In the mysterious ways that these things happen (I’m guessing the cause was my clicking a link on a business newsletter I subscribe to), I recently received an email from an intriguingly named organization, The Future of Work Institute. This is a group of “HR, IT, and Facilities/Real Estate leaders and other professionals who seek new solutions to the challenges of attracting, retaining, and leveraging knowledge workers” (www.thefutureofwork.net).
Their website’s “Resources” links offers a wealth of information in the form of white papers, articles, and case studies. You can use these materials to enhance your business communication courses in a variety of ways.
For example, I accessed a white paper entitled Managing a Remote Workforce: Proven Practices from Successful Leaders (researched and written by two professionals from The Word Design Collaborative, LLC). This relatively lengthy report provides extensive advice on planning, justifying, implementing, and improving the management of remote employees.
An immediate use of this document that springs to mind is as an example of a well-researched, well-written, readably formatted report. Students can discuss ways the authors make the report clear, interesting, creditable, and skimmable. They can also see how to integrate sources gracefully into their documents and use conveniently located footnote citations.
But you could use the contents of the report in a variety of ways, too. I often ask my students to summarize a business report or article as the first step in a research project, and this white paper would be perfect for such an assignment because it provides an excellent overview of an important current workplace issue. Students can then find additional materials to complete a report assignment on a subtopic raised by the white paper, such as . . .
- the advantages and disadvantages of having remote employees,
- the best ways to manage such employees,
- common mistakes to avoid when managing remote employees,
- the effective use of communication technologies to enable remote management and collaboration,
- . . . you get the idea.
You can also use such resources to create problem-solving cases for shorter messages, such as operational communications, internal proposals, and short reports.
Nothing impresses and convinces our students like real-world examples. Sometimes, unfortunately, good examples are hard to find. Not so at The Future of Work’s website. Check out their expertly prepared materials–and share the names of other websites you know of that offer rich, useful material for our classes.