Seven actions of effective remote managers

More and more companies and organisations are taking advantage of the benefits that flexible working and particularly remote working offers. There can be particular challenges for the manager of a remote team, however. Here are some of the best practice activities we’ve identified from our own and others’ experiences:

  1. Analyse the jobs that can be worked or part worked remotely: many tasks are neither time-limited nor need to be done in a particular location. Most jobs have at least some tasks which can be carried out in any location at a time that suits both worker and customer.
  2. Identify workers’ particular needs for flexible and remote working and meet them: could it support childcare needs by allowing a parent to be around for the school run? Will saving a day’s commute provide staff with more quality time for family and leisure?
  3. Foster positive attitudes to remote working and remote workers. Telecommuting is sometimes seen as an “easy option”: all team members can be included in planning the way the team works so they understand the background to remote working, and preferably can take advantage of it if they wish.
  4. Keep in touch, keep information flowing explicitly. Remote workers need to know what’s going on and exchanging information casually at the water cooler or over lunch is not adequate for a part or completely distance team.
  5. Make sure the technology is simple to use and reliable: cloud computing and web 2.0 can come to your aid here. Choose the technology carefully – it needn’t be expensive especially for a small company.
  6. Avoid isolation by creating a virtual team community space: use Yammer or Skype or a social network or online forum to have everyone permanently connected, train everyone in its use till its second nature to communicate online first.
  7. Manage by results not by hours worked. Avoid micromanagement. Break down tasks and make workers accountable for delivering a project or part of one. Provide training in how to manage time and workflow if necessary.

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