Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Connecting at a Distance

In retirement, I do part-time work for two organizations.  One is located near Columbia, South Carolina, and one in Shawnee Mission, Kansas.  One is about an 8-hour drive from my home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, the other about 10 hours driving time. I identify with the growing number of people who work remotely from their organizations.

In a recent blog, Paul White shared these statistics: 
  • In 1995 only 9% percent of American workers telecommuted, but in 2015 off-site workers increased to 37%.
  • In 2016, 43% of American workers reported they spend at least part of their week working remotely.
  • It has been estimated that 50% of the U.S. workforce has job responsibilities that are compatible with working off-site at least occasionally and between 80% and 90% of the U.S. workforce reports it would like to work remotely at least part-time.


White’s blog deals with showing appreciation for employees, both those who work at the company’s physical office and those who work remotely (and I recommend looking at his site).

White points out, “Being valued by their supervisor and colleagues is important to those who work remotely and communicating appreciation can be done effectively across long distance.” The challenge is that not only showing appreciation but having meaningful communication with those who work remotely takes extra effort.

The casual conversations that take place in a hallway or before a meeting do not happen with remote workers. I miss the opportunity I had when working on a college campus or at a state convention headquarters of connecting with others through shared break times or a brief, casual office visit.

We cannot completely make up for that face-to-face contact for those who work remotely, but we can find effective ways to engage them with e-mail, individual video conferences, and on-site meetings.  Including and valuing those who work remotely takes time and forethought but, as White notes, “the results are worth it!”





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