Remote Workers: E-Mail May Be Obsolete for Some Working from Home

By Braden Becker June 15, 2012

If working from home is so awesome, why try so hard to stay connected with coworkers? E-mail’s purpose in the workplace is eroding, and certain remote employees may not be as comfortable as they can be.

Remote working lets staff operate outside the office, saving gas and allowing folks to travel or care for stuff at home while getting a paycheck. New parents are surely the biggest demographic, but the technology has become such a mainstay in a company’s infrastructure; everyone now embraces the opportunity.

But technology developed precisely for these employees is going overlooked by those too used to traditional styles of electronic communication. E-mail, in particular, used to be the message of choice for long, more decisive statements to multiple recipients. The medium is now used well beyond its purpose, and in turn interrupts rhythms in productivity and ignores all the services out there that make the online or cloud-based business as efficient as possible.

Remote workers need to kick the habit.

Remote workers’ tilt toward e-mail is simple: Their relationship with in-house staff feels distant; e-mail has a formal, more isolated feel, and keeps them in touch at the same time.

“But that isolation is a myth,” according to the Wall Street Journal, reciting a study by professors at the University of Wisconsin. On the contrary, “stressful interruptions can make teleworkers feel less attached to their companies,” WSJ reported of Kathryn Fonner’s and Michael Roloff’s research. E-mails are consistent interruptions in work that can otherwise be communicated to the office through innovations in written documents and spreadsheets, as well as live chat tools operable over an intranet or some other unified server.

Google Docs, released by Google in 2007, set a precedent for data templates that are editable and manageable in real time from multiple locations. Tons of companies have since followed suit.

Fonality’s HUD is a chat tool businesses use to dock short-message chat onto one server, accessible by everyone in a designated entity. The platform is the perfect substitute for a one-sentence e-mail that consumes time and screen space remote employees already at a geographical disadvantage need not put up with. 

Not all companies benefit from more unified systems of information, either because their practice doesn’t warrant universal storage or because they don’t have a workforce that requires it. Certain circumstances in working from home, however, are primed for this technology.

E-mail has its purpose in the workplace, but it’s often overused for its short-term convenience. There is a repertoire of services out there that make the telecommuter’s job a world easier.

Edited by Amanda Ciccatelli
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