Image of a lady taking part in an online mentoring session

Mentoring in a hybrid world – ideas to amplify your programme.

 

Workers were asked about their future plans in February 2022, after government guidance to work from home when possible was lifted in England and Scotland. More than 8 in 10 workers who had to work from home during the coronavirus pandemic said they planned to hybrid work.

With a vast number of workplaces now offering hybrid working post-COVID, how could this affect mentoring programmes, in areas such as engagement and monitoring?

 

What do we mean by hybrid working?

Hybrid working refers to a workplace in which an employee splits their working days/hours between the office environment and working from home, or elsewhere out with the office – think local coffee shops, or hot desking.

Before the COVID pandemic, this type of working style may have been considered in certain industries – but since being expected to quickly pack up and work from home during lockdown, things have quickly progressed, and this model looks likely to be the future of work for many.

 

How does hybrid working affect employees?

Where many employees will now enjoy a more balanced work-life scenario and relish in the comfort of homeworking and the flexibility that comes with it – for others, such as young people entering the workforce for the first time, they may miss out on the usual interactions such as bonding with their colleagues and the learning that comes from just being in ear-shot of office discussions. With this, workers may risk missing out on career development opportunities.

Mentoring programmes can be one way of ensuring that your employees are onboarded successfully and shown extra care and encouragement during what could be a challenging time.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the areas you can focus on, when working with a hybrid mentoring programme delivery –

Be Available

Out of sight, out of mind? That doesn’t need to be the case when it comes to mentoring. Mentees may feel less confident in reaching out and asking for help, due to remote environments. It’s easier for an individual to perhaps fall under the radar. It can be helpful to make clear during onboarding of a mentoring programme, the times in which you are available to mentees. Let them know that you are there to assist them, and the methods they can use to contact you for help.

By setting out a structure for the programme and consistency – this can lead to more relevant and specific discussion in future.

Create clear lines of communication

Working in an office or attending an educational setting face to face allows for many social interactions – from formal discussions to the small moments of interaction such as lunch breaks.  During COVID, many found themselves feeling isolated or lonely while working at home, and this may be the case for those who are taking part in hybrid or from home mentoring programmes.

To try to combat the feeling of isolation, we recommend regular check ins with your mentees, perhaps 2 or 3 times a week – this can be through a variety of methods such as video call, messages, or emails.

Focus on team building

Mentoring programs are often a one-to-one relationship session with another person. However, in a busy hybrid environment – you may consider switching this up and creating smaller teams within the workplace or education setting – the use of forums can allow open dialogue between mentees and mentors to discuss work struggles.

Monitor Engagement

As with any mentoring programme, it’s important to monitor programme engagement so that you can catch any mentees who may be finding themselves falling behind in their goals or aspirations. By monitoring engagement, you can pick up on these occasions quickly – and look at ways in which you can change things up in terms of communication or working with this individual. As with many things in life, what works for one mentee may not work for another – so flexibility is key.

Mentors can easily monitor engagement by using a platform such as sfG MentorNet, by using activity logs.

Review and Revise

This goes for any mentoring programme, really – regardless of mode of delivery. During the programme, we strongly encourage you to have set times when evaluations are sent out – these could be created and managed by programme administrators and sent out to both mentees and mentors, or just to the mentees.

Include language and questions that focus on encouraging feedback from participants which will allow you to shape and mould your approaches and programme.

 

In summary

Letting your team know their mentor is in reach, despite the reality of remote or hybrid conditions can mean a lot. Encouraging open discussion with other mentees, and regular scheduled check-ins can help to ease feelings of isolation and help to keep levels of motivation and programme engagement.

Taking time to set out clear purpose and celebrating wins along the way – will help to maintain structure and motivation.

Of course, mentoring remotely or through a hybrid model can be a completely different experience to someone who is taking part in a face-to-face programme, but each method of delivery will have its own challenges and positives. With more and more mentoring programmes moving to hybrid or completely remote – this really opens up the door to applicants who perhaps couldn’t have possibly travelled daily or frequently to take part.

Are you delivering a remote or hybrid model? We would love to hear your thoughts on the challenges or the benefits of this.

 

If you are looking for an online mentoring platform to help deliver your mentoring programme, sfG MentorNet team would be delighted to provide you a free demonstration to show you the features including forums, messaging, resource library and more.