Page 7 - Adnews Magazine May-June 2021
P. 7

                  Editor’s Letter
  Is daydreaming in a virtual office real?
If no-one sees you being smart, does it count? Visibility is a critical issue in a career. Demonstrating your worth and making sure someone notices is all part of the game of getting ahead, getting a pay rise, more responsibility and a new title.
How then does this work when remote working?
Many people embraced working from home, but com- ing out of the COVID-19
pandemic some very senior managers in the industry are quietly questioning its worth.
A fine move during lock- down (as the only way to keep the business af loat and to maintain a bank of talent) but we should march back to the now safe-ish office where we can be more effective.
But do we work better in an office? The remote experiment was a success. Virtual teams of employees in Australia adapted remarkably well, according to research at Curtin University.
Over time, they got better
at it. Teams refined collabora-
tion processes following lock-
down and improved their
ability to function and manage issues.
But are careers made in the office, and are we more efficient there?
Dr Florian Klonek, from the Centre for Transformative Work Design based at Curtin’s Future of Work Institute, says many people see advantages of being in the same physical space as colleagues.
He says that being in the same room with team mem- bers has socio-motivational gains, which means it is fun and motivating to brainstorm collectively about ideas
However, some research shows that remote
working means more unique ideas compared with face-to-face teams.
“The reason is that when brainstorming in the same office with other team members, we are more susceptible to a phenomenon called ‘production
blocking’ - that is, team mem- bers with potentially creative/ unique ideas cannot share them because they are ‘blocked’ by those team members who are speaking (taking space away from the others),” says Dr Klonek.
“Overall, I think both ‘ingre- dients’ (being motivated to work creatively and contribut- ing unique ideas) are necessary for teams to function well.”
Certainly remote working makes it harder to coordinate activities between different team members.
When multiple people work on the same task, it can be eas- ier to meet in the same space, discuss the task at hand, share materials and methods.
Remember the feeling of waiting for a response to your last email? “In a ‘virtual space’,
these coordinated actions are much harder, and they can be even worse when there are differences in time zones, and extensive response lags,” says Dr Klonek.
Research suggests the upside, when stripping away the COVID-19 hassles of having to deal with flatmates or run homeschooling, is that working remotely gives people more autonomy and control.
“That is, remote working allows more control about how to schedule and plan our tasks, which also explains why remotely working employees often have higher job satisfaction,” says Dr Klonek.
   CHRIS PASH | May/June 2021 7

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