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Although there are many benefits to remote working arrangements, such as a reduced commute and improved work-life balance, younger employees who work remotely aren’t practising their soft skills and a lack of social interaction may negatively impact their professional lives in the long run, says Janet Candido, founder and principal of human resources consultancy Candido Consulting Group.

Many young employees haven’t experienced a real office environment, where spontaneous discussions often come up without scheduled virtual meetings, she says, adding if these workers don’t have the ability to cultivate their soft skills, they won’t be as effective in their roles or move forward in their careers. She cautions that this disconnection from work or lack of a pathway to leadership roles could lead to ‘quiet quitting.’

Read: ‘Quiet quitting’ a rallying cry for more focus on work-life balance, employee engagement

“To advance within a company, employees need face time with the people who make those decisions. If [they] can’t get that face time, it can trigger some people to just leave their companies.”

Some employers are solving this issue by moving to a hybrid working arrangement, providing employees with opportunities to learn and practice their social skills in the workplace, says Candido. However, because white-collar employees have been so isolated as a result of the coronavirus pandemic’s shift to remote working, social interactions may not happen organically in the workplace, so employers may have to be intentional about bringing people together, informally and formally through coaching.

This training can be hosted virtually as well, she says, noting as long as employees are tasked with team-building exercises and receive coaching on using their soft skills, they’ll gradually start to demonstrate those skills when they’re in group settings.

Candido believes employers are doing themselves a disservice when discussions about the return to the workplace are centred around concerns that employees aren’t as productive working from home. “They’re better off talking about the culture and career growth [opportunities] employees have when they’re part of a [team environment] and how it prepares them for the rest of their career.”

Read: Majority of employers say hybrid work is challenging confidence in employee productivity: survey