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Why Remote Workers Are More (Yes, More) Engaged

An interesting article from Harvard Business Review arrived in my email this morning that I want to share:

Why Remote Workers Are More (Yes, More) Engaged.

Two points that stand out to me are:

  • Absence makes people try harder to connect
  • Leaders of virtual teams make better use of tools
Unknown American Mountain
Your remote worker is somewhere in this picture.

I agree with Mr. Edinger for the most part, but one point that he omits is the perspective of the remote worker.  I believe that many remote workers actually put more effort into making sure they connect with their leaders.  I do work remotely quite often for my clients, in the capacity of an independent consultant, and remaining visible and accessible is very important.  Communication, have channels in multiple directions, flows as much from the workers back to their managers, as the other way around.  Engagement is a two-way street.

I think that remote workers feel that they need to prove themselves, to justify their absence from the office.  I was one of the first remote workers at my company in the late 1990’s, when working remotely was still a rare thing.  The friction that I received from one of the directors, who was not my boss, almost stopped the remote work, until I was able to justify why I needed to work remotely.  The justification was backed up by delivery.

Delivery is where the remote worker really engages his or her boss.  The efficiencies gained by working remotely allows the remote worker to deliver more often and in a more visible way.  In this way, they are engaging their leaders and other team members more than those workers on site.

For the record, I believe a blended onsite/offsite remote work arrangement works best, in particular if you are an independent consultant.  It is good for your client to see your smiling face on a regular basis. 🙂