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The Evolution of Mentoring in Post-Pandemic Working Conditions

While the ever-changing work dynamics that could affect mentoring are nearly endless, several seem to have a most profound impact. These are the growing fissured workplace, the changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, and the dramatic increase in work-from-home employees.

Employment is no longer the clear relationship between a well-defined employer and a worker. The basic terms of employment – hiring, evaluation, pay, supervision, training, coordination—are now the result of multiple organizations (Weil, 2014). Now, a larger and larger portion of the workforce work for themselves, or under a contractor status providing services to large corporations and businesses. Business cycles and hiring policies are affected by the spread of fissuring (Weil, 2014).

What does fissuring and the gig economy mean for mentoring? Access to mentors seems to be an evident challenge. Instead of working for a company as a salaried employee, where the company is investing in the employee, the worker is seen as a provider of services, on their own. The result of this is that lead companies would most likely exclude contractors from participation in any structured mentoring program. This leaves the contractor on their own to find and cultivate their own mentoring relationships. It seems evident that this would slow mentoring’s impact and prevalence.

Since the pandemic hit in March of 2020, people have been together less. This applies to work situations as well as other social relationships. The cause and effect is a reduced opportunity to meet potential mentors and to establish mentoring relationships. That said, that shouldn’t be a deal killer for mentorship. In an NPR article written by Anjuli Sastry, she writes that “Before COVID-19, asking for mentorship was best in-person. Video is just fine now. When you feel someone is the right fit, do your best to make the ask with more than just a phone call or email. It shows that you will be open to feedback in the long term” (Sastry, 2020).

This dynamic is closely associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, but it should be noted that work-from-home employment has been a growing trend for a number of years. To illustrate the point, in the U.S. there were 2.8 million more people working from home in the pre-pandemic year of 2017 than there were in the year 2000 (Archer, 2021).

Given the fact that fewer people work in the office after the introduction of COVID-19, e‐mentoring is increasingly seen as an effective method for the development of employees in virtual teams where time and geographical limitations may prevent face‐to‐face meetings. Feedback in one study revealed that geographical location did not harm the quality of the e‐mentoring relationship, and that successful relationships could be built from contact that was not face‐to‐face (Starwood, 2010). That said, it is pointed out that some people involved in mentoring relationships feel that it is harder to develop trust, and a strong relationship, when virtual means of communications are used (Evans, 2018).

Without the interactions of in-office work, it is conceivable that there will be an increased need for mentoring, but a greater challenge in being able to establish those mentoring relationships.

Post-pandemic Mentoring: About
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