Advantages and Disadvantages of Remote Working

Overall, the advantages can outweigh the disadvantages for the right kind of organisation, if the right kind of effort is applied. It might also be that a blended approach offers us the best way forward. Gallup’s research found that individuals were most engaged when they worked remotely 60-80% of the time.


  • Reducing social contact: This has to be one of the most critical factors influencing teams to work remotely. Only a month ago, the World Economic Forum reported that there were over 2.6 billion people in lockdown. Covid-19 induced lockdowns have created enormous pressure for teams to work remotely more than ever before.
  • Drastically reducing office, travel time and cost: Back in 2007, IBM estimated a cost-saving of $50million in travel and downtime costs alone, through the use of virtual teams.
  • Locating and retaining talent: The world is now your oyster in terms of finding and hiring the most talented employees since geographic location is no longer an issue, and they are more likely to stay working with you too. 2017 research by Stanford University found that remote workers have 50% lower attrition rate and take fewer sick days.  In a 2015 review on telecommuting Golden and colleagues found that telecommuting increased employees’ job satisfaction, performance and feelings of commitment to an organisation.
  • Improving performance: Virtual teams tend to be more diverse. This diversity of skills, attitudes and competencies is what creates greater creativity and originality amongst team members. McKinsey’s Diversity Study in 2015 found that companies with diverse teams have 35% more chance to outshine non-diverse crews.
  • Increasing productivity:  Gathering the best professionals in the field from different countries, along with having access to a 24 hr workday boosts company productivity. Also, research from Stanford suggests that remote workers were at least as, and sometimes more, efficient than office workers. They tended to take fewer breaks and took less time off.
  • Reducing discrimination and increasing equal opportunities:In a virtual work environment, physically disadvantaged employees can gain more access to the wider workplace than in a physical office. Also, since remote working tends to be productivity-focused as opposed to other attributes, conducting business online creates an environment that promotes greater equality and equity among employees.
  • Reducing impact on the environment:   There is much discussion around the impact of Covid-19 on the environment. While it is not known what long term benefits there may be, if any, there is an agreement that reduced travel and commuting have had a positive short-term impact. Already data from the Sentinel- 5P satellite is showing the nitrogen dioxide levels have plummeted across Europe. A study carried out in China was showing a 25% shrink in carbon emissions and 50% decrease in nitrogen oxides emissions. One earth scientist has predicted that this may have saved at least 77,000 lives over two months.


  • Reduced social and professional connectionIn general, remote working reduces non-verbal communication cues and more easily lends itself to being task and productivity focused. It takes extra effort and skill to make the connections relational or transformative. The 2015 Allen et al review found the key drawbacks to teleworking were social and professional isolation, fewer opportunities for information sharing and a blurring of boundaries between work and personal life.
  • Different attitudes to technology:   2018 research suggests that there are four going on five generations in the workplace, and each has a different technology mindset. Baby Boomers typically get their news from TV, read a book to relax and still post letters. While Generation Z spend an average of five hours a day on their phones, browse their Instagram feeds to unwind and prefer WhatsApp to keep in touch. These differing attitudes are likely to lead to different levels of expertise and knowledge when remote working.
  • Technology gap: It might feel great just getting onto a simple video conference platform and talking, but there is so much more out there to support remote working. There are platforms with higher levels of technological functionality and apps that can boost our productivity and performance, if only we knew about them. In 2017 the Work Foundation found that only 54% of managers believe their organisation is technologically forward-thinking. 
  • Poor operational fit:Remote working may not fit an organisation’s operational environment, or be an appropriate way of being productive for all organisations. For example, workflows that are highly sequential or integrated can pose challenges for virtual team working, as can the production of highly tangible goods and services. It is not a surprise that industries such as manufacturing and hospitality are not well suited to remote working.
  • Does not suit all: Individuals who need stimulation through lots of interaction with other people, or who need external structure to stay on track, are not well suited to remote working. MacRae, & Sawatzky suggest that, compared to non-remote workers, remote workers are more likely to be less competitive, have a higher approach to risk, show greater acceptance of ambiguity,  have higher levels of curiosity, be more conscientious and more able to manage and regulate their own emotions. 
  • Data exfiltration: This is a form of a security breach that occurs when an individual’s or company’s data is copied, transferred, or retrieved from a computer or server without authorisation. Regulation has meant that banking and insurance organisations have been unable to embrace remote working in the same way that other industries have. However, Covid-19 pressures have meant that organisations, such as the FCA, have found new ways to handle some of the data protection and security challenges.

