In present times, teleworking has become a fact of life for many organizations. Employees opt for teleworking options in need of flexibility, and this transforms an organization through improved productivity, less absenteeism, less turnover and greater employee loyalty. In such a context all managers will eventually come across teams with virtual team members. Managing a team of telecommuters is not always simple, however, managers need to accept this concept and find ways to accommodate. This requires a change in mindset from traditional management styles.
Three key areas of focus is elaborated here:
Most managers are resistant towards teleworking due to the perception of lack of control when out of sight. This is indeed an outdated myth. Managers should instead adopt the concept of management by results. Establishing mutually understood and agreed upon clear expectations between team members and managers goes a long way in ensuring better results. Reiteration and consistent follow up on assigned expectations will ensure successful management of teleworkers.
Consistent Communication and Collaboration
The core concept behind teleworking is flexibility as such teleworkers will be available at flexible work locations and flexible working times. Defining and accepting this ‘flexible availability’ between managers, teleworkers and other team members is important. Fostering all channels of communication with the team in both directions, and using a wide array of alternative technology tools such as email, phone, instant messaging, video conferencing, online collaboration tools will ensure this consistent communication and collaboration is maintained.
Culture of Flexibility
As noted earlier; ‘flexibility’ is the cornerstone for teleworking. This needs to be embraced by the organization as a whole. Commitment from managers to accept and support teleworkers is a must. Virtual working requires a different mindset, thus providing suitable training opportunities for teleworkers on adopting telework and also training managers and others on how best to deal with telework will help to make a smoother transition. Managers should always empower their virtual team members and foster a culture of positive motivation. This is important for successfully managing teleworkers (as well as other team members).
As confirmed by many, the success of telework depends on the right mix of management best practices to ensure success in the eyes of the managers, teleworkers themselves and other teammates.