and it has managed to permeate nearly all aspects of our lives. To handle the rising patient numbers, many countries found themselves forced to declare one or more periods of strict lockdown measures. Even before the officially mandated lockdowns, socially conscious organizations began preparing their workforce for moving to an entirely online work environment.
Indeed, one of the biggest changes in recent history on the global work routines has been the transition to home-working. For the vast majority of workers, this was a blessing in disguise. Cutting out the time wasted for the commute to the office, which could add up to multiple hours daily, makes room for more outside activities and better care of one’s mental health.
Not to mention the working parents who can now spend more time and pay attention to their kids and their needs. While most employees recognize the benefits of remote work and, in turn, are way more satisfied with their jobs than ever before, a group of workers may be suffering some unintended consequences. We are talking about junior employees and people just finishing their education who might be trying to write their first CV and get hired in a highly complex global situation.
Reduced Hiring Opportunities
In the wake of the pandemic, whole industry sectors found themselves forced to scale down operations and, as a result, either reduce their open positions significantly or even freeze the hiring of new employees altogether. This is especially impactful on junior members and graduates hoping to land a job but who now may find themselves debating whether to switch to an entirely different sector. It may be wise to dedicate some additional time and acquire the skills and expertise needed by sectors enjoying a serious boost, such as health, logistics, medicine, and especially the online retailers.
Losing on Mentorship
Without being constantly immersed in the work atmosphere of the office, junior employees miss out on passively acquiring knowledge and successful work patterns from observing their more experienced colleagues or mentors in a live environment. The organic exchange of advice is also missing when you communicate with your teammates only during Slack or Zoom calls.
In a remote environment, the young professionals see only the end result of the work of others without any natural insight into the process that made that outcome possible. To gain that knowledge, they would have to personally inquire their colleagues about the chosen methodology, which could potentially be seen as intrusive or simply too time-consuming to be explained over the net.
Difficulties Establishing Professional Connections
The importance of networking cannot be stressed enough. In the pre-pandemic times, you could easily participate in various on-site courses that allow you to physically meet and establish rapport with like-minded people working in the same field. Due to the ongoing COVID crisis, however, this has become exponentially harder.
In many places strict requirements for these types of events have been put in place. Seminars, courses, or just plain old gatherings now have to set a limit on their participants based on the area of the venue, have constant air ventilation during the event, and more.
The drastically reduced chances to meet up with your professional peers could not seem such a big deal at the moment, with all the other far more pressing concerns we are facing, but having a sufficient network of work relations could prove to be invaluable later in your career.
Managers Must Adjust
Recognizing the deficiencies of remote work when it comes to the junior members of their staff is vital. Managers should think about initiatives that could address these issues to some degree, as eliminating them outright may be impossible under the current conditions.
Various approaches could be considered. For example, try setting up more opportunities that facilitate informal feedback between the members of each team as well as company-wide.
You can also ask the more successful or experienced team members if they are willing and have the time to participate in teaching segments where they can take questions or demonstrate how to tackle a certain problem to their younger colleagues.
White office work has a lot of undeniable drawbacks, it cannot be dismissed entirely. Especially when it comes to junior staff members who wish to learn the ropes, acquire the right vocabulary, or simply observe how an experienced colleague handles a difficult client. It is up to the managers to understand the particular needs of this segment of the employees and then create a suitable environment for them.