Nick Bloom who carried out the two-year 2017 Sandford study on remote working, was expecting the negatives to balance out the positives and to his surprise concluded that ‘there’s not much to lose and there’s a lot to gain’


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What Does Stress Behaviour Look Like In The Workplace – How Can We Communicate with those who are Stressed?

Stress is known to affect our mental abilities. Exactly how each individual will be affected by stressors will depend on the stressors that a person is experiencing and that person’s mental abilities. 

Our cognitive function encompasses multiple mental abilities such as learning, thinking, reasoning, remembering, problem-solving, decision making and attention. Given the strong evidence that links an individual’s cognitive capacity with job performance, it is essential to understand and overcome how stress impacts our mental abilities.   

While mild levels of stress can have a positive effect on our performance. We know that in general, the impact of high acute or sustained pressure impairs performance. Research has shown that acute stress, such as the stress that many are experiencing at the moment can have a number of effects on our mental abilities.

Effects Of Stress On Our Mental Abilities

Effect Of Stress On Our Behaviours

4 Ways To Communicate With People Experiencing Acute Stress

If you need to share information, make sure you have the bullet points of what needs to be understood upfront. You can always attach the detailed material later.

This will help you challenge people’s ideas so that they can take on new perspectives. Look for evidence to support your point of view. Do check your facts.

Consistent messages: this will help people process the information they need to take on board.

This will help shape people’s thinking based on facts rather than them filling in the gaps with information from less trusted source


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Understand The 3 Responses To Fear In The Workplace And 7 Steps To Help Others Face Their Fear

During the Covid pandemic it was estimated that there were over 2.6 billion people around the world in some kind of lockdown, increasing stress and uncertainty. 

The World Economic Forum reported last year that this increased psychological stress related to a feeling of a lack of control in the face of uncertainty. That overall, as a society, humans are becoming increasingly angry, anxious, unhappy and lonely, while empathy appears to be declining. Given a more recent review in the Lancet, on the impact of isolation, it is likely that our wellbeing in society won’t have improved.

If this is the psychological ‘soup’ that we are working within, what can we do as leaders to help our people and get the best from them? The Psychosocial approach is used to provide support to individuals during times of crisis.    

 What I like about this approach is that it looks at the individual in their social context. I believe it can give us some insights that will help individuals, teams and groups within our organisations.

What Might FIGHT, FLIGHT or FREEZE Look Like in the Workplace?



Emotions Displayed



  • Movement towards the threat to solve the problem
  • Overly competitive
  • Combative
  • Argumentative
  • Demanding special treatment
  • Overly goal/task focused but not socially connected


Insult, Blame, Mistreat


  • Movement away from the threat to avoid the problem
  • Withdrawing
  • Fidgety
  • Difficulty in focusing on what is important
  • Missing meetings
  • Disengaged

Distracted, pensive, apprehensive

Avoid, Omit, Sabotage


    • Stuck
    • Complying
    • Giving a blank look
    • Refusing to make a decision that would help their situation
    • Not answering your questions
    • An attitude of I can’t
    • Possibly sleepy

    Little emotion

    Justify and Rationalise

    7 Steps To Help Others Face Their Fears In The Workplace








    Centre Yourself: There are many ways of doing this. In brief, be aware of your own emotions and responses. Keep your breathing full and deep, as that will help you to keep calm. Plant your feet firmly on the ground and notice their connection to the floor. The aim here is to keep you aware of yourself and not get lost in the intense emotions of the other person.

    Be in the moment: Listen hard to what is said. Without responding emotionally, categorise the fear response. What could be happening for the other person? Could they be fighting, fleeing, freezing or facing their perceived threat?

    Be kind: Understand that this person might be feeling fearful. Respond firmly with any behaviours that cross your boundaries.

    Get curious about the perceived threat: Often, we fear loss, but what exactly is the danger and how is it being recognised? What words are they using? Summarise what you have heard and check that you’ve understood correctly.

    Look for evidence: Find the facts of the situation. Use how, what, why, when, who questions. Then againsummarise what you have heard and check that you’ve understood correctly.

