Online learning lecturer is shortlisted for Remote Worker Award

Published: 7 September 2009 at 13:33

‘Green workers’ with innovative remote working strategies are lined up for prizes

Remote working employees and their companies, across the UK, have been short listed in a national awards ceremony and they now stand a chance of winning the Remote Worker Award as well as being recognised and applauded for their remote working strategies.

Shirley Pickford, a lecturer from Anglia Ruskin University, who teaches students on a fully online work-based degree, is among those shortlisted for an award.  Although working for Anglia Ruskin University, with its campuses at Chelmsford and Cambridge, she is based at her home at Oakenholt, Flint in Wales.

HHHAer students are mostly in full-time work, so an online degree is often the only way for them to study. She shares their experiences of distance learning, and helps to create genuine collaboration between people who have never met each other. 

By teaching the BA (Hons) Learning Through Technology degree from Ultraversity, she has become a specialist in online learning communities. No formal qualifications are required to start the degree which is available from Anglia Ruskin’s Faculty of Education, and there are no exams. Assessment is through portfolio, and students may be able to graduate in less than three years if they have previously studied at Higher Education level. The content of the course can be personalised to suit the work context of each student, allowing them to gain maximum benefit from the experience.

Working from home has allowed Shirley to move anywhere without changing her job and to have more flexibility when she needs it providing her with the opportunity for a better work/life balance.

Remote working also means that Shirley can work anywhere with her laptop - this has included motorway service stations, a conference in Manila, working visits to Italy or at friends homes - combining a full time job with opportunities involving travel or fun.

Rather than overcoming adversity, I first moved into remote working because I wanted a change and a challenge after nearly 20 years based in schools as a classroom teacher. Because nobody knows your age online, people often assume that remote workers are young - but along with Her team, we are mostly mature (in age) having held senior positions before deciding that the internet is where we belong.

In theory she believes she should be struggling with the technology. In practice it was a hobby that grew into a job.

Shirley would like to win the award to remind her employer - and other employers - that remote staff contribute to the green agenda, are productive and are only at the end of the phone/email. She believes she communicates more- and better - with her team and her students and can often achieve more.

Her home office is usually a big desk in the living room. Says Shirley,

"It gets untidy, but it is the heart of the house in office hours. If I'm on the road for any reason, the office becomes a laptop and mobile phone. I keep everything in one room, so I can ignore it if I want to, but I like the feeling that I can integrate work with life. I've always worked full time, so I know what it is like when work seems to dominate."

Shirley continues:

"I'm amazed and honoured to reach the shortlist, and delighted for my colleagues and students at Anglia Ruskin University who have all been involved in developing a fully online undergraduate degree course.  We are all involved in using technology to create more opportunities for work, study and leisure."

Remote Employment and BT Business were on a national hunt to find remote working champions who could demonstrate how remote working and home working has made a beneficial impact on their business and home life in The Remote Worker Awards. There are currently 3.5m people working from home.

The Awards appealed to hundreds of budding enterprisers as well as larger home based businesses across the country, and remote workers, home workers as well as freelance consultants.

The Remote Worker Awards will culminate in a winning ceremony at Cliveden House in Berkshire on 10 September.

Award winning website Remote Employment, Google’s No 1 job site for flexible and home based jobs, launched The Remote Worker Awards in association with BT Business to highlight how home working and remote working benefits the British public and their working life.