Casual work-at-home day – Photo Courtesy: Quinn Dombrowski
In 2010, a survey from Microsoft found that over 60% of workers believed they could do their jobs from a remote location. Furthermore, the Telework Research Network notes that somewhere between 20 to 30 million Americans work from home at least one day per week.
That might be good news for workers, but it also creates challenges for the people who manage those employees. How can productivity be managed if the workers aren’t in the same room as a superior? Keep reading to learn about frequent struggles, and ways to excel as a remote manager without losing your sanity.
Technical problems can create issues both for people who work in the office, or remotely. Before agreeing to let employees make the leap and start working from home, insist that they have access to a setup thatâ€™s as close as possible to what they’d use at the office. For example, create a portal that allows them quick and secure access to your company’s internal network, and also research ways to let them access company communication systems like voicemail and e-mail systems.
When you work out these details in advance, you’ll reduce the chances that employees will begin working from home only to realize that somehow technology has failed, and is making it difficult for them to do their jobs.
Lack of Face-To-Face Interactions
Although technological problems can hamper your efforts to be a great manager, technological advances like video conferencing tools can make your job much easier. An article from NBC News found that when people relied upon communication methods like voicemail and e-mail, the message only reached the other party 7% of the time.
Whether that’s because the other person didn’t check their voicemail often enough, or let an e-mail get lost in an overflowing inbox, that statistic shows that itâ€™s clearly a good idea to check out a few of the various video conferencing systems that allow you to see employees without having to be in the same room. This not only ensures that the other person hears your message, but that he or she clearly understands it, as well.
Inadequate Levels of Trust
If you’re new to the process of remote management, you might struggle with how to accurately track what employees are doing while they’re on the clock. Many managers fall into a pattern of micromanagement which can cause employees to feel frustrated as their productivity goes down.
Rather than making your workers jump through hoops to prove they’re doing what you expect, set targeted goals and encourage employees to take personal responsibility for meeting them. That way, employees can work with more freedom and as long as they fulfill deadlines, you won’t have to breathe down their neck and ask if things are going according to plan. You may not feel able to trust your employees right away, but as they continually prove an ability to meet expectations, that should allow you to relax a bit more and feel theyâ€™ve mastered the art of being independent while staying productive.
These are just a few obstacles that could come your way when you’re no longer able to manage employees by observing them, and instead switch to a method where you manage by setting objectives and evaluate performance based on an outcome. The transition to this new management style won’t occur overnight, but if you keep the above factors in mind, you’ll be better able to manage challenges when they crop up.
Author Stacy Hilliard is a guest blogger for business blogs. Interested in becoming a stellar manager and business leader? You may be interested in earning an MBA such as the one offered at Northeastern University.