Will remote-first impact and benefit expert Field Engineering?

man working remote-first from home at laptop

Field Engineers work on their own and in the field for the majority of their time. Some spend the rest of their working time in an office – for example at the beginning or end of the day or week. Some carry out all admin and other tasks from home. This article focuses on how remote-first will impact and benefit field engineering.

The Pluses And Minuses Of Remote-first In Field Engineering

What is remote first?

What is remote-first?
Remote-first is an organisational strategy that makes working remotely the primary option for most or all employees. It is a very different strategy from giving all employees the option to work from home for all or some of the time. It means that whether you work in the office or at home, you should have the same opportunities for promotion, decision making, and other opportunities.
There is a key difference between remote or ‘remote friendly’ and ‘remote-first’.
Remote working being available means just that – for some employees there is the option to work from home all or some of the time.
Remote-first is much more definite in terms of the organisation and its policy. It describes an organisation which operates with a distributed team and has the potential to be fully remote.

Who does remote-first suit?

Who does it suit? In many ways some of the qualities needed for successful remote working are the same as those needed by a field engineer:
Good time management
Ability to troubleshoot

woman exercising at home with laptop - the benefits of remote-first

What are the advantages of a remote-first policy?
More productivity
Better work life balance/increased employee satisfaction/
Fitness can improve as time to exercise rather than commuting
Reduced travel and so greener footprint for organisation
Global talent pool
Access to those who want to work remotely and wouldn’t consider commuting/relocating
Team trust is built early as it is essential
Minimal office space needed

man exercising at home with a dog

What are the disadvantages of a remote-first policy and how can the rest of the organisation learn from the field team?
No sense of team or belonging
Don’t boost each other’s energy which often happens in an office
Not in touch with what is going on – only the major decisions
Time differences can impact

No direct supervision so trust needs to be strong
Learning is all direct not organic
Some things can take longer as everything has to be communicated – not just called across the office
Internet speeds can be slow
Low team spirit or identity
Legal and health and safety compliance
Takes time to build a remote team
How can you form bonds with colleagues and is there synergy in the same way?
What about people who have just joined?
What about people at the start of their career – all learning will be formal – no ‘why don’t you join this meeting’ or ‘come and listen in on this’
No in person social interaction

Will remote-first help field engineers?

Will a policy of remote-first help field engineers?
Field operations have always been at least partly remote. What is the impact going to be if the whole organisation moves to a remote-first model?
Will other colleagues more easily understand their isolation? Will there be more inclusion for them?

Further reading

Working remotely as a Global Instrument Support Engineer
Managing a field support team

Working from home and hybrid working
Homeworking guidance
Tips from Mind staff

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