Transport Scotland is sponsoring research into how people who work at home can continue to tap into informal networks that enhance their lives, career opportunities, and the prospects of their organisations.
The project is part of the CivTech challenge run by the Scottish Government’s digital directorate. As project sponsor, Transport Scotland staff will be the first users of any solutions.
Home working has rocketed since Covid-19 and Transport Scotland uses a number of remote working technologies such as Skype and MS Teams.
But the project brief says remote working can create problems. “Working remotely has the potential to contribute to feelings of social isolation and loneliness, particularly when it is required for prolonged periods.
“New starts may find it difficult to identify new opportunities to build experience.
“Middle management may find it difficult to build a large enough network to enable them to get things done.
“And for senior management, it may be difficult to imbue employees with a shared sense of purpose.”
Informal, chance conversations are also less likely to happen. “Informal networks drive the sharing of knowledge, skills, experience, expertise, and ideas,” says the project brief.
“While formal interaction is well catered for in the digital realm through applications that support online meetings and collaboration, a ‘coffee stop’ interaction, a ‘bump’ in the corridor, and an unexpected, serendipitous meeting with someone new are things that are not readily available online.”
The project brief asks, “How can tech drive the vital development of informal networks and the cross-pollination of ideas?
“We are open to a wide range of approaches, which may include ‘virtual’ interaction and/or supporting geographically-based local interactions.”
The project is overseen by Stuart Greig, Transport Scotland’s director for low carbon, and its newly appointed transformation manager, Matthew Eastwood (LTT 10 Jul).
Transport Scotland says remote working offers many potential benefits, including “making swifter progress on climate and air quality through reduced commuting”.
Transport Scotland is also working with the Construction Innovation Centre Scotland, Scottish Futures Trust and the Energy Savings Trust on innovation in, and deployment of, local work hubs “and other office space solutions to enhance workplace choices”.
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