    Explain: that they are unlikely to get what they want if they respond in the way that they are behaving. Explain how you’d like to help them get what they want.  It might be helpful to give a summary of your expertise in a way that creates reassurance.

    Solution Exploration: in your professional capacity, explore with the person how a solution can be found. Allow time for their thinking to unfold. An explorative approach is less likely to get resistance than if you go directly for a result.


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    9 Ways Leaders Can Provide Support And Get The Best From Your Remote Teams During Times Of Greater Psychological Stress

    Humanity has been facing a barrage of challenges. The impact of this is leading to a decline in our psychological and emotional well-being. 

    The World Economic Forum Reported in 2019 that this psychological stress is related to a feeling of a lack of control in the face of uncertainty. That overall, as a society, humans are becoming increasingly angry, anxious, unhappy and lonely, while empathy appears to be declining.  Given a more recent review in the Lancet, on the impact of isolation, it is likely that our wellbeing in society won’t have improved.

    If this is the psychological ‘soup’ that we are working within, what can we do as leaders to help our people and get the best from them? The Psychosocial approach is used to provide support to individuals during times of crisis.    

    What I like about this approach is that it looks at the individual in their social context. I believe it can give us some insights that will help individuals, teams and groups within our organisations . 

    9 Ways We Can Provide Psychosocial Support










    Create Safety – In the workplace, this includes promotion of physical, psychological and financial safety. A sense of security is essential to reduce the biological responses to stress. Do what you can with the resources available to you. Remind people that they are safe in this present moment and all the actions that have been put in place to keep them safe.

    Strengthen and utilise existing resources  – Take stock of what you have in terms of resources, capabilities and capacities. Build on these. Reinforce people’s strengths and what they can do.  Take the time to build stronger relationships with your key clients and suppliers.

    Create calm – It is natural at times like these that you and the people around you will experience a range of emotions. Some people will respond with strong emotions. It is important that you remain calm.

    Keep communicating – Even if there is nothing to report. Regular communication helps people be calm.  Your message should be simple and credibleEnsure that you  acknowledge uncertainty. Tell them; What you know, What you don’t know and What process you are using to get answers.

    Assess needs and problems – Keep an eye on the common themes that are arising in the people around you. Their psychological needs and issues are likely to change over time.

    Identify the people at risk – You will probably know the people in your organisation that are more vulnerable. Where possible sign-post them to support.

    Develop social connectedness – Promote the connectivity of your people within your organisation. Here is a link to some ideas.

    Develop a supportive context – Provide a listening ear, support, and comfort, be sensitive to immediate practical needs. Encourage everyone in your team to do the same.  Here is a link to some ideas.

    Create a better future – Practical hope will give your people something to work towards and help overcome a siege mentality. Once you can, start working towards a better tomorrow, articulate this better future frequently. A Better tomorrow could involve anything from a repositioning of your services to a complete restructure. For some, it could mean an expansion of their offerings.


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    Keeping Remote Team Morale High In Challenging Times: 12 Ideas To Get You Started

    You probably don’t think about it too much, but the day to day interactions you have with the people you work with shape both your and their experience of the working day. If you have a certain number of negative experiences compared to positive experiences, you might conclude that you’ve had a bad day. Then if you experienced the reverse, you would call it a good day. This ratio has a name; it is called the ‘magic ratio!’

    It was coined back in the ’70s by Gottman and Levenson. They used a 5:1 positive to negative ratio to predict with a remarkable 94% accuracy whether 700 newlywed couples would stay together or divorce. Later, highly controversial work led by Fredrickson and Losada found that teams with a positive-negative ratio greater than 3:1 were more productive than workgroups that did not reach this ratio. Tom Rath even wrote a best selling book on this concept discussing the big impact of small interactions.

    Improving Staff Morale

    Faced with a daily barrage of difficult news, what can we do to keep morale high? Now that most of us are working from home, what can we do to create more positive interactions? Here are some ideas to get you started. We have added links below to some free and discounted resources that you might find helpful.

    A. Find Ways to Lighten the Mood






    Do let people off-load if they need to but limit the time on this. If you have someone who needs to talk about the virus or related issues in more depth, then schedule a separate meeting.

    Don’t allow world issues to become the focus of your meetings or discussions when you are trying to get other work done.  

