I had a chance to research multi-locational work and distance learning as part of my master’s degree thesis for research Identifying multi-locational work and distance learning capabilities in the team. Several studies show that multi-locational work is getting more appealing and has been made possible by cloud computing and advanced collaboration tools. It has also increased the need for re-visiting contracts, office rules, processes as well as ways of working.
Increased distance learning could be seen as a by-product of multi-locational work. Despite increased popularity, multi-locational work or distance learning are often not the default option within European companies.
To begin, let’s clarify what these terms mean:
Multi-locational work implies that people work wherever it suits them best – schedule-wise or other. Multi-location also covers remote work.
Distance learning, also called distance education, e-learning, and online learning, is a form of education in which the main elements include physical separation of teachers and students during instruction. The use of various technologies to facilitate student-teacher and student-student communication is a crucial part of distance learning.
Main reasons multi-locational work is failing
During my research, I was able to clarify key aspects that influence and, in its worst, wrecks successful multi-locational work and distance learning:
- Not being able to identify and understand individual competences.
- Badly communicated roles and expectations
- Companies’ existing culture on multi-locational role and distance learning
- Characteristics of multi-locational leadership
- Company culture transformation to agile management
Research showed that a general mindset towards distance learning and multi-locational work is accepting and adapting. Multi-locational work is still far from default. You can find surprisingly many occasions where internal systems or services can’t be accessed remotely. Other situations reveal security is not up to par for remote access. Best practices are rarely written down, and contracts don’t specify what, how, and when employees are required to learn and how the learning outcomes are measured and followed.
What can you do?
If you’re searching for a new job, you can start with the checklist for more successful multi-locational work and distance learning:
- Get to know the type of person you are
- Discuss with yourself and try to identify if your motivators and working style are suitable for multi-locational work and distance learning
- Ask what the requirements and assumptions are on developing your skillset
- Ask what kind of management culture the company has and how they manage multi-locational teams
- Ask if IT infrastructure is set, and it enables multi-locational to work securely
- Ask about the rules, practices, and ways of working, even the hidden ones.
I’m happy to tell you more about the findings and practices developed based on my thesis.