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Could remote working harm young people’s careers?

3 November, 2021
Could remote working harm young people's careers? island illustration with different routes proven results one way career growth the other

It seems that remote working, or some form of hybrid working, is here to stay. But what effect will this have on our workplaces, our internal communications and people’s career prospects?

According to a recent survey for the BBC, the majority of people believe that most workers will never return to the office full-time. Some 79% of senior business leaders and 70% of the general public questioned said they think it’s unlikely that we will ever return to the way things were pre-pandemic. The majority of workers said that they would much prefer to work from home at least some, if not all, of the time. However, senior leaders are concerned about the effect this will have on creativity and collaboration within the business, as well as the mental health and future careers of new employees, particularly young workers.

Is remote working really the answer?

Although companies like BT are planning to let most of their office staff work remotely 1 or 2 days a week, notable global giants such as Apple and Goldman Sachs have rejected calls for continued flexibility. All agree that teamwork, creativity and collaboration are vital to every organisation. They don’t necessarily agree on the best way of achieving all three.

How could remote working affect career prospects?

In a recent interview, Chancellor Rishi Sunak warned that home working could seriously hurt the career expectations of young people. He said he doubted he would have done as well if he had started out working remotely. He is still in contact with the mentors he had when he first started work and they’ve been helpful to him throughout his career, even after they went their separate ways. “That’s why”, he says, “I think for young people in particular, being able to physically be in an office is valuable.”

Remote working vs physical workplace

Young people themselves are more keen to get back to a bricks and mortar workplace than their older counterparts. For them, it’s not just about mentoring. They see the office as a more professional environment but, more importantly, people have the chance to see you and get to know your strengths – rather than just your emails. You have far more opportunity to make a good impression than you do in weekly Teams meetings. We should also bear in mind that humans are a social species. We are not designed to function alone. The mental health of remote workers has suffered greatly throughout the pandemic, particularly young people who live alone. The lack of social interaction has really taken its toll. Another reason why the workplace is so important.

Water Cooler Moments

We have said this before, never underestimate the importance of those water cooler moments. It’s not just the organisation that benefits from the unintentional collaboration, the spark of a new idea or a creative new approach. Young workers in particular benefit by being seen, by their ideas being heard. Being in the workplace adds flesh to the bones and personality to the person. The more you are seen by those above you, the more likely they are to think of you when opportunities arise.

For someone with an established career, hybrid working may be the perfect scenario but for younger people starting out, they need the daily, face-to-face interaction of the office experience. They learn far more from their colleagues when they are in close contact. They get to see the big picture, picking up on the way things are done, how the organisation works, who can help with what. These are all soft skills that cannot be gained by remote working.

Communication, communication, communication

So, if yours is an organisation that has chosen the hybrid or remote working route post-pandemic, what can you do to ensure your younger workers aren’t missing out? The answer, as always, is communication. You need a robust internal comms strategy that keeps everyone in the loop and allows your younger workers to learn, to express themselves and to shine. Your internal communications should be geared towards those younger members of staff so that they feel included and part of the team. Many people who started work within the last 18 months have never even met their colleagues. Don’t simply copy everyone into every single email. Think of more creative strategies that target the right individuals in the right way. Make your comms something that people won’t want to miss.

Keeping remote workers in the loop

We have heard of many companies adopting Fri-yays! These don’t have to be Fridays (though they often are), simply a day when the whole organisation takes time out. Some have a monthly day off, a mental health day, or one day when the whole company goes offline so that nobody misses out on anything. Our favourites, however, are those companies who have a regular Fri-yay when everyone comes in to the office, not to work but to network, to chat, to socialise and to re-connect with their colleagues. Run properly, these days are a chance for younger workers to make an impression, show what they can contribute to the team and, of course, to see the bigger picture.

Big Picture Fri-yays

Here at The Big Picture People, we specialise in bespoke games designed to communicate your big picture and bring your teams together. Games are a fun way of breaking down barriers, getting people at all levels involved. They offer a challenge and an element of competition, exploring scenarios and possible consequences in a friendly, safe-to-fail environment. Using elements of gaming technology, games appeal to people throughout an organisation and young people in particular. Whether you are thinking of an inauguration programme, implementing change, communicating your culture and values, a bespoke Big Picture People game is an engaging, interactive way to involve everyone.

Call us for a FREE 30 minute consultation to find out more about our bespoke, interactive games, and find out how Big Picture Fri-yays could be an essential part of your post-pandemic, hybrid working communications strategy.

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