Managers of home workers - vital skills

Discussion in 'Productivity and Motivation' started by matthewp, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. matthewp

    matthewp New Member

    Managers of home workers - vital skills

    I've had a good look around the forum and wanted to start a discussion with a slightly different slant than most of the other threads on here. There's lots (and lots and lots) of great advice on how to work from home effectively, but what about the managers of home workers, and the skills they need to make this a success? I think this is important, both as a topic itself and also for helping aspiring telecommuters gain an understanding of what managers are looking for in remote workers.

    Sometimes remote working isn't a choice ??“ I work for a company that runs IT projects and we often have teams spread across the globe, with team members in multiple time zones. This introduces a number of different management challenges to the conventional office environment, and people need to be equipped with how to deal with it. Generally speaking managers who manage by results rather than hours worked tend to be more effective. These people can certainly transition from a normal work environment to a remote workforce more easily. For some this isn't an innate skill, and is something that needs to be learned if remote working is to be a success (and it shouldn't be assumed that they will just cope).

    I've worked remotely (very remote ??“ 12,000 miles or so) for three years. To get the ball rolling here are my 'big three' factors for managing people who aren't there:

    1) Work out how you are going to manage your staff (what information do you need to monitor output / results etc), and agree it with them.
    2) Prioritise communication ??“ you may not need to if you sit opposite them, but if they aren't there (or working 12,000 miles way!) you need to be on the money with how you exchange information.
    3) Trust ??“whether you like it or not remote working environments require high trust relationships. Trust your staff ??“ make sure they know they are trusted (this actually helps keen them on the straight and narrow) ??“ and manage accordingly.

    So ??“ what do other people think is important in the manager / homeworker relationship? What works for you, what doesn't?


  2. Spartacus

    Spartacus New Member

    Well Matt

    I have just joined the forum and I read your post which I found extremely interesting and just what I would be looking to discuss in such a setting and, to my surprise I am the only one replying... Possibly, the reason for my interest is that I found many similarities between the situation you describe an mine. I have been working for the past 5 years in a commercial/ sales role for a company that is located on the other side of the globe. I'm in the UK whilst the "mother ship" is in NZ and I have no colleagues in my hemisphere and report to a manager in NZ. Issues around management of remote work such as assessment and evaluation are what fascinates me - to the point that I have focused on that topic for my MSc dissertation. Essentially, I am planning to delve into the framework of the virtual office (or whatever we want to call it) to analyze what the keys are to understand better what works and what doesn't, why and why not. My plan is to use some of the material that emerges from these discussions as food for thought for my dissertation. After the long preamble, I suppose I agree with your view that the the key to making a long-distance manager-employee relationship is trust. The other key is backup. Make sure that the remote worker has a counterpart within the office that can be their hands, eyes and ears and replies to their emails on the spot. There is nothing worse than sending emails and going to sleep expecting a reply for a customer and never getting the reply. The worst part of working at home, and the biggest danger that could lead to burnout, is loneliness. As a manager you can't really do a lot, except keeping in touch with a call to just have a chat or an SMS - however, what you can probably do is recognize the people that will cope with it better than others. People who don't mind traveling alone, with a higher sense of self-awareness, who are socially savvy and a good sense of humor (which always helps) will likely do better - that's really just my opinion.
    Anyway, back to work gotta finish a thing or two.

  3. ZriiProsper

    ZriiProsper New Member

    Great post, I'm interested in hearing more about building the trust with remote workers. Especially from the hiring phase. I just posted about my possible expansion into telemarketing for my nutritional products business. How do you get the right people to know that you're legitimate and not a scam. I'm afraid that most will fear that I'm a scammer and that they won't apply and i'll be left with a subpar worker or workforce.
  4. pcwork

    pcwork New Member

    Interesting subject. How do you ensure that your email correspondence is secure and not intercepted / modified by anyone?

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