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This is the seventh and final of our series of articles aimed at human resource managers, line managers and others responsible for organising, managing, supporting, recruiting, training and retaining staff and with an interest in introducing more flexible working methods.

Here we examine the management of a remote workforce, recognising that the managers can be working at a distance as well as the staff.




Managing and working ‘remotely’

Management style:

If the management style is not already focused on results rather than processes, then this will need to adapt.  A high degree of trust is also needed between the manager and the employee, and where this is lacking, it is likely that working outside the office is going to be problematic on both sides.

Some aspects of management taken for granted in the conventional office environment need to be treated more explicitly in a remote working situation.  In particular staff need:

  • clear performance targets and short-term goals

  • regular feedback on performance and positive reinforcement

  • regular communication and team meetings

  • phone calls (with supervisors and colleagues) to include personal/social content, and not purely business.

Using technology:

Electronic communication methods should be user friendly and accessible: ranging from adequate remote access to shared folders and the intranet, to the ability to send and retrieve e-mails without undue hassle.

The new multimedia collaboration tools and unmetered Internet access enhance considerably the value of electronic communications, especially for less structured communications.

Building teams:

It is important to note that too much use of technology can isolate people from their colleagues and business partners.  Steps need to be taken to ensure teams meet together face-to-face.

The good news is that, with transactional work carried out electronically, these meetings can be social, enjoyable and highly productive.

This concludes our series of articles on the human resources aspects of flexible working

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