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Remote Working: Friend or Foe?

by | Aug 9, 2018

Man working remotely looking at his laptop in a coffee shop
Whilst there are obvious benefits for employees in working remotely, do they outweigh the negatives, and how can Social and Emotional Intelligence competencies help both the employer and employee?

In today’s world, striking a balance between work and home life can be a challenge!

Employers that offer their employees the option to work remotely often reap great benefits. Working from home allows employees to work to their own schedule at their own pace. They choose when to work from home and when to attend the office, reducing the time they spend commuting to and from work. These things all help employees with Stress Management as it allows them to better manage their life outside work. All this in turn leads to greater productivity, happier employees and higher morale. Another plus is that sick leave is generally reduced.

Employers who use remote working as standard will obviously benefit from not having to pay rent or running costs of a large office space. In today’s technological age, there is no reason why work cannot be carried out from a separate location without disruption, and with free video-conferencing applications, the personal touch need not be lost completely.

Not everyone desires the ability to work from home, however.

Employees have different abilities and preferences, and for some, working remotely may have a negative impact on their Innovation and Creativity, as they achieve better in these areas in an environment of Teamwork and Collaboration. Working as part of a group, or in an office environment, ideas can be shared and expanded upon.

For those in a leadership role, how would they manage the Coaching and Mentoring of junior colleagues? Not something that can’t be done, but it raises the question of how it would be managed.

What if an employer introduced a policy of working remotely meaning employees didn’t have the choice of going into the office?

Let’s face it, some employees can’t self-manage well. This lack of routine or infrastructure may actually have a negative effect on their productivity. There may be distractions at home, making it more difficult to focus and be productive. This would need to be taken into consideration when recruiting new employees and if any retention issues arose with existing employees.

There is also the social element of working with colleagues.

Colleagues often work better with one another when there is a social element to their relationship. It is important to feel part of something bigger, and not isolated, so measures need to be put into place to address this. You could schedule video conferences, face to face meetings, and social events. Whilst technology is the enabler of remote working, we rely on that technology to work effectively and efficiently. If something goes wrong on the technical front, then it could have wider reaching consequences.

Despite these disadvantages, working remotely seems to have been accepted as a good thing by most businesses however, businesses that wish to implement remote working as standard, need to be aware that it does take planning and investment in training and technology in order to make it work.

It will also need ongoing monitoring, review and an open-door policy for employee feedback. Employers need to be aware of the differing personalities and preferences of their employees, their personal circumstances and ability to work from home, when looking at the best options.

Employees taking advantage of the option to work from home will need to have a high level of Integrity when carrying out their duties and making themselves available. They would also benefit from having a high Achievement Drive, so they are less affected by the negative elements of remote working.

Remember, one size rarely fits all. Consider reaching a balance where those that want to work from home can do so, but maintaining a smaller, cheaper office premises for those that don’t? This would lower costs and would be seen as a real benefit, considering the preferences of each employee.

It is clear that for some people remote working is the ideal set-up, but for some it just doesn’t work at all. Like most things in life, it is down to the individual.

Stress Management, Innovation and Creativity, Teamwork and Collaboration, Coaching and Mentoring, Integrity and Achievement Drive are all competencies of Social and Emotional Intelligence (SEI) that are crucial to the success of a remote working environment. People are social and emotional beings, not robots or technology. Unless we train and support them to develop these skills, the benefits of remote working can be eroded away.

If you would like to learn more about how SEI can help you or your organisation, send me a message. I would be happy to arrange a chat to get you started.