Face time matters - the dangers of remote working - Business Works
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Face time matters - the dangers of remote working

Adi Gaskell, PEX Remote working is generally seen as a positive thing, indeed Iím doing it as I write this article. People can achieve a better work / life balance, they avoid the stress of the daily commute, and research suggests that they often put in more hours. With technology making it increasingly straight forward to access all of the tools you need to do your job from your personal laptop, the number of people working in such a manner is on the rise.

Is everything as rosy as advocates would suggest though? New research has looked into this very question. The research team quizzed over 11,000 people from a large American company about their working habits. They were asked whether either themselves or their manager worked from the office or remotely and whether they did each of these all the time or mixed it up. In addition they asked about various other work experiences and outcomes to test for happiness and productivity.

Unfortunately, the findings werenít good for advocates of remote working. Employees managed by remote working managers reported that they received less feedback, less professional development, a more unbalanced workload and they felt less empowered.

The researchers suggest that this happens due to social exchange theory, which suggests that working relationships flourish when there are ample opportunities for rich, often face-to-face, exchanges. If itís harder to grab someone for a quick chat, then communication tends to be purely work focused and the enjoyment factor drops. Softer issues such as mentoring or professional development can therefore often be overlooked.

The same results were found when both employee and their manager worked remotely. So the message does appear to be clear. If you want an engaged workforce, you do need to put in the face time.

Adi Gaskell is Head of Online at Process Excellence Network.

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