Devan Moonsamy 

Despite the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, working from home or hybrid working is still the way being followed by most businesses. Remote and Hybrid working is the model that has been adapted globally since the pandemic is in its 3rd year. 

Meetings virtually which were previously unheard off are now becoming a normal that most companies have not even advocated for a new lease on the back to office strategy. Infact even if staff are back at the office, they are still requesting to work from amid the fuel price hikes. 

This has led to working from home becoming a much sort after model that will shape the working word for the generations ahead. It seems as if it is the wat forward to improve employee mental health and well-being. 

This new work world order also requires a shift in mindset and operational procedures for managers and leaders. This means that managers and leaders must embrace these working methods and allow for creative ways to incorporate work place necessities with work from home. There is room for managers and leaders to mentor even virtually. 

Mentorship in the workplace is a requirement to enhance and empower employees in the office. The fact is that most people still believe that there needs to be physical proximity in order for developmental work relationships to occur. This is not the case. Mentoring is not necessarily dependant on a specific medium but rather on the outcome that the mentoring aims at deriving. 

Virtual mentoring is on the rise as more and more people embrace work from home. Virtual mentoring is flying high with many advantages to the new work environment. As much as virtual mentoring has its advantages there are also a few disadvantages that must be noted. A disadvantage might be that virtual mentoring would require much more trust and support than a face-to-face situation. The disadvantage can also be that one might feel virtually fatigued. 

Mentoring would also require one to observe body language and to mimic behaviour of mentors and sometimes the online platform might allow for this. It can also offer very little access to formal training and skills knowledge advancement as the assessment is very much based on interaction verbally only and not by observing someone’s work style. 

Here are a few ways on how to enhance the mentoring virtually

  • Start by clarifying the intention of forming this mentoring relationship. It could be that you are in senior management and that you will be going on maternity leave or taking a time off to focus on other aspects. It is important to note to the person being mentored what the reason is for this mentorship. If it is simply to just mould a second in charge then elaborate on that. Mentoring can also be implemented as a means to have someone else aware of system procedures to lighten the workload. Whatever the case for the mentoring, the intention must be clarified at the start of the mentorship. 
  • Work on building trust in this mentoring relationship. It is important to form trust as a foundation as this will allow you to demonstrate your commitment to the relationship with this person. It can be hard to ease into a mentorship for someone doing the mentoring. It can create misunderstandings if you don’t trust that the person you are mentoring is capable of doing the tasks under your belt. Talk about making the virtual space a safe place for you to maintain this relationship. This way both parties feel that they are able to make this relationship of mentoring work despite the lack of face to face. 
  • Set boundaries and clarify the rules of how this engagement will take place. Will it be with video or just audio call? Will you be hosting meetings daily, weekly etc? What are timeframes or turnaround times for engagement? It is important to identify what the goal is of this interaction and to set timeframes so that both parties are able to meet the necessary requirements that is needed to have this relationship flourish. 
  • When possible, merge forces to produce the dream team. Be open to new and innovative ideas from the person you are mentoring. Try to use the space you have to learn from them as well. Chances are they have great and innovative ideas. It can also be a good time to try and get the mentor to take the lead once in a while (this should be after you are confident, they can handle it). This will display your trust in them and give them a chance to exceed your expectations.

Devan Moonsamy is the CEO of ICHAF Training Institute, a South African TVET College. He is the author of Racism, Classism, Sexism, And The Other ISMs That Divide Us, AND My Leadership Legacy Journal available from the ICHAF Training Institute. 

The ICHAF Training Institute offers SETA-approved training in business skills, computer use, and soft skills. Devan specialises in conflict and diversity management, and regularly conducts seminars on these issues for corporates. To book a seminar with Devan or for other training courses, please use the contact details below.

Tel: 011 262 2461 | 083 303 9159 |

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