Engaging the teleworker in the digital workplace

Web conferencing and online collaboration specialists PGi have published the results of a recent survey of 3,000 workers globally to get a 2015 insight into teleworking (or ‘telecommuting’) and options in a digital workplace.

Company management needs to understand the pros and cons of this increasingly adopted work approach to ensure their business looks attractive and retains the best talent.

Positives about teleworking:
• 66% reported that telecommuting has become more positively viewed within their organization.
• 79% have the opportunity to work remotely at least one day a week.
• More flexibility in hours and workplace – personal benefit
• Eliminates or reduces commute times – personal benefit
• Better work-life balance – personal benefit
• The proliferation of mobile devices and cloud-based apps – making work less of a place to go vs something you access whenever and wherever you choose – personal and corporate benefit

Challenges with a flexible workforce:
• 54% of non-teleworkers said they remain in the office because telecommuting isn’t an option (resentment can build if communication is poor when requests are turned down without contextual clarification).
• Logistical barriers with new technologies, business processes or reimagined roles can exist – personal and corporate benefit.
• Office alienation, sense of disconnect and loneliness – the majority of remote workers  cannot create the same rapport as their onsite colleagues with F2F engagements, conversations and spontaneous brainstorms – personal benefit.
• Poor communication – despite email, unified communications, online meetings, team workspaces – the perceived benefits will reduce if there is not good 2-way communication.  Personal and corporate benefit.

Teleworking is certainly worth considering by digitally-enabled companies.  Whilst wholesale remote working will invariably be more challenging and distancing between teams, well managed partial teleworking can also add freshness and increased workflow from lack of interruption.

Companies offering flexible work programmes WILL differentiate themselves in the marketplace in attracting and retaining top talent.  However, whatever sophisticated collaboration technologies are enabled, maintaining contact with the ‘human’ in the human resource must be central, whatever the level of seniority.

Added to this, any offsite worker needs to be well managed, integrated and nurtured like any other, with proper processes, accountability and understanding if the system it is to work and BOTH company and individual to benefit.

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