Many companies believe that one of the biggest challenges they face when implementing a virtual office is managing mobile or remote workers. It’s unfortunate that they let that perception prevent them from reaping the many benefits of a more flexible workspace.
Remote management is not fundamentally different from managing people on site. The biggest difference is a shift in management style from “eyeball management” (assuming people are productive because you can see them physically working at their desks) to management by results.
By learning to manage by results rather than activity, improving communication and increasing trust between managers and employees, the entire organization benefits. In fact, virtual team managers have reported that their overall management skills have improved for both on-site and remote workers.
There are 4 master keys to managing remote workers. These distance management tips will help you collaborate more effectively with your mobile workers and virtual teams.
Basics of managing remote or mobile workers
- Management by results, not by activity
- Improving communication to stay connected
- Dealing with meetings and schedules
- feedback and support
MANAGEMENT BY RESULTS, NOT ACTIVITY
One of the most common fears managers and executives have when considering virtual teams is “How do I know my employees are going to work if I’m not there to watch them?” Well, the simple answer is you won’t, not any minute. But realistically, you can’t be sure that they’re actually working every minute just by seeing them in the office; It’s easy to confuse activity with productivity.
A manager’s job is to provide the remote worker with specific, measurable, and achievable goals so he or she knows what to do and when. This may include reports completed, the number of calls made, and the number of support issues resolved—or any other appropriate worker productivity metrics.
It is important that employees and managers come to a common definition of deliverables and timeline. This ensures everyone is on the “same page” and prevents misunderstandings. It also ensures that goals and expectations are realistic.
A manager’s value to an organization is more of a coach and mentor, not an overseer. This move away from “eyeball management” and the resulting clearer definition of employee responsibilities is one of the key drivers of the improved productivity that typically occurs with virtual teams.
When you shift your focus to performance-based management, you can build a more productive mobile workforce.
IMPROVE COMMUNICATION (STAY CONNECTED)
Effective communication is one of the most important elements for a successful virtual team. This is an area of remote work that technology is making very easy. There are a variety of tools available to help employees stay connected and collaborate.
The most obvious way to facilitate communication with remote workers is through defined working hours. By clearly defining the times employees need to be available, you can avoid common points of confusion and ensure timely communication. However, recognize that there is a balance between contact and harassment. This balance must be developed over time.
When remote workers aren’t immediately available or communication isn’t in “real time,” another area that can cause challenges is communication timeliness. Onsite managers and employees are often concerned about not being able to connect with remote workers when needed.
A simple but often overlooked solution to this problem is to create a set schedule for checking and replying to voice messages and emails. This can be hourly, twice daily, or whatever is appropriate for your situation. This schedule, along with an expected response time, gives everyone peace of mind that their messages are being received and a response is imminent.
There are also a variety of practices managers can implement that help remote employees stay “connected” and still feel part of the gang in the office. This includes regularly scheduled phone calls, including virtual team members at impromptu lunches and other social events, and relaying more informal information, memos, and FYI items to them.
HANDLING MEETINGS AND SCHEDULES
Meetings serve a variety of important purposes for any organization or team project, including sharing information to stay abreast of developments, make decisions, report on progress, brainstorm, and explore ideas, plans, and alternatives.
Keeping track of everyone’s schedule and including remote workers in meetings can seem daunting for an organization exploring virtual teamwork. With creative time management and the right use of technology and tools, these can become non-problems.
There are web-based groupware and virtual office platforms, as well as dedicated software solutions that manage group schedules and shared calendars. These allow both on-site and off-site employees to access up-to-date schedules and up-to-date information on last-minute appointment changes.
An important takeaway is that not all meetings have to be face-to-face. When used properly, remote workers can use a combination of conference calls, video conferencing, web conferencing, and groupware to attend meetings and attend presentations in real time without additional travel costs or time. You can also use these tools to include remote workers in important ad hoc meetings.
For times when face-to-face communication is preferable or necessary, schedule meetings where mobile workers and virtual team members are in the office. A simple approach is to schedule consistent meetings, e.g. E.g. a staff meeting on the 2nd Tuesday of every month or a team meeting every Friday. This kind of regularity makes scheduling meetings easier.
FEEDBACK AND SUPPORT
An important but fundamental management technique that is often neglected is to provide continuous feedback and support to employees. Many employees – at all levels of the organization – feel that they do not get enough feedback on their performance from their managers. This type of ongoing discussion is gaining importance in virtual teams.
Regular meetings should be scheduled between managers and remote workers to identify needs, provide feedback, and discuss issues. These are excellent opportunities to agree on the scope of work to be done, schedules and deadlines.
Another key way to improve relationships with remote or mobile workers is to engage them in feedback and praise. Many managers and leaders give feedback and praise to their employees in very informal ways, often when they see those colleagues or employees in the office. Remote workers don’t have as many opportunities to meet the boss or a manager, so some extra effort is required to keep them in the loop.
That doesn’t mean a lot of extra work, just more presence of mind. Even using simple, quick ways to let employees know how they’re doing—like a quick voice message or email, or a quick note in the margin of a report or memo—helps employees stay motivated and focused.
Also, don’t forget to occasionally pat on the back publicly, like at a staff meeting. This gives onsite employees peace of mind that remote workers are carrying their burden and can minimize potential onsite employee resentment towards virtual team members and their work arrangement.
Fear of the challenges associated with managing virtual teams and connecting them are two of the most common obstacles companies face. This often prevents them from taking advantage of the power and flexibility of a more mobile workforce.
Don’t let these fears arise your Path. The necessary leadership techniques and strategies are not new, but the same things that good managers have been doing for years to build trust and clear communication within their team. With the guidelines I’ve shared with you in these four key areas, you can work effectively from anywhere and keep your team connected!
Thanks to Philip Montero | #Art #Virtual #Leadership #Keys #Leading #Remote #Workers #Managing #Virtual #Teams