9 February 2021

Research pick: Working in the time of Covid - "Remote working in the time of covid-19: developing a web-based community"

The Inderscience Research Picks this week will focus on how online resources are helping people cope in different ways with the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Each day, we will highlight and discuss a paper from the publication the International Journal of Web-based Communities (Issue 1, volume 17, 2021)

Martin Sposato of Zayed University in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, has investigated the potential of online communities for the implementation of remote working under enforced lockdown as experienced in many countries during the Covid-19 pandemic. The main challenges are the implementation of suitable technology for workers, the maintenance of an appropriate routine for continuity, and the development of a sense of community among workers no longer able to meet face to face or chat over the proverbial watercooler.

In the face of the various challenges, employers and managers have a responsibility to ensure that staff output and productivity are not compromised and that they can sustain the quality of the work being undertaken.

Sposato points out that the unprecedented challenge of the global pandemic has led to the adoption of technologies and practices that were previously only used to any great degree by a proportion of the workforce, tools such as video conferencing. Now, almost everyone who is able and has perhaps been forced to work from home, maybe for the first time has had to become familiar and adept at using rather quickly a range of tools that may not have been part of their normal daily work before.

Remote working, Sposato explains, is changing the employment landscape significantly. Indeed, in some areas of employment, it has become increasingly obvious that the daily commute need no longer be a part of the routine and a large proportion of many types of work can be done without staff ever needing to set foot in their employer’s premises. Moreover, there is even an indication for some forms of business maintaining premises may not even be necessary.

Once we emerge from the current crisis situation at some point in the future, the new normal may look very different from the old normal for workers everywhere. Sposato suggest that there is a pressing need to develop web-based community that could increase the effectiveness of remote working and create systems that foster engagement among members of those communities. Work is in a state of flux while the pandemic is ongoing, both employers and employees need to take stock and those with the abilities need to plot our route through the pandemic to that new working normal.

Sposato, M. (2021) ‘Remote working in the time of covid-19: developing a web-based community’, Int. J. Web Based Communities, Vol. 17, No. 1, pp.1–8.

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