Remote Workers Attaining Interpersonal Skills

Strengthening interpersonal connectivity for remote workers

Interpersonal Connectivity for remote practitioners for TPC is an important skill to develop. In the research article “Interpersonal Connectivity Work: Being there with and for geographically distant others” the authors, Ella Hafermalz and Kai Riemer,  examine the structures of experience and consciousness, and propose that a practitioner can attain skills for job performance regardless of geographic location. They addressed two aspects of connecting with someone who is far away by taking control and being empathic to the client’s needs. Working remotely is possible through technological connectivity and a practitioner of remote communication can skillfully bridge the social aspects of being remote.

Research commonly focuses on different types of technological connectivity, but the authors are focusing on interpersonal connectivity and how it can be achieved. The advantage of this concept of ‘connectivity’ is that the ‘social connection’ can still be made through lean technology. Connectivity skills make it possible for ‘people, groups, and organizations’ to communicate effectively despite their geographic location.

As a remote worker, I would use my innate social skills, professionalism, and personal life experiences, when communicating remotely with others. These skills should be utilized because they are beneficial in developing a connection with others. The authors also point out that interpersonal connectivity ‘face-to-face’ replaced by technology can be mediated from a geographic distance. The authors theorized that skill is involved in ‘what interpersonal connectivity is made of and how it is achieved at a geographic distance.’

After reading the author's research about telenursing and how skillfully the nurses connected with patients over the phone, I found it highlights the effectiveness of telecommunicating. This case study demonstrates the need for ‘interpersonal connectivity’ and the meaning of being ‘present’ geographically. Marcel (1965) stated, “ability to be present with another cannot be explicitly taught nor codified.” Some behaviors can be taught but learning how to be present is a skill embodied from life experiences. Telenursing requires the nurses to use their ‘phone voice’ (using a professional and gentle tone) to build trust with their patients, and ‘visualize’ what was being communicated to them. There is definitively a balance of ‘intimacy and separation, nearness and farness,’ for the nurses to maintain their professional stance. A remote TPC practitioner can also use a phone voice to build trust with their clients and improve their remote skillset. 

Interpersonal connectivity is a skilled balancing act for leaders and workers. It is a skill that constantly requires workers to mediate their communication through geographical distance. Even though technology lacks warmth and care of human interaction and touch, interpersonal connectivity is a valuable skillset to have when working remotely. The authors addressed the need for ‘connectivity journeys, as a tool for coaching and development conversations,’ for workers and managers. This will allow remote workers to strengthen their empathy and manage their awareness so they can be ‘present’ even though they are geographically distant.


Interpersonal Connectivity Work: Being there with and for geographically distant others, by Ella Hafermalz and Kai Riemer

Viewpoint Written by Anjanie R. Fairbairn, Texas State University

Edited by Andi Silva, Texas State University

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