Springboards Blog

The Challenge of Remote Work

Aug 27, 2020 5:40:57 PM / by Nadia Nassif

By now, you’ve probably identified at least one employee who is struggling with the all-remote transition, even if they were once fully engaged with their work and colleagues. Indeed, remote work is hard, especially when it’s unexpectedly sprung on a corporate culture; working relationships are simply different when work happens remotely. Sudden workplace changes of this sort can cause employee engagement to drop.

How Can You Keep Engagement at a High Level?

While the physical context of your workplace may be radically different, there is good news: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to support your employees. Here are three specific interventions you can implement to help multicultural employees succeed as they continue adjusting to an all-remote culture:

  1. Create internal mentorship programs, and encourage multicultural employees to take part.

Although mentorship effectively and consistently improves career satisfaction among multicultural employees, these employees are 39% less likely to have a sponsor or mentor in the workplace than Caucasian employees. When sponsorship does occur, satisfaction rates regarding career advancement rise substantially:

  • 53% of African-American employees with a sponsor are satisfied with their rate of advancement, compared with 35% of those without a sponsor.
  • 55% of Asian employees with a sponsor are content with their rate of advancement, compared with just 30% of Asian employees without a sponsor.

Providing opportunities for mentorship will increase employee engagement and improve retention levels.

  2. Promote self-advocacy and feedback among multicultural employees.

Under-represented employees often find it more challenging to advocate on their own behalf than do employees in the predominant culture. As you create new processes and norms to accommodate remote work, take this time to build formal channels for both identified and anonymous feedback. Encouraging under-represented employees to self-advocate will help them feel seen and appreciated, especially when it is all too easy to feel invisible and alone while working from home.

  3. Provide leadership coaching, not just business ESL training, for non-native English speakers.

An all-remote working environment places an additional premium on high-quality written work and calls for greater dexterity in team and client-facing verbal communications. Both can present additional challenges for the multicultural employee. While business English training programs can help to create a shared “same-language” framework to assist collaboration between native and non-native English speakers, challenges related to attrition and lack of career advancement are often caused by differences in communication norms between cultures—not by poor English skills. Individual coaching can help talented multicultural employees overcome culture gaps, and learn to excel as leaders in all-English-speaking environments on a par with native English speakers.

Nadia Nassif

Written by Nadia Nassif

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