Page 179 - WHERE WE WORK - Schlegelmilch
P. 179

General discussion
While many workers are able to continue working when transforming to remote work because digital technology enables planned interactions, there is one key shortcoming that needs to be addressed: the lack of chance encounters. What research and practice have shown for years is that the closer people are to each other geographically, the more likely they are to bump into each other. Though chance encounters may not seem important for work, they are actually crucial for people to maintain relationships beyond one’s close collaborators. Some business leaders have even incorporated the potential for chance encounters in the architecture of their buildings, such as Apple (Magnolfi, 2017). And Bernstein et al. (2020, p. 5) found that “after the lockdown, employees increased their communication with close collaborators by 40% but at a cost of 10% less communication with other colleagues”.
I suggest two ways of addressing this shortcoming and enabling chance encounters when working remotely: using technology and using, yes, physical locations. For one, a way to arrange chance encounters and allow workers to remain remote is to use technology. One example is an application called ‘Donut’, which pairs coworkers randomly to have a virtual coffee. Similar to real life you can also choose to avoid people and snooze the pairings for when you are busy. Alternatively, having an open coffee call at the same time every week may also provide the ‘room’ to encounter coworkers. Second, another way of fostering weak ties during remote work is to deliberately get together. For example, several fully remote companies (e.g., Buffer) go on company retreats or day trips to bring coworkers together. And lastly, a combination of using technology and getting together deliberately may also offer a valuable combination.
5.5 Concluding remarks
I started this doctoral dissertation by highlighting the variety of digital work settings and I proposed to take a spatiality lens based on remoteness and mobility. In order to understand what implications the physical place has for digital workers, I conducted three empirical studies.

   177   178   179   180   181