Leading Teleworkers

I have worked with many organization’s to assist its leaders to manage the rise of teleworkers – those that are able to work at home and in the office.  For many of us, this would appear as the norm expectation for what we perceive as being “work” nowadays. But this is not universal.

I travel to many countries and visit many different types of organizations and observe many companies that do not want to do this and choose to have their employees all working in one location.

Teleworking if great if you want to do this.  But again this not universal.  Some find that working out at home is not entirely beneficial…

  • The lack of office gossip
  • No access to the coffee moments
  • No office meetings to break up the work conveyor belt
  • The blurring of lines between where is work and home life (especially for those that are working during school vacation time)

Others, of course, relish the benefits of working at home, and balancing the needs of work and home life and cutting out the wasted commute time.

Say you are a leader in an organization how do you lead a team of individuals who may be at home or in the office?  I am now coming across organizations where managers never have the luxury of getting the team together in one place at the same time.  How do you manage in these constructs?  Here is some advice to consider:

  • list-1030596_1280Set the ground rules.  We have them (implicit and explicit) when we are in the office so these should also exist when we are away from the office.
  • Touch base with the team, both individually and collectively often.  When a team is remote (operating at a distance using communications tools) then generally we need more not less communication.  From a leader’s perspective, has this been built-in?  If you do not make time, then it may not happen.
  • Be proactive in your use of communication tools.  Consider the message and then select the appropriate tool.  Often we pick a tool that is often closest to hand.  We have great tools but do we all know they exist and more importantly, are we even trained in using the tools?  I worked recently with a company where they all used social media tools (Twitter, Snapchat, Whatsapp etc) – but crucially they used these tools outside of the office and not inside the working environment.
    • I am also finding that training in using the communication tools is not offered by either the IT or the HR section, so it falls between the cracks.  If individuals are not trained in using a tool, they will not use it.
  • Make sure you trust your employees. Strange as it sounds, if there is no trust when the employee(s) and the manager are in the office, then it is unlikely to occur when the team members are separated from one another.
  • Build in the small talk.  It is part of life when we work together so it does not disappear when we are apart.
  • Working from home may not suit everyone, so keep in touch to find out how they are getting on, what issues they face and whether they may need to come back to the office (I am meeting more and more individuals who would rather go to an office then work from home).
  • Focus on building relationships and then maintaining these relationships, not just between the manager and the employee, but also between each team member.  We work well with others when we have built this foundation.



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