It’s one thing to hire a few remote workers, it’s something else to manage an entirely decentralized staff. However, this is a new reality of the professional landscape. As mobile and cloud technologies continue to proliferate, the ability to work full-time for a company on the other side of the country is possible.
In this new environment, business owners will bear witness to a new trend: remote management. This refers to the prospect of inspiring and driving employee productivity almost entirely through the cloud. Such a prospect may seem outlandish, but it’s real.
In preparing for this style of business, managers should recognize the role of trust in a remote workforce. Of course, trust is a vital component of any business relationship, but when you can’t even see your employees the idea changes somewhat.
Even simple miscommunication can erode trust in a remote environment. Worse yet, a conflict can be even more challenging to confront – let alone understand – when the arbiters are merely words on a screen.
Accordingly, managers should actively engage team members early on and follow up to ensure appropriate conflict resolution. When this happens, lengthy energy-draining confrontations can be avoided. This is true of any work environment but is an essential component of leadership in a remote workforce.
It’s also incumbent upon employees to take the initiative as to their own position within the company. They need to be organized, efficient and trustworthy. Managers should encourage these traits by sharing calendars, schedules and assignments with them, while also being careful not to give too much.
Force your workers to take the initiative on something – be it communication with a client or simply filling in the blanks. When they’ve accomplished something on their own – something that may not be within the confines of their job description – confidence will build, and so will trust.
It’s true that telecommuting can boost morale and employee satisfaction, but it’s your job as the manager to maintain those sentiments, as any professional can become inured to their environment and end up taking it for granted. Remind workers of their unique circumstances, and keep things interesting.
How do you manage remote employees?