Advances in technology have increased the number of remote employees in today’s workforce by a large margin. Remote employees work from a location that is physically separate from their employer or business headquarters, but typically stay connected to their coworkers in the virtual realm. The ability to work remote has increased productivity for many, allowing employees to work closer to home or have the freedom to move with a spouse while still keeping their job.
This type of worker is seen frequently in a coworking environment. Coworking spaces provide a community for trailing spouses and recent transplants who are not able to work from home. The CoLab proudly houses Floridians, Coloradans, Californians, New Yorkers and District of Columbians (just to name a few), who have made the move to Roanoke for just as many reasons. Their work is mainly completed via a cell phone and Internet connection, allowing them to work from just about anywhere. They sport titles like “Internet technologist,” “app developer,” “cyber security analyst,” among others. They chose CoLab, in many cases, because of the community of coworkers that is missing in a coffee shop or home office.
Organizations have a lot to consider when deciding whether to allow their employees to work from locations physically far from headquarters. There is an ongoing debate on the effectiveness of remote employees and many organizations have tried this system only to watch it fail. Beyond these considerations, organizations also grapple with an interesting situation: remote employees, most of whom are not public relations professionals, are consistently required to represent the organization from afar.
“So, tell me about your job,” is a frequent request, a rite of passage, when coworking space members meet for the first time. As the sole representative of the organization, it is then that person’s responsibility to accurately represent the company - and do so over and over. The phrase “that’s not in my job description” is inaccurate when it comes to the remote workers across the world who are frequently faced with the task of managing PR for their organization without the council of those hired by the organization to do just that.
Adding this responsibility to the employee’s plate should not necessarily be added to the “cons” list of whether to allow employees the right to work remote. Rather, it is an opportunity to trust employees as stewards of the organization’s mission. More trust equals a higher degree of ownership and diligence when it comes to each representation of the organization. Allowing for these employees to spread the mission of the organization through their unique lens can be positively impactful in a way traditional PR cannot. When organizations make room for this type of leadership, a new kind of employee is given space to grow.
Originally published in Valley Business Front