Remote Employees Are More Engaged? Really?

Employees who work remotely are actually more engaged with their teams than their “in-office” counterparts, according to a recent Harvard Business Review study. Surprised?

Our own Keith Ferrazzi has published advice on how dispersed teams can be more productive than co-located teams in Harvard Business Review, and yet my initial reaction was disbelief. How can individuals be more engaged with people they never see than with people down the hall? But author Scott Edinger proposes several possible reasons:

  1. Proximity breeds complacency.  Even co-located teams communicate primarily through email. It’s so easy to walk 100 feet to communicate personally that people take it for granted.
  2. Absence makes people try harder to connect. People make more of an effort to connect when they you don’t ordinarily interact with people.
  3. Leaders of virtual teams make better use of tools. When your primary form of connecting with people is virtual, you master many different modes of communication.
  4. Leaders of far-flung teams maximize the time their teams spend together. When remote people do finally get face-time with people they don’t see often, leaders do everything to maximize the precious time spent together.

Do you agree with Edinger’s suppositions? Have you noticed more engagement with remote teammates?

Ritu Walia is an FG Analyst.

Comments (3)

  1. This is definitely true for me. I used to work from home a lot and I found that I made a lot more efforts to reach out and connect with others than when I was physically in the office. I was more intentional about connecting and engaging others.

  2. I could agree. My reasoning would be that co-workers who are not sitting close to each other are more interested in each other, they are not “bored” with the person sitting next to him/her for years. It also could be that ‘remote’ colleagues are motivated to get engaged and more involved in what is going on, to be updated with news, share the news with other team members and not to take things for granted.

  3. I think as a remote employee you have to work to stay engaged. So maybe that ultimately results in more engagement? I could see if going either way, honestly.

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