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Engaged Employees in a Virtual Workforce

Jul 23, 2018

Benefits of working remotely are numerous. In a study by Staples Advantage of more than 1,000 U.S. workers, nearly half said work flexibility is the most important factor they look for in a job. Researchers also have identified “making a difference and contributing to a higher purpose” as an important pathway to employee happiness. At WGU Indiana, employees experience both as they control their schedules to best serve students working to attain degrees and advance their careers. WGU’s remote workforce in the state of Indiana includes nearly 300 full-time employees, including enrollment counselors and managers, instructors, and program mentors.

Becky Feather, an instructor for WGU’s College of Health Professions, appreciates that she doesn’t have to search for or pay for parking and can set her own working hours at her Bloomington-area home office. That flexibility also allows instructors like Feather to adjust their work life around their students’ schedules, translating into individualized support that accommodates students’ needs.

For the right individual, the solitude of working remotely can be a benefit, as well. Debbie Judge, also a instructor in WGU’s College of Health Professions, previously worked in a traditional office and prefers working from home. “I love having my own office and being able to do what I need to do and not be interrupted by other things going on,” she said. At the same time, Judge says she feels very connected with her colleagues and the university. “I have felt more connected working for WGU than I have working anywhere else,” she said.

WGU Indiana offers opportunities for employee engagement with the WGU Indiana team, including an annual holiday party, sponsored sporting events, and other special events throughout the year. The chancellor’s team often travels and hosts student meet-ups in different cities. Employees are invited to attend as well, giving them opportunities for face time with students and alumni.

For WGU Indiana employees, flexibility translates to high employee satisfaction. A recent WGU Indiana employee survey showed nearly 70 percent being very satisfied with working virtually for WGU. Nearly 68 percent said they are very satisfied working in a virtual versus a traditional environment. Respondents identified a flexible schedule, no commute, and fewer distractions as the biggest benefits of their virtual work environment. They cited the biggest challenges as being less face-to-face contact with co-workers and supervisor, outside distractions, and less structure/defined schedule. The state’s online university offers flexibility to both students and its employees.


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