    Do what you can to keep yourself and everyone grounded by pointing out the facts of the situation instead of getting caught up in media hype or conspiracy theories

    Feedback the positive – Look for the positive in whatever you and your team are achieving right now and celebrate that. Look out for positive behaviours and attitudes from your people and share that with them. Encourage everyone in your team to do the same.

    Find the humour in your daily life. Each team will want to do this differently. For some, it might be teasing each other, others it might be sharing work-appropriate jokes or amusing stories about their children or pets

    B. Encourage Exercise and Wellbeing



    Remind everyone to keep exercising – youtube and our phones are bursting with videos/top apps. There is an app out there for everyone to keep you moving around.

    Hold a virtual wellbeing session – Spa product suppliers, such as Temple Spa are getting themselves organised to offer virtual pamper sessions.

    C. Keep Everyone Connected by Organising Virtual Social Events






    Host a quiz.

    Run a virtual book club

    Have pre-theatre drinks and watch some first-rate theatre together

    Hold a virtual lunch get together

    Hold a virtual coffee chat or pub get together


    National Theatre are streaming free full-length plays every Thursday.  One Man, Two Guvnors, streamed last Thursday was a real mood booster.

    A streaming service of a selection of Broadway’s best shows are offering 7 days for free, and $8.99 per month.

    Some free resources to get you and your people fit.

    An online platform to help you create a virtual book club with tips on how to run one.–cwIoBuEA2PQGxnK7cUYaAr6IEALw_wcB

    Jennie Marie at Temple Spa is currently offering virtual pamper sessions for a nominal fee.


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    How Good Is Your Decision Making When Facing The Unknown? Discover Three Strategic Postures for Thriving During Uncertain Times

    There are always winners and losers during times of uncertainty, but overall the economy is negatively impacted, and our society is disadvantaged. Today the stock markets are experiencing the worst performances in over a decade, and in the case of the FTSE, three decades! 

    The fear of uncertainty can have profound consequences on human decision making. Lack of predictability can activate the fear part of our brain, leading to irrational decision making when assessing risk and rewards.  We as individuals make up the economy, so in theory we, as a collective, have the power to change our situation by taking a different approach to uncertainty.

    Colin Camerer, a neuro-economist at Caltech carried out a study comparing two groups of gamblers while recording their brain activity. Both groups were asked to make bets, but the first group knew the odds, whilst the second group did not. In this second group, who were betting but didn’t know the risks, Camerer found that the amygdala, the part of the brain that is associated with fear conditioning, was more active.  

    ‘if we are not aware of our fear,
    then we might not be making the best decisions’

    We know from the work carried out by Kahneman and Tversky over a decade ago, that people, in general, tend to prefer avoiding losses than acquiring equivalent gains. More recently, economists Gneezy et al., carried out an experiment that showed that people can make highly irrational decisions when faced with uncertain odds.

    He found that fearful decision-making can lead to ‘in the future’ rewards appearing less appealing, resulting in a ‘batten down the hatches’ attitude to business. In the business world, this type of decision making can result in a reduction in spending, lack of direction and reduced innovation.

    None of these studies discusses how conscious participants were of their own fear when making decisions. It’s likely though, in response to this pandemic, that if we are not aware of our fear, that we might not be making the best decisions for ourselves, our organisations, clients or our people.

    Three Strategic Postures and For Thriving During Uncertain Times

    Our fear response can be useful as it protects us from danger. However, uncertainty is not a binary concept and ensuring that we are using the appropriate strategy for the level of unknowns we are facing is useful if we want to thrive. A McKinsey paper written on managing uncertainty back in 2000 is well worth an in depth read. Here I’m just going to discuss the three strategic postures they outline to show alternative approaches to managing uncertainty than operating from a position of unconscious fear.

    1 Shapers aim to drive their strategies towards a new structure of their devising, creating their opportunities. During times of uncertainty, they try to control the direction of the market. Fintechs are good example of this approach.
    2 Adapters don’t try to change the structure or its future evolution and instead react to the opportunities that the market offers. During times of higher uncertainty, their strategies are predicated on the ability to recognise and respond quickly to market developments. Organisations that embrace agile thinking fall into this category.
    3 Reserve the right to play is a particular type of adapting and involves making incremental investments today that ensure that the company is in a privileged position tomorrow. Investments might include superior information, cost structures, or relationships between customers and suppliers. These investments then are then leveraged when times are more certain.  For example, pharmaceutical companies regularly make investments into research and development.

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