Remote Control: Is Work-From-Home Here to Stay?
In this post-pandemic world, remote work is one element that has hung on, but there are mixed emotions about it. Employees tend to like it, but some employers have concerns.
A recent Crain’s Cleveland article, “Bosses dislike work-from-home but suspect they are stuck with it” discussed how remote work is changing the workplace environment and culture, but the article suggests remote and hybrid work schedules are here to stay despite some opposition. Two Kent State University professors who do research in this space weigh in on this discussion.
Catrina Johnson, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Management in Ambassador Crawford College of Business and Entrepreneurship, has thoughts on why employers do not like it.
Johnson suggests it may be because executives have less control and knowledge about what employees are working on.
“I think that's the manager role mindset,” Johnson said. “That, ‘I physically need to see you to make sure that you're actually doing the work, even though that does not change the dynamics of the work at all’ mindset.”
Johnson also mentions that trusting employees is a key factor in this conversation, and a solution could be to create an environment where employees and employers could build a sense of community with each other.
One example is remote meetings where sometimes individuals feel invisible. Building a sense of community would come from making sure people are heard in different virtual spaces as well as having a relationship comprised of check-ins with a supervisor, Johnson said.
Velvet Weems-Landingham, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Management at Kent State University at Geauga, has been featured in research concerning virtual teams and technology-enhanced learning.
Johnson and Weems-Landingham both agree that bosses have a distaste for remote work because of the control factor; however, Weems-Landingham has an added perspective on the topic.
"Beyond the control aspect, I'm thinking it’s just traditionally how work was done, and if you have that generation that's in leadership, they're just used to that tradition,” Weems-Landingham said. “They're used to that control, they're used to you to being easily accessible, and to be able to track kind of what you're doing.”
Weems-Landingham predicts that a hybrid work schedule will rise to the top, but schools and organizations need to be prepared to accommodate a half in-person and half remote schedule.
According to the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, a hybrid work schedule is increasing productivity to where employees are more productive in a shorter amount of time, and attrition rates are down by 33%.
Weems-Landingham said Kent State has acknowledged the shift, and it is evident through the new business building on Front Campus.
“For example, the College of Business has just built a whole new building and some of the space has been dedicated to what is called ‘hoteling’ space,” Weems-Landingham said. “And what that means is that you can drop in, and you can have a place to sit and work.”
As someone who works at a regional campus, she says a space like this would be helpful to other faculty and students because they can use hoteling space to complete work outside of a living space or classroom/office environment.
“I think it's what you make of it, like any other work experience, there are going to be positives, and there are going to be negatives,” Weems-Landingham said about remote work. “I think the more skill sets you have, the better your experiences are going to be.”