Business consultants at McKinsey & Company find that almost 60% of Americans are now exercising the remote work option. Further another 87% of the work force would eagerly jump at the chance to work remotely if given the chance, according to McKinsey. This leaves just 13 percent, according to the researchers, who indicated that they would turn down an offer to work remotely. If you want to cut to the chase, speed read through the remote work research, and get to the meat of the issue, you are welcome to scroll down.
While much is shared about workers who prefer remote work, working from home and working from anywhere, let’s take a moment to analyze the characteristics and attitudes of the 13% okay?
Workers that constitute the thirteen percent are those who don’t share the global interest in working remotely. McKinsey identified these traits:
- They were generally older than those who had a preference for working remotely (19 percent of the workers within the 55- to 64-year-old age bracket) declined to accept the offer to work remotely when given the opportunity;
- They tended to earn lower wages (17 percent of employees in the $25,000 to $74,999 annual income bracket) rejected the priviledge to work from home.
Reasons why Workers Declined Option to Work Remotely
McKinsey also found that those who decline the option to work from home, did so for the following reasons (that were not separately quantified in their report): the held preferences for working on-site, home environment nonconducive for working from home, lacking in the tools, devices, and skills to work in a productive manner, and because they felt that there were certain advantages to working in-person.
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In reviewing the data, maybe the small percentage of the workforce who would decline the offer to work remotely if given the opportunity knows something that the general population has yet to be made aware? Let’s read the last sentence paraphrased from the McKinsey report again, “because they felt that there were certain advantages to” reporting to work in a traditional in-person setting.
Loss of Remote Worker Informal Interconnectivity
The answer may be found in an article that appeared in the Nature of Human Behavior. The researchers conducted a very robust study of more than 60,000 workers working remotely at Microsoft. They analyzed emails, calendars, instant messages, video conferencing as well as audio communications for six months. Their findings were striking. The researchers found that remote workers at Microsoft were experiencing the following:
- Less fluid working relationships,
- Fewer opportunities for agile networking,
- More isolated and siloed work dynamics,
- Fewer bridges existed to fill the gaps in communication between groups and among individual team members,
- Reduced synchronous, real time exchanges of information and communication, in contrast to
- Increased asychronous exchanges.
The researchers, therefore, concluded “together, these effects may make it harder for employees to acquire and share new information across the network.” On the basis of the McKinsey and Microsoft studies; we might determine that the chance to acquire information and the opportunity to network informally are two critical elements disadvantegous for the remote workers.
Remote work offers fewer chances to get new information and to network
First, let’s consider networking. How important is networking to one’s career advancement? Bianna Cole, writing for Forbes argues, “networking is not only about trading information, but also serves as an avenue to create long-term relationships with mutual benefits. ”
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Second, let’s look at information. Just how important is information you might ask? The Library of Information Science Education Network, in its article “The Needs and Importance of Information” posits that information is a critical aspect of decision making, it increases the personal knowledge of the recipent, and more importantly, “information generates new information.”
Considering the research we have covered in this article, how might remote workers remain connected when working remotely?
Five tips to remain connected as a remote worker
Arrive to Virtual Meetings early.
Yes, we know that time management is just as important during virtual meetings as they are in person. But, a key aspect of early arrival is that you get the chance for a one-on-one with your supervisor or higher ups to share ideas, hear about the latest news, or just plain show off your time management skills. Just because you are working from home now doesn’t mean punctuality isn’t valued. Further, arriving early gives you the chance to check your camera, audio and pre-upload your presentation documents for sharing. Don’t you hate it when a colleague knows that he/she is on the agenda to give a presentation but doesn’t have the documents or powerpoint preloaded? Just because you are working from home doesn’t mean you take can refrain from necessary steps at preparation.
Exercise every opportunity and use all formats to exchange ideas.
For instance, does your office manage an information Discord channel for sharing information about pets, hobbies and other outside interests? If so, join it for Pete’s sake and be a regular contributor. Here you will use the opportunity to forge deeper and longer lasting relationships with colleagues that could last beyond your time with a specific firm. Further, you never know how a referral might land other opportunitie for you.
Don’t miss the chance to stand out and get noticed.
It’s really easy and very tempting to be the ‘wallflower’ in the background, just nodding as your colleagues are sharing ideas, leading discussions and participating in brainstorming sessions during these virtual meetings. I do it sometimes too. But you have to remember that the time that you are working from home is actually the company’s time. You’ve got to give just as must energy, excitement and enthusiasm to your virutal meetings as you would in person. What I am saying is if you are a Type A personality during in-person meetings, you gotta present that Type A personality virtually.
Yes, go ahead and utilize the Chat function during virtual meetings.
Yes, go ahead. Dare to utilize the Chat function during virtual meetings. But don’t do it to memorialize your weaknesses, ie “Is the meeting about to start? I totally forgot about it?” “What is the topic of this meeting, I can’t find yesterday’s agenda.”
No, you need to use the Chat feature to etch in stone your brillance, your foresight and your value. For instance, you might consider writing, “This meeting brings up a good point. Shouldn’t we use the synergies of product XYZ and do a cross promotion across multiple platforms?” Transcripts of virtual meetings and chats can be used by supervisors as a point of reference, a means of recalling key details, and for identifying top flyers.
Keep your work calendar flexible.
Just because you are now working from home doesn’t mean you can pack your daily schedule with four to five virtual meetings per day. You need to keep your daily calendar open with enough space so that you have the option to re-schedule and ‘pencil’ someone in for an informal chat. Also, while it is encouraged to refrain from maintaining office hours beyond a typical in office workday, know that your colleagues may be working from across the globe. So, an 8:00pm meeting to accommodate your Asian counterpart is something that may be expected. Keep your work calendar flexible so that you don’t miss out on key pieces of information and/or opportunities to network.