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Publication Title | Remote Working is the Future of Work

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“Technology, when used properly, can facilitate trust-building, effective communication, and overall coordination of teams; however, the reverse is also true in that ineffective use of technology can impair team functionality.[...]any technology usage in virtual teams should be aligned to optimize team trust, communication, and coordination.” (Ferrell & Kline, 2018)
Different names are associated with these types of work arrangements, i.e. virtual, distributed, telecommuting, nomads, freelancers; however, no matter the labels, the opportunities and challenges are the same.
According to a Global Coworking Survey (Deskmag, 2018) there were 18,900 coworking spaces3 globally servicing 1.69 million remote workers. This is especially interesting when considering results reflected in this same report revealed that 66% of respondents cited their home office as their primary work environment, with only seven percent working primarily from a coworking space. This begs the question: do we really know the extent of the number of remote workers globally?
In their paper on virtual competence, Wang and Haggerty (para. 4), “...theorize that individual virtual competence (IVC) is a new and distinct capability that individuals require in order to perform effectively in their organizations”.
Much research exists pertaining to the necessity of hiring based on identified competencies, “...abilities or attributes, described in terms of behaviour, key to effective and/or highly effective performance within a particular job” (University of Nottingham, 2018). Skills are about what is done while competencies look at how a task is done. Competencies link to performance management in both face-to-face and remote settings; however, as confirmed by Al-Husaam (2005), most examinations of appraisal systems focus on organizations built on collocated settings, not on those virtual or distributed. Key information provided by researchers even go so far as to identify competencies on which to base those appraisals (Wang & Haggerty, 2011). However, the gap becomes evident when considering performance evaluation, based on relevant competencies, from the perspective of remote work. Certain complexities exist around remote teams that may not be evident in collocated teams; the simple fact that remote teams depend largely on technology vs. face to face for communication can change the nature of how employers conduct performance evaluations. Observation, a valuable tool for evaluation is not possible when the employee is located across the globe, nor is a 360 evaluation practical when interactions between employee, manager, client, or co-workers are less frequent that their collocated counterparts.
In a publication regarding the evaluation of virtual teams, (Albertson, 2009, p. 28) the author states that:
Little is published about the evaluation of employees in virtual teams. While this paper has discussed the traits of virtual teams as well as the qualities of performance appraisal types currently in existence, and has made inferences about which methods are best suited for virtual management relationships, no studies have been done to assess the effectiveness or accuracy of any particular technique when used with members of a virtual team.
Armed with this knowledge, the focus of the research was established. Students graduating today with business degrees will be working in careers yet to be created. How do educators prepare them for what lies ahead? This research was a collaborative effort between academia and industry focused on technology related roles. The research question was “What competencies are necessary for success as a remote worker, and what feedback and support are required for continued growth and success?” Two Research Objectives flowed from this question: 1. To identify the necessary competencies for successful in a virtual, technology environment. 2. To articulate what is important to technology sector remote workers regarding feedback and support.
3 Coworking spaces are places where independent professionals working together in a shared space of creative collaboration and community.
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