Remote internships are greatly advantageous if structured correctly. It’s perfect for smaller workplaces, more cost efficient and highly enriching for both employees and employers. As employers, your remote interns will be trained into highly regarded job candidates with familiarity towards the company and it’s staff, so there is little to lose by creating a program to accommodate them. In the wake of COVID-19, many businesses are restructuring to manage impactful work and training for students in need of experience- so keep with the times and recruit a virtual team. With enough care and consideration, onboarding remote interns can be seamless!
Employers should expect a great extent of handholding to enrich their interns because remote learning is especially hard without synchronous workflows that is usually achieved by in-person office environments. A mentorship program should be developed to emphasise the importance of clear communication channels.
Managers can be trained to mentor a virtual team by being alert and punctual in answering their questions and rectifying their concerns about work assignments. These mentors will learn to be more empathetic when struggling remote interns are unable to articulate their obstacles through online communication channels, as opposed to showing their computational problems in-person. It is hard to manage nervous and inexperienced students who are new to professional environments so offering well-equipped remote mentors will invigorate their internship and allow them to thrive accordingly.
Without a personal mentor sitting beside them to guide the way, remote interns will have an ongoing stream of questions throughout their program. The physicality that is deprived from an intern may evoke psychological issues due to a fear of appearing as a ‘hassle’ or ‘bother’, creating a barrier preventing them to ask questions and get their work completed efficiently. Eventually, interns will reach out less and the friction between mentor and mentee may grow- self searching and self learning can only take them so far and is very time consuming. Creating a psychological safety net for these struggling interns will boost overall business productivity. To proactively address this virtual barrier, employers can ask mentors to regularly call interns to identify any concerns, remind interns daily they can ask questions as often as they’d like, or host a 24/7 conference room online specifically made as a checkpoint to see how interns are handling their work.
Managing your expectations as the employer will take lots of pressure off interns who are simultaneously learning to handle the job as well as cope with the virtual workspace. How employers measure what, how and when the work is assigned should be calibrated to the unique characteristics of remote internships. With asynchronous work, there is higher inclination to demand expediency. But due to the increased need by interns to assimilate into an unfamiliar work structure, this expectation should be minimised.
With junior staff and asynchronous work schedules at hand, employers can mould job tasks to be accomplished more effectively. Interns should be able to complete tasks without too much difficulty if their tasks are designed according to their level of training or knowledge.
In this instance, it is unhelpful to allow existing employees to offload their personal tasks on remote interns who are not properly trained with the right tools or qualification. It should also be noted that interns are still an essential part of the team and that their contributions are valued. Make their projects notable to large groups to encourage the company to be invested in their success, whilst involving interns in communications among staff regularly so they feel useful.
Remote work has recently been considered the ‘future of work’- a candidate’s capability to complete set tasks and assignments sufficiently is held to high regard, and is believed to become a norm soon. Companies have already mass restructured their work spaces and adapted to the influx of digital software to engage staff, which are built to support remote learning and management due to its flexibility, cost efficiency and convenience. Talented interns who are job-ready with the appropriate skills are overqualified with digital talents and technical skills. Employers who are strategic will know to seek these top talents and mould them into perfect job candidates at the end of their internship. These interns are assets to a business and offer a competitive edge once they are fully equipped with knowledge of workflows and business operations.
Remote internships have the added advantage of allowing business to broaden their candidate pool, as outsourcing becomes a primary opportunity. With a more diverse scope of talent, the cultural and geographical differences between employer and intern can enrich the company by introducing unique ideas and skills. Diversity is simply an excellent way for the company to be better connected with a global market as well as invigorate the vibrancy of their business by exploring fresh perspectives, new tools and methodology.
The biggest factor to perfect before onboarding remote interns is to seek the best media through which communications are exchanged. As aforementioned, clear communication and transparent feedback plays a crucial role in keeping interns updated on the company’s goals, their work requirements and check up on their development during a rapidly changing work environment.
With much room for miscommunication errors, creating a constant feedback loop between employer and remote intern will reduce work-related stress while maximising the productivity metric.
Clear, direct communication with students will ultimately strengthen the work relationships within a company, boosting morale and establishing confidence. In the digital era, many applications and softwares are available to businesses to explore easy to navigate chat rooms, collaborative documents and calendars, and live conferencing technology. So communicate, and communicate even more!
Before hiring talent and situating them within an unfamiliar workplace, employers should evaluate the above steps to onboarding remote interns. Taking great consideration of how the management system is structured, how communications channels are established and remote jobs are designed will ultimately enable companies to enjoy the benefits of diversity and competitive advantage.