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Angela Pacienza is the executive editor at The Globe and Mail

Every summer The Globe and Mail welcomes a group of young journalists to work in our newsroom. They get invaluable experience (and a paycheque) while making it easier for newsroom staff to take summer holidays.

This was our second summer doing it virtually. Training was done via video and Slack. We got to know their bookshelves, living rooms and basement offices.

They got to report on big stories (vaccine passports, Olympics, wildfires), design A1 covers, assign photographers, edit important features (residential school burial sites), run our website and write and send news alerts and newsletters.

On the few occasions they did come to the physical office, they were met with rows and rows of empty desks.

As a result, they missed out on a whole lot: sitting at a desk among dozens of others, eavesdropping on more experienced colleagues discussing stories, face time with a wide array of reporters and editors, and watching A1 photo selection meetings among other things.

As they end their contracts and we transition to a hybrid workplace, I’m taking a few lessons from our time together because it’s these very workers, particularly women and minorities, who benefit most from being in the office.

One of our summer staffers, Irene Galea, reported on how young people were feeling about back to office talk: excited and eager.

“Hemmed in by small downtown apartments and the desire to connect and learn from their peers, young employees crave the human interaction the office provides,” she wrote.

On the flip side, many older employees, especially moms of unvaccinated kids, are apprehensive about returning to the physical office. Often there’s no choice anyway given the unpredictability of school and child care closures for COVID-19 scares. This isn’t limited to women, but in many families, primary caregiving often falls to mothers.

Business columnist Rita Trichur wrote last week about how hybrid work risks becoming the next career killer for women. “With the pandemic now in its fourth wave and younger children still ineligible for COVID-19 vaccines, it stands to reason that women, especially working mothers and family caregivers, will be among the last to return to in-person work,” wrote Rita.

That brings with it the risk of being out of sight, and out of mind, for projects, promotions and general decision-making, she said.

“Working women just can’t catch a break.”

The story struck a nerve and was widely read, complete with a robust discussion in the comments.

As leaders, we have to build a workplace culture that ensures no one gets left out – especially women, who often lag behind their male counterparts when it comes to senior positions and opportunities for advancement.

We have to avoid having two tiers of employees – those in the office and those away.

As a manager, I’ve been thinking a lot about face time, how to give it equitably and more of it, especially when I sometimes feel stretched to capacity myself. I don’t want to inadvertently overlook any employees in this new work environment.

But the summer staff taught me that if we’re intentional about it, no one needs to be left behind. We have to prioritize certain people above others. In our case, we prioritized summer staff. We made a point of giving them access to informal networks and conversations. Each had a mentor separate from their manager.

As we head into fall, I am also taking the advice of Art Markman, author of Smart Thinking and Bring Your Brain to Work.

In this piece for Fast Company, he suggests keeping a development spreadsheet for your team. “Every week, take a look at the list of team members and think about when you last spoke with them about their projects and gave them feedback on their performance.” Then check in with them.

He also advises learning who is mentoring or coaching your staffer and checking in with that person, too. Good advice.

And it’s not like we have a choice. With the fourth wave upon us and those under 12 without a vaccine, it’s clear remote work will be part of our fall.

What else we’re thinking about:

Elizabeth Holmes. I can’t get enough of the story of the young entrepreneur who wanted to revolutionize the health industry with an at-home blood test machine. As CEO of Theranos, she built a company worth billions. But she’s now on trial fraud and I am consuming a near-irrational amount of information. It started last year with the book, Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyrou, the Wall Street Journal investigative journalist who first broke the story alleging Theranos technology didn’t work. I’m now listening to Bad Blood: The Final Chapter, a podcast hosted by the same author. If you’re new to Theranos, this setup piece by my colleague Jason Kirby is a good starting point.

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