When Remote Work Promotes Democracy in the Workplace

Aug 21, 2023
When Remote Work Promotes Democracy in the Workplace

Remote work has quickly evolved from a supplemental option to a major game-changer in the workplace. 

It is true to such an extent that according to Prithwiraj Choudhury, a professor at Harvard Business School, there is no doubt about it: “In ten years, offices will be used for one thing and one thing only: having a good time with colleagues. Remote work will no longer be called telecommuting, but simply work”.  

The transformations to be expected within companies are massive. To what extent? Can remote labor genuinely increase corporate democracy? 

Goodbye to the Old Hierarch

Do you remember when working from home was unusual? But we now live in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote jobs are much more common. And beyond the comfort of skipping commutes, working remotely presents an opportunity to challenge the established order.

The real shocker is that the traditional hierarchy is being slowly but certainly destroyed by remote work. The usual line of command becomes a little hazy when we're dispersed and not confined to an actual office. Suddenly, speaking with superiors is commonplace. Titles are less important in virtual meetings and online discussions as ideas take center stage.

Thanks to remote working, everyone, regardless of status, is invited to contribute and express their opinions. It feels fairly liberating to be able to express your ideas without being constrained by office politics or your position on the corporate ladder. No matter what our positions are or where we are located, it seems as though we are all competing on an even playing field.

Democracy Brings out the best ideas

Working remotely involves more than simply your location; it also involves your communication style. Online meetings, tools for team collaboration, and shared virtual spaces are now commonplace. They function similarly to our new office water cooler chats, allowing participants from all around the world to engage in conversations regardless of time zone.

In this isolated realm, what you say matters more than who speaks the loudest. Traditional gatherings with a monopoly of a few speakers are going extinct. Input from all parties is now valued, and the best ideas prevail. This new brainstorming process improves the democratic culture that is emerging in firms and results in more well-rounded decisions.

Assuming Your Position

Working from home gives you more freedom than just leaving your desk; it also gives you more control over your job. You're more likely to feel inspired and complete tasks if you have the freedom to organize your time and workspace. Your sense of responsibility for the company's success grows as a result of your newly acquired empowerment, increasing your level of involvement.

But it goes further than that. You are encouraged to stretch yourself while working remotely. You might discover that you work with coworkers from different departments more frequently. This broadens your understanding of how the business runs and allows you to contribute ideas outside of your usual zone of influence. The sense of belonging to something greater fuels the democratic atmosphere in the workplace.

Communicate effectively 

Of course, there are downsides to democracy when it comes to remote labor. It takes work to maintain a sense of camaraderie when you are separated by great distances. Although virtual coffee breaks and water cooler conversations are excellent, they can't completely replace those unplanned workplace encounters that strengthen team relationships.

For instance, when there is no face-to-face communication, miscommunications are easily introduced. Getting everyone on the same page while negotiating many time zones can be difficult. 

That is why companies must spend on training to ensure that everyone, regardless of location, can communicate effectively in order for remote work to encourage democracy.

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