Paradoxes of Engagement: Remote Isn’t
Do remote workers make their managers better?
I admit when I read the Gallup State of the American Workplace 2017 I was surprised by one finding in particular. Gallup had been tracking the engagement of remote workers starting in 2012 and discovered that those who worked remotely reported higher levels of engagement than those who never work remotely, but only up to a point. There seemed to be some limiting factor so that those working remotely less than 20% of the time gained this higher level of engagement, but if that percentage went up, the results regressed to the mean.
That seemed reasonable. I imagined a worker who regularly worked a day a week at home, with predictable positive results. Less commuting. A day with fewer meetings, perhaps, with a less crowded calendar to dedicate time to important work. Perhaps more time with the kids and the significant other.
But that homey view was upended in 2018 when I read the Gallup report when the authors stated,
all employees who spend at least some (but not all) of their time working remotely have higher engagement than those who don’t ever work remotely.
And those that work remotely 60%-80% of the time say they are more likely to strongly agree that working remotely makes them more productive.
These remote workers gain something other than time out of the office. What could it be, I wondered.
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