Managing remote workers
Working remotely presents some unique management challenges. If you are a project manager for a group of remote workers, you must trust your team members to get their jobs done because you cannot drop by their desks to check their progress. You must set up definitive objectives and deliverables and enforce status reporting on a regular basis.
Managing by walking around is impossible in a telecommuting environment, and you might be uncomfortable not having regular in person contact with your people. Depending on your management style you might not be suited for managing remote teams. In additions you might need to consider as well specific attributes of employees and projects.
Telecommuters must be self directed, focused, and comfortable working independently. Basically, mobile workers function best when they´re given a specific set of objectives that require little direction, especially on a day to day level. An individual who needs constant guidance and recognition should not work remotely.
Make sure status meetings are worthwhile. If remote workers are on a conference call, keep in mind that calls work best when the participants are part of a very targeted group. Calls with 5 or fewer people will likely succeed in its objectives; but a call with 10 or 20 people will have more difficulty to track who is talking, and multiple people will try to advocate their positions.
What can also happen is that people sharing office tend to communicate on an ad hoc basis because they are in the same physical location. Consequently they might discuss, change or agree on things that they then neglect to communicate to the person leading the project. The telecommuter is omitted from the discussions due to his or her lack of presence. But on the other hand remote workers can be very effective team players by performing specific tasks, serving a review function or providing expertise.
What works for you?
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