Should You Let Your Interns Work from Home?
Are remote work possibilities off the table for your company’s interns?
A recent article on the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) blog titled Allowing Interns to Work from Home brought our attention to a discussion about, well, allowing interns to work from home.
In the NACE community discussion forums, there were a variety of opinions on the matter. Some community members think interns shouldn’t work from home at all while others think concessions should be made for interns to work from their campuses part of the time, and still others think organizations should allow their interns to enjoy the same flexible work arrangements enjoyed by all the full-time employees on their teams.
What do you think?
Obviously, your employer’s remote-work policies will drive much of your decision making—as will the nature of the roles for which you’re seeking interns—but you also need to consider two additional factors.
Providing a Meaningful Internship
First among those considerations should be what would help provide an enriching experience for your interns. After all, the number-one best practice for internship programs according to NACE’s own 15 Best Practices for Internship Programs is to provide interns with real work assignments. “Providing interns with real work is number one to ensuring your program’s success. Interns should be doing work related to their major, that is challenging, that is recognized by the organization as valuable, and that fills the entire work term,” NACE recommends.
Of course, if you’re giving “real work assignments” to interns, you’re going to expect them to perform professionally. Learning how to function in a real-world business environment is all part of the internship experience, and in many workplaces, that’s going to include the experience of working with team members who may not be in the office. If your workplace flexibility policies allow for remote work, perhaps well-structured remote-work situations should become a formal component of what your internship program has to offer.
Offering the Flexibility Candidates Seek
A second item to consider is what will make your internship opportunity appear most attractive to the best internship candidates. Employers who can offer workplace flexibility—yes, even to interns—have an advantage over those who don’t. If your workplace hasn’t already responded to millennials’ preference for remote work options, it may be time to do so for members of Generation Z since they grew up with the technologies that make remote work possible and are fluent in real-time and asynchronous communication. In fact, research finds the members of Generation Z consider flexible and remote work opportunities even more important than millennials.
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