Remote workers are typically knowledge workers who work from home using ICT to coordinate and collaborate with their colleagues, clients and managers. While remote working has many advocates, it also has critics. A frequent concern is that remote workers will experience social isolation. In this case study we focus on what tele-health nurses who work from home do to overcome this issue. We draw on Goffman’s (1959) theatre metaphor, in particular his four types of “communication out of character” as our theoretical lens for analysing interview data. We demonstrate that the ways in which nurses communicate with each other using ICTs corresponds with the ways in which stage performers use these forms of surreptitious communication to discuss and execute a performance. By further developing the “communication out of character” framework we derive a theory of how remote workers actively maintain belonging though technology. We show that what might look like peripheral, virtual “water cooler chat” actually builds belonging within the team, which in turn becomes a resource for the team’s skilful performance of work itself. We contribute to Positive Organizational Scholarship in that we show how important functions of belonging in remote work can be facilitated with technology.
Hafermalz, Ella and Riemer, Kai, "THE WORK OF BELONGING THROUGH TECHNOLOGY IN REMOTE WORK: A CASE STUDY IN TELE-NURSING" (2016). Research Papers. 106.