Thursday, 20 May 2010

When research gets remote (by Tom)


Over the months I spent working at Bloom last year, I spent a lot of time working from home in my London flat.

Besides the endless cups of tea to help me keep self-motivated, communication was crucial to keeping the link between me and Bloom going, and making sure we both felt in the loop.

At this time, I was not alone. The act of working away from the office, or remote working has seen a sudden increase over the past few years.

This spurred me on to conduct my dissertation research into looking at communication differences in remote and office based workers, and their impact on employee satisfaction and organizational commitment.

A lot to fit in, yes. But bear with me.

My main findings were that in both groups, certain elements of communication were crucial in maintaining employee satisfaction and commitment to one’s organization, namely; feedback, effective communication with management and 'open' communication. Certain elements of personality were related to these too, but these were the most common findings.

Last week however I presented my dissertation at a British Psychological Society’'s conference in Southampton, and had the chance to speak to a few observers regarding their experiences of communication at work. (I also won 'best poster', and saw how much students appreciate a free buffet).

But what did I learn?

From the individuals I spoke to, I learnt that communication goes a lot deeper than this, with enormous differences between people, depending on the size of the organization, how many tea breaks you get, or how your boss speaks to female or male employees differently. I was expecting this though, and it didn'’t surprise me.

So what did I really learn?

I learnt that however good or thorough you want your research to be and for your findings to tell you something, you learn and gain so much more from speaking to people about their individual experiences and learn just how broad the variation in communication is.

What's more - what good is any research if we can't go out and develop, share and apply it?

This is why I can'’t wait to pass these exams I'’m currently edging towards, and get into the spaghetti junction that is how people work best.

Tom.

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