[Today’s guest author is Lewis Edward of TheOfficeProviders.com.]
Absence doesn’t always make the heart grow fonder. Especially in a business setting, with the upsurge in outsourcing, remote employees are beginning to feel more and more isolated from the rest of the business.
Remote employees are essentially people who work at home, or in virtual offices, and are generally not supervised by the company except in terms of end results. Not all remote work is computer-based, although most of them are. There are remote jobs like sewing and embroidery, cooking and baking, tutoring and fashion designing.
The majority of remote workers, however, are engaged in tasks like data encoding, transcriptions, article writing, artwork, translations, accounting, etc. ad infinitum. Name a job that’s done in an office or factory and, chances are, there’s a remote worker doing it somewhere.
The plus side of having remote employees
For employers, remote work has the advantages of savings on office space, utility expenses, and other administrative costs. Apart from the home, virtual offices are another venue for remote, off-site work. It also enables them to source from lower-costing locations and tap talent that is only available part-time. Some other benefits of remote work for an employer include:
- Higher productivity by eliminating commuting time and reducing office interruptions
- Lower carbon footprint because of less vehicle emissions and lower fuel usage
- Larger talent pool with the inclusion of disabled persons and retirees
- Decreases in sick leave and improvement in employee morale
The minus side of having remote employees
On the other hand, there are some disadvantages attached to remote work, especially if a company is not prepared to adjust to it. Remote work can have negative effects on a business if:
- Tasks assigned are not suitable for remote work
- Workers need constant personal supervision
- Collaboration with different parts of the business is essential
- Manager does not know how to supervise remote workers properly
The isolation of remote workersOne of the emerging causes of poor remote work is the growing feeling of isolation among remote workers. Because they work at a distance, far from the employer, remote workers are often left out of the information loop. They feel that communication is limited to receiving job instructions and transmitting jobs that have been completed. All the other factors that give a worker satisfaction after a job well done are often omitted.
A remote worker’s perception of what he or she does is limited to the task at hand with no idea of the job’s importance on the company’s success. Even the sense of belonging to an organization or a group is absent, leaving the remote worker feeling like a robot.
Face time and advancement
One of the factors that contributes to a remote worker’s feeling of isolation is the effect of face time on career advancement. Very few companies pay enough attention to the careers of their remote workers, preferring to look at them as cogs in the corporate machine. Managers fall prey to the natural tendency of favoring workers whom they see every day, talk with to face-to-face, meet socially after work, and exchange ideas with day in and day out. Contact with a remote worker is reduced to an input–output activity with no human element in the interaction.
In the process, no real relationship is built up between managers and the remote workers. When promotion time comes around, workers whom the managers can see, talk to, and relate with as persons have an edge over remote workers, who are considered just a little higher than nameless, faceless entities.
How to bring them on streamThe responsibility for making remote workers feel like part of the business lies with managers. It takes some adjustment, but managers need to level the playing field between office and remote workers. To do this, they can:
- Give remote workers an equal chance to handle important tasks automatically assigned to office staff
- Do a regular one-on-one with remote employees and get to know them as people
- Keep remote employees on the mailing list of all relevant company information
- Inform office staff of the work and achievements of remote workers
- Conduct virtual get-togethers for remote workers whenever possible
Only by making remote workers really a part of the office team will they feel and stay that way.
About the Author:
Lewis Edward is one of the owners of TheOfficeProviders. He is a real estate investor with many interests in other sectors. Lewis researches and contributes various written features for TheOfficeProviders in areas regarding real estate, including office space for rent and serviced offices, and general business and economy matters. Lewis is experienced in the inner workings of both the traditional and flexible workspace industries and has developed close links with various figures in real estate circles, as well other circles.
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