Recently I sat in a client meeting with a significant number of employees who had absolutely no clue about how to conduct themselves in a meeting. They were distracted, most were on their phone, others checking email or talking to their neighbor during the presentation.
The were incredibly rude, and I was baffled until I realized that they were all younger employees who had started their careers during the pandemic working from home. As a result, they had little to no experience on how to conduct themselves in a meeting, how to respect other employees, how to focus on a presenter, or how to even sit quietly.
While remote work brought many advantages, such as flexibility and the ability to work from anywhere, it also had its drawbacks. One of the most significant challenges for younger workers is the lack of experience working with others in an office environment. As a result, many are struggling to navigate the social dynamics of the workplace.
They’ve never experienced the day-to-day social interactions that are typical in a workplace, such as water-cooler conversations, team meetings, or even casual chitchat. As a result, many of them may find it difficult to build relationships with co-workers, understand office politics, or navigate company culture.
So how can we fix this? Here are some steps that organizations can take to help young employees who started their career working from home during the pandemic.
1) Provide mentorship and coaching to help young employees learn how to work with others in the office. Mentors can help employees navigate the social dynamics of the workplace and offer advice on building relationships with colleagues.
2) Encourage in-person collaboration as much as possible. For instance, I’m not a fan of team-building activities, but getting them to work together is the key. Perhaps more face-to-face meetings, or opportunities for employees to work together in a shared workspace.
3) Offer training on workplace etiquette. Many young employees may not be familiar with the unspoken rules of office etiquette, such as how to behave in meetings, how to communicate with colleagues, how to dress appropriately, or how to understand what is expected of them.
While remote work has many benefits, it also has its challenges, particularly for young employees who have only worked from home. Take a look at those younger employees and interns at your next meeting, and if there’s a problem, you have some work to do getting them up to speed.