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The one about Remote Work

Whether it is casual social contact, telemedicine, remote learning, or remote work, we have entered an era where communication will be increasingly visual.

Om Malik (2021)

In this month’s newsletter we explore the rapidly evolving landscape of remote work – a shift facilitated by technology but with implications that cut to the core of how we think about the work we do. The global pandemic served as a catalyst propelling us into the realm of telehealth and virtual care delivery almost overnight. What was initially embraced as an emergency stopgap revealed untapped potential for improving access, convenience, and scaling preventative models of care.

Or did it? It seems that, as soon as we could go back to the old way of doing things, we did. Sure, we’re more comfortable with remote meetings, and maybe there’s more opportunities to work from home. But how much of our core beliefs and attitudes towards remote working have changed?

As we contemplate the implications of remote work, fundamental questions emerge: Are we adequately prepared as a profession? How might a “remote-first” paradigm reshape our understanding of physiotherapy’s essentials? Could this be an opportunity to realign our priorities away from the purely physical? Effective remote work is not simply office work untethered from location. It demands an organisational rewiring – new systems, processes, and skills to optimise this mode of practice.


Gordon, B. (2024). Remote-only physiotherapy. In Beta podcast.

In this episode, we speak to Ben Gordon about the implications of remote-only physiotherapy management, facilitated by technology. Our discussion centres around the shifting dynamics when physiotherapy is conducted virtually rather than in-person, and how this departure from traditional norms might reshape the core tenets of the profession. We explore the affordances of remote practice, such as improved access, convenience, and the potential for preventative care or wellness-based physiotherapy models that could scale more effectively. We examine the constraints imposed by remote-only practice as potential catalysts for refocusing physiotherapy on its essence, emphasising software supported decision-making, behavioural change, and the art of asking insightful questions to align with patients’ goals. This realignment disrupts conventional perceptions of “practice” and challenges the profession’s overemphasis on the purely physical aspects of the interaction. And we consider our readiness to adapt to these technological advancements and the implications for professional regulation, which has traditionally been conservative in embracing change.

See also: Chew, J. & Gilbert, A. (2020). Remote consultations. Physio Matters podcast.


Fried, J., & Hansson, D. H. (2013). Remote: Office Not Required. Currency.

For too long our lives have been dominated by the ‘under one roof’ Industrial Revolution model of work. That era is now over. As remote working is becoming increasingly more flexible, there is no longer a reason for the daily roll call, of the need to be seen with your butt on your seat in the office. The technology and necessity to work remotely and to avoid the daily grind of commuting and meetings has finally come of age.

I read this book before the Covid-19 pandemic, when I took over as the departmental chair of physiotherapy. One of my goals was to create a more flexible working environment that enabled staff to work effectively, whether at home, on campus, or on a beach.

For me, the most important message of the book is that ‘remote work’ is not ‘office work minus the office’. In other words, you can’t simply tell staff that they can now work from home and expect them to do the same stuff. We have decades of experience setting up systems and processes to support office work, and almost none of that to support working at home.

In order for remote work to be effective, it’s not enough for individuals to change their working habits; organisations also have to change.


Lund, S., Madgavkar, A., Manyika, J., & Smit, S. (2020, November 19). What’s next for remote work: An analysis of 2,000 tasks, 800 jobs, and nine countries. McKinsey & Company.

To what extent will remote work persist? In this article, we assess the possibility for various work activities to be performed remotely. Our analysis finds that the potential for remote work is highly concentrated among highly skilled, highly educated workers in a handful of industries, occupations, and geographies. More than 20 percent of the workforce could work remotely three to five days a week as effectively as they could if working from an office. If remote work took hold at that level, that would mean three to four times as many people working from home than before the pandemic and would have a profound impact on urban economies, transportation, and consumer spending, among other things.

Interestingly, the report suggests that only 8-12% of activities related to ‘assisting and caring for others’ can be done remotely.

However, the report also lists the following activities as having high potential for remote performance: updating knowledge and learning (82-91%), thinking creatively (43-68%), communicating with and guiding colleagues and clients (43-63%), and processing, analysing, and interpreting information (54-61%). There are other activities that I’d argue are core to practice, which also have relatively high potential for being done remotely.

In this, as in other areas, a lot depends on what you think the core activities of your practice are.

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