Learning & Development

Pros and Cons of Virtual Mentorship

More organizations are beginning to offer remote and flexible work options as employees demand more mentorship opportunities. So, virtual mentorship is becoming a viable option. Or, is it? Keep reading to learn more.


Jovanmandic / iStock / Getty Images Plus

What Is Virtual Mentorship?

Virtual mentoring entails mentors and mentees touching base via digital methods (i.e., phone, e-mail, messaging platforms, video calls, etc.). Although how participants connect in a virtual mentorship might be different, the basic goals of mentoring are still the same—mentors offer advice and guidance to mentees in a variety of capacities while acting as interested stakeholders in their mentees’ professional success.
However, there are some unique pros and cons to consider with virtual mentorship relationships that might not always be present in traditional mentor/mentee relationships.

Pros of Virtual Mentorship

Flexibility. Connecting via phone or via e-mail allows participants to touch base with their mentor or mentee at any time from any place. They aren’t confined to specific meeting locations or days of the week, as they can initiate communication at any time they wish from a location that works best for them.
Convenience. Touching base with someone virtually is more convenient, especially for mentors who tend to be very busy. It’s more convenient because you don’t have to go to a particular location at a particular time ever. Instead, you can initiate communications when it makes the most sense for your schedule.
Provides a larger pool of candidates and participants. Because virtual mentorship is more flexible and convenient, more mentors and mentees will want to participate. They’ll know that it will be easier to commit to a virtual relationship.
Inspires more authentic relationships. When mentors and mentees aren’t required to meet in corporate meeting rooms and in between other meetings at work all the time, they’ll discover more authentic and relaxed ways to connect with their mentors or mentees. They’ll be more open to off-the-cuff and spontaneous interactions and will be able to build relationships that don’t require set meeting times or rooms.

Cons of Virtual Mentorship

Serious challenges with communication and relationship building. If mentees and mentors aren’t paired well or don’t truly commit to the mentorship relationship, they could run into issues where one person is sending e-mails while the other person is trying to call, yet they always miss each other.
Or, if times to talk or touch base aren’t established between the two, the pair may never connect or only connect so rarely that a mutually beneficial and meaningful relationship never fully forms.
Technology issues. When calls are dropped, or platforms aren’t up to date and don’t work well, mentors and mentees might find it difficult to connect often. And if one person of the pair doesn’t know how to use certain technology, or doesn’t feel fully comfortable using it, this could also impede well-rounded relationships and communications from forming.
Ultimately, virtual mentorship does offer a lot of benefits. It’s just important to determine whether it will be beneficial to the mentors and mentees you’re trying to pair.