More than 50 percent of the global workforce operates remotely—or “telecommutes”—during at least half of the week.1 And even the vast majority of those who work onsite tend to job-related emails and other digital communication before 9 a.m. and after 6 p.m. on a regular basis.2 Digital business communication continues to grow in ubiquity in the U.S. and abroad, and it has the potential to positively impact employee productivity, company profits and even environmental health.3 But it also suggests that today’s professionals must be highly adept at collaborating and presenting remotely, engaging a diverse global audience, and managing both their time and task tables.
Fortunately, in a top online MBA program like the one at California State University, Monterey Bay, you can begin building these very skills while simultaneously earning a graduate degree and facilitating future career opportunities.
Take a look at how online learning can prepare you for effective telecommuting, and hear from CSUMB’s 2018 Outstanding MBA Graduate Patrick Recinto about the unique benefits of the online program.
Master the Tools to Maximize Digital Engagement
Whether it’s your online MBA program or your full-time job (or both) that has you working from home, you’ll need to be fluent with some common tools for digital engagement. Depending on if communication is written, verbal or conducted across a variety of multimedia, you’ll need to think about how your message will be received in context and consider whether you should adjust your self-presentation at all to best suit your chosen format.
For instance, when using Zoom, which is a common application for video calls and conferences, you must remember to take into account standard conversational social cues. Similarly, if you’re on a phone or Skype call without video capabilities, keep in mind that your audience will be more acutely aware of your tone—which means you should be, too. And when communicating via a digital discussion board, such as those used in the CSUMB learning management system, you’ll need to be aware of the tone and attitude that others may infer from your written messages.
For Online MBA Graduate Patrick Recinto, earning an MBA online was the ideal opportunity to build the digital communication skills and abilities he’d need to eventually run his own business. What’s more, he found that the digital approach to collaboration was ideal for maximizing every exchange with his peers.
“I liked how the classes were broken up into cohorts, which allowed us to collaborate and learn from each other throughout the entirety of the program,” he said, adding that “the cohort size was just the right size for strong yet sufficient discussion.”
This presents another key benefit of digital communication, particularly in written form. In an online classroom setting it allows students to focus intensely on course content just as it enables people in the workplace to zero in on the important task at hand. And electronic exchanges—via chat, email, discussion board or text thread—can help give voice to those who might otherwise stay silent in the back of a classroom or conference room, which means that discussions are enhanced by additional perspectives and insight.
Gain a Global Perspective
“I was actually surprised at the diversity not only in my cohort but also in the professors,” said Recinto, who notes that his peers resided in different parts of the country and offered a variety of professional interests and skill sets. “Most, if not all of them, had extensive work experience, and I was able to learn from that.”
Because online programs can accommodate students from any geographic location, they are more likely to attract a diverse student body that represents a variety of industries, roles, schedules and cultural contexts. These characteristics impact how individual students understand and interpret their coursework, and when diverse views are expressed in class, they can expand the perspective of others in the same cohort. And even if this experience does not reshape students’ personal opinions, it can help them learn how to engage with work peers and superiors who present differing views.
Acknowledging the opportunities that are inherent to working with a professionally, geographically and culturally diverse cohort, Recinto encourages online MBA students to foster professional relationships with their peers, no matter their location.
“Share your own experiences and knowledge, and also be open to what others have to say so that you may learn from their experiences as well.”
Accommodate Your Schedule and Refine Your Time-Management Skills
Those who have already ventured into telecommuting likely know that it can present a huge advantage when trying to accommodate your personal life and schedule. Flexibility in when and where you work can make it easier to travel, tend to personal appointments, and meet with friends or family. But it also demands that you be disciplined in managing and protecting your time: You must both organize your work hours in a way that ensures you’re able to complete tasks as needed and take care to ensure that a mobile office doesn’t impose on your personal time.
Earning an MBA online can help you master these skills, too. Courses are generally pre-recorded or provided in a static presentation format, so they can be accessed when and where it’s most convenient for you. Of course, you’re still responsible for managing your time in a way that ensures you can complete all assignments, but there is flexibility enough to accommodate both a full-time job and personal pursuits.
“I worked in the evening, from 4:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., and I was able to do my schoolwork during the day,” said Recinto. “If there were meetings that had to take place in the evenings, then I would coordinate with my boss to take an extended break on certain days. Each week had specific due dates for certain assignments and participation requirements, and this allowed me to plan my weeks accordingly.”
The result? “I was able to improve my time-management skills and find ways to develop a suitable work-life balance.”
Prepare for Digital Success With Online Learning
Make sure you’re prepared to lead business in the digital era, whether you’re onsite in a corporate high-rise or appearing remotely in a Zoom conference. To help you get there, explore the Online MBA program from CSUMB: With a digital learning management system that invites you to engage peers and professors from anywhere in the world and guides you in balancing graduate study with your career and personal life, you can set yourself up for professional success all while earning your degree.
1. Retrieved on September 19, 2018, from cnbc.com/2018/05/30/70-percent-of-people-globally-work-remotely-at-least-once-a-week-iwg-study.html
2. Retrieved on September 19, 2018, from shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/study-reveals-most-check-work-e-mail-at-home.aspx
3. Retrieved on September 19, 2018, from forbes.com/sites/andrealoubier/2017/07/20/benefits-of-telecommuting-for-the-future-of-work