From education to employment

Hardwired for social connection in the digital age: why investment is needed in remote operations

Sian Wilson, Executive Director of Commercial at The Skills Network

The pandemic ignited a digital first revolution, with the sudden change in lifestyle inducing a long term societal shift never before seen, with the move to digital living in the pandemic occurring at unprecedented speed.

The ability for such effective adaptation during the pandemic was entirely based on widespread access to advanced technologies, systems and resources and now, two years on, remote working remains in the mainstream and popular to many.

While the move to more reliance on digital collaboration has allowed for benefits and created a more desirable work life balance for some, as a species hardwired for social connection, questions arise on the impacts of a digitally dependent society.

A survey published by Nuffield Health reported that 80% of UK employees that worked from home felt that doing so negatively impacted their mental health[1], with findings revealing an increased pressure to respond quickly and be present at their computers all day contributed to feelings of stress and anxiety.

Despite this, one in five Brits want to work full-time remotely with those in professional occupations, managers, directors and senior officials most likely to be working in a remote position.

The key to successful remote work and training opportunities, is investment into the practice. Once corporate leaders recognise the power, potential and benefits of remote working and training they will invest in the development of remote first as a resource, introducing better support for employers across remote roles.

Three ways to better support remote work and training:

Ensure opportunity for human connection:

While advancing technologies have improved the quality of collaboration in the workplace, with systems like Trello and Slack providing great project management tools, the power of conversation can’t be forgotten and contact with employees via phone or video call is crucial.

At The Skills Network for example, we ensure continued opportunity for human connection by offering one to one tutor support throughout our customer’s learning journey, a critical element for successful remote online activity.

Encourage a healthy work/life balance by setting clear working hours:

While the flexibility of remote working is attractive to many, remote working can blur the lines between working and home life. By setting clear boundaries on working hours and ideally working space, employers can help avoid staff burnout and ensure higher levels of productivity.

Promote team collaboration

A productive team is a team that communicates well so ensuring provisions are in place to encourage contact throughout the week is beneficial, instilling successful working relationships between team members. Increased social interaction with work colleagues can help reduce some of the impacts of remote working, such as loneliness and isolation.

A remote first approach has many benefits, with research suggesting that working from home can increase productivity by 35-40%, decrease rates of absence in work and with 54% of employees saying they would change their job for one that offered more flexibility, investing in remote resources can benefit staff retention and increases business attraction for recruitment. [2]

Remote work has also been linked to improved air quality and a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, fossil fuel usage and water pollution, creating a working model better fit for the modern world.

By Sian Wilson, Executive Director of Commercial at The Skills Network



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