Research Takeaways: What Makes Remote Workers Successful

Research Takeaways: What Makes Remote Workers Successful

By: Roberta Sawatzky

One of my favorite broadcasters of all time has to be Paul Harvey. I remember him most for his news segment, The Rest of the Story, which delved into the forgotten or little known facts behind stories of famous people and events. His closing line has become a commonly used and understood phrase by all those who appreciated his contribution…and now you know the rest of the story!

This blog is in some way a ‘nod’ to the value of hearing the rest of the story. In this case, the final results of an almost year long research project. My son, Nathan Sawatzky, and I conducted research regarding remote workers and the competencies that contribute to their success. Out of that research came a remote worker’s perspective on their need to be supported, what that support looks like, what valuable feedback looks like, and other key motivators that result in their being able to produce the high quality work organizations and clients are looking for.

My commitment in this research was to hear the voice of the remote worker, and to approach it with an academic perspective and industry collaboration. Both of us are involved in both areas. I am a business professor and remote consultant. Nathan is a student in sociology and a remote consultant. Needless to say, we both had a vested interest in the topic! Our connections afforded us the unique perspective of ‘walking in another man’s shoes’ as we approached the many individuals who so graciously and willing allowed us to delve into their experiences…the good, the bad, and ugly of it all! The experiences of the humans involved were the focus and drive of the conversations as we heard from some 250 remote workers through meetups, one-on-one conversations, virtual calls, and survey responses.  

While one outcome of this research is an academic paper, the other is a report crafted for use across businesses of all types and sizes. In this industry report, we strive to help inform:

  1. How business schools can best prepare young people to enter this new way-of-working context.

  2. How individuals think through their ‘fit’ to work remotely.

  3. How businesses set up and support those individuals and teams to be successful in a remote context.

  4. How managers and supervisors can develop new skills, or further hone existing skills, for the effective leadership of remote or virtual reports.

  5. How Human Resource professionals create recruitment, selection, and on-boarding processes that result in hiring the right people and setting them up for success.

I am excited and encouraged by what was learned through this research. An amazing global workforce has emerged; we need to grow it, care for it, develop it, and celebrate it!

To find out the details of the learning and to hear the rest of the story, click here to view and download the report.

“Ever since I made tomorrow my favorite day, I've been uncomfortable looking back.”

- Paul Harvey

Roberta Sawatzky is a Business Professor, Remote Worker, Virtual Coach, Speaker, Trainer & Developer. Continually curious about many things. Currently focusing on how remote and virtual employees can be set up for success, and, how to create amazing learning environments that embrace international and domestic students in the college classroom. She care passionately about the development of people.