people office group team

Teams can work from different locations but have to be willing to stay disciplined, open and committed. Source: Pexels

Time to get serious about Internet etiquette for remote work

REMOTE WORK is becoming increasingly popular in Asia thanks to the rise of Internet and telecommunicating options, which now allow employees to be anywhere and still get the job done. However, there’s still a need to set up frameworks and workplace cultures that help cultivate a positive work experience, no matter where you are. 

Asia is not well known for being totally welcoming to the concept of remote work. Cultures all across the continent value the physical presence of the employee in the office as a visible cue of their loyalty and commitment to the company and their work.

“Asian companies put heavy restrictions on remote working, with the result that employees often work hard in the office until midnight and come in on weekends as well,” a blog post by startup community site Meet said.

“For these workers, a good balance between work and life is a concept that’s far away.”

However, there’s increasing evidence that remote working options can actually have a positive impact on overall employee productivity. A report by the Harvard Business Review looked at a project by Chinese travel company, Ctrip, which experimented by giving their employees the option to work from home or outside the office for the duration of nine months. At the end of the period, Ctrip saved an estimated US$1,900 per employee, and researchers found that remote workers were 50 percent less likely to quit and completed 13.5 percent more work than their in-office peers.

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Overall, researchers found that remote workers were more likely to be a more productive due to quieter environments, they were less likely to get sick, and took shorter breaks across the board.

Similar kinds of studies have been conducted for years, and point to the overwhelming conclusion that remote working options are actually good for the company. In response, more companies across Asia are offering the option to employees to work from home, and co-working spaces are cropping up all over the place to cater to the rise of the digital nomad. The fragmentation and high-growth rates all across Asia Pacific makes it particularly suitable to co-working culture.

Furthermore, working remotely just makes more sense for companies that are looking to work across borders and with partners overseas. The Internet and mobile connectivity across a variety of devices are helping to enhance online collaboration and communication.

Yet remote working is not a one-size-fits-all solution for all companies – in fact, some companies may find that remote working options may harm a company in the long run. There are many different kinds of remote work, from flexible hours to structures that make it easy for one person in a team to work from home. However, a report from Bloomberg also indicates the struggles with such benefits.

In a particular company, remote work was introduced but had the negative effect of fracturing teams. According to a Deloitte study cited by Bloomberg, only 38 percent of companies have homogenously structured teams, meaning that collaborations between different job types are increasingly prevalent, making remote work unfeasible. In other cases, workers could be unreachable or be skipping out on attending necessary meetings – turns out, not actually being there is a great excuse.  

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Etiquette for the remote worker

However, businesses and companies looking to implement some kind of remote work or flexi-hours framework can circumvent a lot of the issues brought about by this new reality of employment. The digital space can be challenging, but companies should consider implementing new rules of engagement for remote workers which can help delineate boundaries early on.

remote work

Remote work can have a positive influence on workers, and actually results in fewer sick days, shorter breaks and higher productivity. Source: Shutterstock

Companies should consider setting up conversations between co-workers about what to expect and what is expected of them when remote working. The biggest issue with remote work is the freedom factor – if you don’t have a supervisor breathing down your neck, what’s to stop you from packing off on holiday without finishing that project you’re supposed to be doing?

Employees need to cultivate a high level of discipline and acknowledge that being able to work from home is a privilege they have to earn – that means being available whenever you can, but also keeping communication lines open. Many companies operating remote working policies often employ a gamut of communication options from email, web chat, and messaging services.

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Keep talking to each other – just because you’re not working in a physical space together doesn’t mean you’re exempt from keeping communications professional and respectful. Team members should still try to stay open to each other, share perspectives and discomforts in order to ensure spaces remain safe and positive.

Furthermore, employers also have to respect that to an extent, remote workers expect a level of independence that might be difficult to adhere to at first. Employers and team members should pay attention more to invitations to collaborate rather than the same strict marching orders, just from your living room rather than the boardroom. Remote teams should be aware of each other’s different experiences and be a positive influence to ensure productivity remains high.