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4 Key Takeaways from Breaking Barriers with Remote Work

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Last week, Symba and our partners at Riipen brought together global talent leaders for a LinkedIn Live discussion on how remote work has changed over time and what businesses can expect in the future. 

The event was co-moderated by Ahva Sadeghi, CEO of Symba, and Dana Stephenson, CEO of Riipen, and featured Brien Convery from Royal Bank of Canada, Stacy Milner from HBCU in LA, Kenida Lewis from MGM Resorts, and Maria Paula Rivarola from Laboratoria. Our panelists gave insights on a range of topics from remote working in the pandemic to improving equity in the workforce. 

Here are four key takeaways from the panel discussion on how remote work can break barriers.

Remote Work Has Nearly Limitless Potential

When most companies pivoted to remote work in early 2020, there were concerns over productivity loss. As Brien detailed, “we were building an airplane as we flew it.” This sentiment was shared by a number of the panelists, but they also shared remote work’s endless possibilities. Kenida stated, “It is possible to accomplish so much in the virtual and remote world.” Remote work has a unique set of advantages for both employers and employees, including interns and other experiential learners. HBCU in LA was able to scale their program to 150 students because the program had to go remote, and because of the success from this past summer, they’re going to spin it into a year-round hybrid opportunity. Stacy concludes, “If a student shows up in a space, is supported by a program like ours and has the backing of the industry, they will succeed.” And remote work has the potential to allow more students to show up and be supported.

Remote and Hybrid Work are Here to Stay

As offices start opening back up, remote work will not simply go away. The larger talent pool, lower costs, and greater flexibility helps ensure that remote work can be a company’s competitive advantage. As Stacy explains, “because of the successful remote engagement they had, our partners found that they wanted to do [remote internships] year-round.” The remote working skills that interns learn can be applied to both in-person and hybrid work settings. For example, remote work can help develop better time management skills, which is key no matter where and how you work. 

Remote Work Can Help Build a More Equitable Workforce

One of the consistent themes echoed by the panelists was remote work’s ability to create a more equitable workforce for tomorrow. As Brien explains, “It [remote work] democratized opportunities to students across Canada, we could reach more students and offer them new opportunities.” For Laboratoria, which aims to close the gender gap in tech in Latin America, going remote allowed them to expand their programs. Women who have gone through the program have typically increased their incomes by three times, helping them move forward on the path to financial freedom. Remote work helps break down geographic barriers that exist with traditional in-person jobs and can improve opportunities for people of color, women, and members of the LGBTQ community. For women who have had to drop out of the workforce, remote work provides an excellent chance to re-engage with their careers and be empowered to lead the companies of tomorrow. 

There is Still Room for Improvement

Remote work has an incredible ability to promote an opportunity, as Kenida purports; “It [remote work] allows an amazing opportunity for work life balance.” However, despite the great improvements that remote work has made to the workforce, some areas need change. One area that HR managers must be cognizant of is the potential for employees to be overworked. Remote work can oftentimes encourage an always-on mentality as the delineation between home and work is blurred. As Maria proposed, “We need to take care of burnout as leaders in the industry.” Employee and intern burnout can lead to productivity loss and low morale. Guarding against burnout means that while your company offers better allowances for work life balance, there is also communication about when employees should take time for themselves. Encourage employees to take mental health days and vacation time off to recharge.

To view the entire panel discussion video, head over to our LinkedIn Live event page here. 

For more information on best practices for remote internships and Symba’s remote internship management software, sign up for a demo

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