Telework is an increasingly popular option, especially for employees seeking a greater work/life balance. Statistics compiled by Global Workplace Analytics show that approximately 20 to 30 million Americans work from home at least one day per week, with the numbers increasing by 73 percent from 2005 to 2011. Companies need to respond to this change by finding effective ways to manage remote workers.
1. Communicate often. Set up a regular time to touch bases (daily, every other day, or weekly) when you can talk via phone, Skype, or instant message. Don’t wait until you have a problem to be in touch.
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2. Be clear and thorough. You may have fewer chances to interact with remote workers than with workers in the office, so put your expectations in writing and make them clear and detailed.
3. Respond to problems right away. When teleworkers run into snags, they may be unable to continue with their work until they find solutions.
4. Measure results. You can’t see what teleworkers are doing throughout the day, but you can — and should — measure the results of their work.
5. Adapt your management style to the needs of individual teleworkers. Teleworkers, like workers in the office, vary in how much supervision and feedback they need. Some can work more independently, while others need more oversight. Be careful, however, not to monitor teleworkers so closely that they may feel you don’t trust them.
Remote workers are usually very motivated to make their telecommuting situations work. Good management will help both the remote workers and the company thrive.
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