Remote work offers a sense of security and safety amid troubling times. Even academics, a typically in-person environment, have turned to remote work. Working remotely is the ‘norm’ now, but that doesn’t mean it’s not creating a new crop of problems.
Many remote workers feel a sense of exclusion from the typical workplace community. Celebrating a new research discovery or academic feat just isn’t the same over video. With an uptick of remote workers reporting depression and despair, employers are actively looking for solutions for more inclusion.
The good news is there are several ways to promote a culture of community and camaraderie among remote workers, even at the level of research and higher education learning. But first, it’s important to understand what remote work entails, and the consequences.
What Remote Work Environments Look Like in Academics
Academia is one of the most front-facing careers out there. It’s only recently that institutions have implemented flexible work that can be done remotely. It was previously believed that working on-site was vital to the industry. Offering the option to work remotely is now the standard.
Working remotely in the field of academia looks different than in the other fields. For example, remote working had been the standard for tech workers long before it became the trend everywhere.
For remote workers, including those in academia, team meetings are now held virtually over visual platforms like Zoom. Instead of consulting co-workers when uncertain, remote workers look up the information in search engines.
Working remotely does provide a more work/life balance with time saved by commuting or late nights on campus.
The Challenges in Remote Working
The biggest loss of working side-by-side with colleagues is a strong bond and sense of community. While remote workers are still part of the institution, they are isolated in their own corner of the Zoom room, if you will.
In general, remote working has been shown to increase productivity because of strict scheduling and oversight. However, not everyone works well independently, especially with distractions everywhere around them.
Many people work remotely from home, which presents a multitude of potential problems. Family members bursting in during a conference call, spotty internet, or noise distractions are all regular mishaps when working remotely.
Methods to Cultivate Community Remotely
The lack of community among remote workers isn’t an insurmountable problem. There are several ways to cultivate a sense of community. The Zoom meetings held virtually are often recorded or otherwise documented. That small gesture of inclusion can plant the seed of camaraderie.
Starting team meetings with informal greetings can help replicate the feeling of togetherness that’s often lost in the translation virtually. For example, inquiring about how everyone’s day is going, or briefly chit-chat about something newsworthy but unrelated to your field of study.
Another option is to set aside a time for remote workers to interact freely without a deadline hanging over their heads. A moment at the virtual water cooler.
Perhaps the biggest drawback of remote working is that it's so impersonal. Communicate one-on-one with everyone on the team through direct messages to create individual work relationships.
Everyone on the team should be trained in anti-discrimination and inclusivity techniques. Additionally, the institution must set a zero-tolerance policy for any type of harassment or bullying. You might be surprised to learn that bullying is more likely to occur in a remote work environment.
Remote workers must have the ability to share work documents and information with each other. Restricting the access of information only leads to an ineffective workforce. It can also unintentionally foster feelings of exclusion and inferiority.
How Impactio Can Help You and Your Team Build Connectivity
A secure platform where remote workers can gather and interact virtually is essential to productivity. Impactio is America’s premier platform for academia. Impactio can help cultivate a community among scholars and researchers who work remotely.
The platform provides the tools and resources necessary to ensure remote workers feel appreciated and part of the team. Create a profile on Impactio today to begin learning how to build a community for your institution’s remote workers.