The rise of the virtual workplace is having a profound effect not just on the way employees work, but also on management style. Today’s employers are finding that in a competitive marketplace attracting the best talent means offering more flexible conditions and embracing a new way of thinking about the relationship between the bosses and the staff. Letting go of control is part of the answer, but this doesn’t mean relinquishing contact and conversation.
Staples' Workplace Index report surveyed thousands of workers and found that 37% said that more flexibility would make them more productive. And 63% of the happiest workers interviewed said they have flexible hours or the freedom to telecommute.
Managing a remote workforce means learning new skills as a virtual manager. Here are some tips:
Don't email them all the time
50% of employees feel that they get too many emails, and 68% feel that it makes them less productive. You have to trust your mobile workforce and allow them, to a degree, to get on with their workload. Ask them to email you a daily update or progress report, and only send them emails if it's a client request or a document they urgently need.
Using a managed mobile solution
This can help you keep your employees focused and connected, with you and with each other. Giving people the technological tools for sharing information, communicating and collaborating is key – both in hardware and the apps required.
Conversation is key
Having regular one-to-one or team conference calls with your mobile employees helps you keep track of how they're doing. It also helps them to stay feeling connected and part of a team. Turnover among remote employees can be higher if they feel disengaged.
Put it in writing
Setting out the terms of what's expected from mobile workers is a reasonable step that keeps everyone clear on where they stand. Make up a new contract, stating how many hours your mobile workforce will need to work, how often they need to report into you and what equipment you'll supply them with.
Get to know each other well
Having an in-house, formal induction for new employees who will be working remotely helps them to understand your organisational culture, and gives them bedrock head start on forming relationships with colleagues and managers.
Managing a workforce that isn’t physically present is a very real challenge that successful businesses need to embrace. With a few changes to the way we think and manage, remote working can lead to happier, more creative teams – and higher standards of productivity.
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