Technology has changed the definition of the ‘workplace’.
Today, the average worker could have a good stab at a full day’s work from a smartphone on a sunny hillside if they were so inclined— providing that hillside had 3G and their mobile battery didn’t die first.
While that’s not the typical embodiment of ‘remote working’, the demands of global business, a wave of new collaboration tools, and the draw of flexible working conditions— not to mention the growth of the gig economy— mean a company’s entire workforce is rarely always under the same roof.
However, even given advances in technology that makes that possible, it would be naive to say that remote working is the same as being up close and personal with your team, and a new report by Canada-based technology company Igloo Software gives credence to that theory.
In its 2019 State of the Digital Workplace report, Igloo found that while technology has made it easier for disparate teams to work together, the benefits of collaboration tools often do not extend beyond the office and, as a result, remote workers are reportedly feeling ‘left out’.
Well over two-thirds (69 percent) of remote working employees (those that work from home at least one day per week) face challenges that their office-based colleagues wouldn’t come across. More than half (56 percent) said they have been excluded from meetings, and 43 percent have found certain people or groups inaccessible as a result of working away from the office.
Other issues include not being able to access important documents or information, being out of the loop on process or policy changes, and being unable to find the right tool to contact someone.
While remote workers tend to be in more senior positions, the study also found that the more senior the worker is, the more remote working challenges they face. Igloo attributes this to senior roles being more collaboration-focused in nature.
“Entry-level work is typically individual contributions and therefore less collaborative and reliant on others, making it easier to perform with less interaction,” reads the report, adding that “tech savviness” as a result of inherent age differences is unlikely to be a core factor.“More senior employees require access to secure documents, information, and people in order to make decisions. Without a modern digital workplace, they encounter more hiccups and hurdles on a daily basis.”
While remote working may be becoming an accepted practice in business— and one that’s growing as the workforce is increasingly made up of a younger generation of workers— the report warns that remote employees could lose their connection to their office-bound teams.
The result of this, says Igloo, is not just bad morale; missed meetings and information loss reported by remote workers presents a real business challenge for teams that could lead to wasted time and decreased revenue as a result.
Combating those negative byproducts requires engaging every employee with a central digital workplace platform where every action is tirelessly logged and tracked. Of course, anyone that has attempted to onboard their team to a new collaboration tool will know that you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.
The above article was originally published in TechHQ