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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Think critically about how your message will be perceived – as you learned in Week 5, without non-verbal cues, written messages can be misconstrued.
- Remember that communication is not a one-way street – let remote colleagues know how to contact you and when you will be available.
- 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.
Activity 1 Could I work remotely?
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.
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
- 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.