Effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication in the workplace

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.1 Remote working

In the UK, there are 4.8 million freelancers, mostly home-based workers, making up 15% of the workforce, and companies are increasingly allowing employees to work remotely (Sawa, 2019).

Benjamin (no date) suggests 6 ways for an organisation to communicate effectively with its remote workers:

  1. Balance your communications – remote employees can be overlooked because they are out of sight. Try to ensure that someone speaks to a remote member of staff at least once every working day.
  2. Replace water cooler moments with short but frequent communications – exchange pleasantries at the beginning of the day and keep them in the loop about daily happenings in the office.
  3. Choose the right medium for your message – messages that require a quick response should be delivered by phone or instant message, complex instructions can be emailed.
  4. Think critically about how your message will be perceived – as you learned in Week 5, without non-verbal cues, written messages can be misconstrued.
  5. Remember that communication is not a one-way street – let remote colleagues know how to contact you and when you will be available.
  6. Provide opportunities for interaction with other colleagues – this will help them to feel more involved.

From the perspective of the employee, this last point raises the issue of potential loneliness.

Watch this video to hear remote worker Rab Segall talking about how he combats this problem.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 2
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript|Hide transcript
Video 2
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

Activity 1 Could I work remotely?

Timing: Allow 10 minutes for this activity

In the box below, summarise what the pros and cons of working from home would be for you. Aim for at least 3 pros and 3 cons.

To use this interactive functionality a free OU account is required. Sign in or register.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).


Even if you’ve never worked at home in an employment context, the experience could be very similar to time spent writing a dissertation or other piece of academic work. Dorsey (2017) outlines the following pros and cons:


  • flexible working hours
  • no commute
  • better work-life balance
  • home comforts
  • no office politics.


  • social isolation
  • few work friends
  • lack of group brainstorming and colleague support
  • distractions
  • IT issues.

It is interesting that many of the negatives of working from home relate to communication – whether that is social or task-related. Did you highlight any communication issues in your list?

If you are at an early point in your career, you might find that working surrounded by people is more valuable at this stage, as it allows you to establish networks more easily and experience many of the situations and issues outlined so far in this course. The more communication experience you can gain, the better your skills will become.

Remote working is also particularly relevant to a topic you investigated in Week 4 – participating in meetings.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371