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Remote work: equipping business students for the working reality.
Roberta Sawatzky and Nathan J. Sawatzky1
We are living in an economy where talent acquisition and retention have become one of the major challenges facing organizations. The good news is that a new workforce has emerged to fill those gaps and is not only location independent, but skilled, passionate, and willing to work without bricks and mortar offices. Business schools are responsible for graduating students who are ready to enter careers in a variety of industries, ready and willing to join the ranks of those location independent workers. However, are they ready for such a context? Do the skills and competencies required for success in this context match the skills and competencies business schools are building into their students? The results of this research project provide insights into the required competencies for success, as well as the support and feedback required by the remote worker, all from the perspective of remote workers.
KEY WORDS: remote, remote workers, competencies, support, feedback, business education, coworking, virtual teams.
AUTHORS: Roberta Sawatzky MA, CPHR Nathan J. Sawatzky
Okanagan College School of Business Sociologist and remote business
The term ‘remote workers’ refers to individuals and teams who are not required to show up at a physical location on a regular basis. This working construct is also referred to as Smart working, choosing the best place (home, coworking space, office, local, or global) to get the work done (Tierney, 2018). Along with providing a solution to the talent crisis, which, according to Korn Ferry, is predominately based on simple demography.” (May 2018), businesses benefit on several levels. Those benefits include higher employee output, control over costs, diversified workforce, expanded recruiting pool, interruption prevention, employee retention, and a stronger culture (Farrer, 2018). Of course, these benefits hinge on the success of the hiring process, making sure that the workers hired actually have the competencies necessary to be successful in these roles, and then on the continuing support of these same workers. A survey conducted by Flexjobs reported that individual workers desire remote work because it provides great personal benefits: work-life balance, flexibility, meaningful work, autonomy, freedom, and independence (Reynolds, 2017).
This research2 focused on remote workers and distributed teams. These virtual or remote working individuals and teams may split their time between collocated spaces and off-site, while others may work virtually 100% of the time location independent. It is important to note that remote workers use technology extensively to support their communication and collaboration.
1 Research team: Primary researcher Roberta Sawatzky, secondary researcher Nathan J. Sawatzky, remote business leader and sociologist; research assistant Rodrigo Bruno MBA; research supervisor Lee Cartier M.Sc., P.Ag.
2 Research funded by the Centre for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Research (CBBER) at Okanagan School of Business. Facilitation of the anonymous survey and response link provided by Okanagan College Institutional Research
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